Lee had a bad week. No question about it.
But he had lots of help. Virtually all of his chief subordinates let him down: Stuart, Hill, Heth, Ewell...and (albeit not to the extent Early argued) Longstreet.
And being on the defensive, Meade had very little to do. It was left to subordinate commanders to simply stand firm at critical moments. Most of the credit, such as it is, goes to Buford, Reynolds, Hancock, Hunt, Custer, and Chamberlain.
Bump to this...I will answer you later this morning. I have some historical writings that you might find interesting.
He did not understand that the aggressiveness that was attributed to Hill and Ewell came from Stonewall Jackson. Without his leadership Hill and Ewell were lost. They were not Corps commanders. They were good at saying "how high" when Jackson told them to jump. After Gettysburg, Lee understood that, and you can see the changes he made in his leadership style.
Furthermore, if Jackson had been present, there was a good chance there would be no Gettysburg. Two reasons - Jackson understood that Hooker lost at Chancellorsville moment the he sent his cavalry away. Second, the objective was Harrisburg... Ewell approached tentatively, slowly allowing the militia time to burn the bridge at York and stopping the forward advance.
Of course the beauty of discussing tactics after a battle is that we can see so clearly what should have happened and what did not. Because we see with such clarity, we sometimes believe that the Lee or Meade should have seen equally clear.
The facts were that on July 2, Lee told Longstreet to attack up the Emmittsburg Road in a flanking movement to conquer the high ground at the Peach Orchard to use artillery to support the flanking move on Cemetery Ridge. Even though the movie Gettysburg shows the brilliance of Chamberlain on Little Round Top, this was not the thrust of the attack. I believe General Evander Law writes after the battle, that when his men began the attack on Round Top, he knew they out of position, and he tried to turn them back up the Emmittsburg Road.
On July 3, Lee attempted the flanking move again starting closer to Cemetery Ridge than he did on the 2nd. He began his attack with a feu d'enfer and then had his men step off.
Two things changed during the course of time. Lee's objective on that day was not a little clump of trees. That little myth would come at the turn of the century after some cosmetic changes had occurred on the battle field. The move Gettysburg shows Pickett walking directly from Seminary Ridge to Cemetery Ridge.
This is not true. Walk Seminary Ridge and you will see the markers for Armistead, Kemper, and Garnett down almost in front of the Round Tops. Look at the magazines that were printed right after the battle, and they reveal a huge sweeping flank movement. Pickett came up the Emmittsburg Road. Furthermore, Hancock wrote that he believed Lee was going to go through his flank.
Now, Hancock also wrote that he believed Lee was flanking him to get to the large wooded area on top of Cemetery Hill and not some tiny clump of trees.
Change these two things - Where the ANV were positioned and where they were going...and the battle change immensely.
Back to JEB Stuart. Stuart has gotten a raw deal throughout history and because of the movie Gettysburg in my opinion.
(I took a course in the Civil War at university and before I realized that the prof's opinion was the only one he wanted to hear because it was the only one ((in his opinion)) that mattered - I opined on Stuart's motives. The Proftold me I was wrong about Stuart and didn't I see the movie Gettysburg. When I said, it was a movie and not history, I actually thought he was going to attack me ((seriously)). So, he spent the next few weeks humiliating me, but I didn't care.)
Any student of the Civil War knows that after Lee's death (and only after Lee's death), Longstreet wrote a series of articles defending his actions at Gettysburg and putting the blame for the defeat on Robert E. Lee. Lee's aides fought back through the papers.
JEB Stuart's name was dragged into the argument. Soon, it became Stuart's absence that caused the loss. Stuart has been blamed for being AWOL or tryng to redeem himself for the draw at Brandy Station, or taking advantage of vague orders to gain more glory. As Harrison the scout/actor says in the Gettysburg that JEB Stuart was only trying to get his name in the paper.
When Stuart's actions as Gettysburg were questioned, John Mosby, Stuart's aides and Jubal Early then entered the fray.
Lee wrote in his official report that the lack of cavalry contributed to the loss. I do not disagree with Lee alot, but I do here.
There are two main issues to take up. What were Stuart's orders? First of all, John Mosby, scouting the Union position came to Stuart and told him that he could inflict damage by riding between Hooker and Washington. Stuart sent an inquiry to Lee asking if this was possible. Lee and Longstreet said yes, with conditions, but it was up to Stuart to use his discretion.
Stuart took three brigades with him...leaving Lee two brigades, plus Jenkin's brigade to go with Early, who was in front of the army. This gave Lee 2500 horsemen. So, Lee had cavalry. Lee chose not to use Jones and Robertson leaving them in the Valley, yet Stuart left them with Lee to be his eyes and ears. If Lee was blind; it was self inflicted. Jones and Robertson would surely have discovered Buford's forward movement if Lee had called for them. He eventually did, but only after the armies had made contact.
Stuart's objective, the army's objective was not Gettysburg. Gettysburg was where Lee turned around because of the ground and the roads. Stuart's orders were to go to York and meet up with Early.
I do not have the source from the quote (I am not at home), but after Mosby made his case, Longstreet wrote Stuart's defenders and told them that he was wrong, and the battle was not lost because of Stuart.
Stuart did know that the Union was on move. He sent word to Lee that Hancock was moving. These couriers were captured and did not reach Lee.
And...Stuart's presence between the army and Washington delayed Sedgwick and the 6th Corp, who was used to keep Stuart from Washington.
The other charge against Stuart is that he had captured 125 wagons and had them with him and with Lee in such need, should have abandoned them and hurried to Lee. Gathering supplies was an important part of his mission. Those wagons and mules and the supplies they carried were needed. So, Stuart comes to York as ordered...no Early and no word left. Stuart had to find the army why? Again Gettysburg not the objective...Harrisburg was. When word reached Stuart that the army was at Gettysburg, he sent Fitzhugh Lee and his brigade to Lee, then followed.