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Reading Book Guide

Plenty of Blame to Go Around: JEB Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg, by Eric J. Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi

In Plenty of Blame to Go Around, Wittenberg and Petruzzi objectively investigate the role Stuart's horsemen played in the disastrous Gettysburg Campaign. It is a comprehensive and thoughtful book written on this important and endlessly fascinating subject. We hope these thought-provoking questions lead to some lively book discussions.

  1. Summarize the different orders that Jeb Stuart received for his advance to Pennsylvania. What were his stated objectives and did they allow any latitude for carrying them out in your opinion?
  2. When Stuart unexpectedly ran into Federal Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's column near Buckland on June 25, should Stuart have called off his ride and reported back to Gen. Lee?
  3. Do you think Stuart's decision to pursue and capture the long Federal wagon train near Rockville on June 28 was a good one?
  4. The longest delays to Stuart's progress, in terms of fighting, were the actions at Westminster MD (June 29) and Hanover PA (June 30). Instead of fighting, should Stuart have tried to disengage early each time and continued his march?
  5. The book reveals, for the first time, that Stuart did send a note to Gen. Lee on June 27 notifying him that the Federal army had moved toward and begun crossing the river north. Do you think that Stuart made enough effort to contact elements of the southern army during his march? If not, what could he have done differently?
  6. What were the effects of the march on Stuart's horses and men?
  7. What were the effects of the march on the local citizens in Maryland and Pennsylvania?
  8. In the months following the Gettysburg battle, what did the southern officers and soldiers say about Stuart's culpability in the Confederate loss of the battle?
  9. In the years following the war, what did soldiers and scholars say about it? Did most blame Stuart?
  10. Does what happened along Stuart's ride, and its effects on the southern army and outcome of the Gettysburg Campaign, have any lessons for today's military and how modern wars are fought? Can modern militaries learn anything from Stuart's ride?