General E. P. Alexander (Memoirs, p. 375) says, "in saving a large number of wagons instead of burning them, and delaying twelve hours to parole his prisoners, instead of bringing along the officers and letting the men go, Stuart committed serious blunders."
He further says (p. 375) that had Stuart's column "here followed the direct road via Littlestown to Gettysburg, only about 16 miles away, it could have reached Gettysburg before 11 A. M. on the 30th, where it would have found itself in good position in front of Lee's army then concentrated at Cashtown." And he adds, further, that in that case "Lee's army would have occupied some strong position between Cashtown and Gettysburg, and the onus of attack would have been on the Federals, as had been the plan of the campaign."
Thus but for his unnecessary, fatal delay he would have been at Littlestown before the Federals, and could have reached Gettysburg by the morning of the 30th. We put then the question plainly: Did General Stuart exert himself with whole, hearted energy to carry out the instructions he received, and in the most expeditious manner? In so critical and fateful a movement as the invasion of Pennsylvania, it was supremely important that every officer should carry out the orders of the commander-in-chief with the strictest fidelity and exactness. As a matter of fact Ewell made his march to the Susquehanna, starting on June 23d from Hagerstown, without receiving any aid from General Stuart. That officer was not able to accomplish any of the things he was charged to do in connection with Ewell's advance; and he was not able to do so, first because he crossed east of the Blue Ridge and passed round Hooker's army when the reason for that line of march no longer existed, and when the circumstances under which he had received permission to do so had completely changed; and secondly, because, having crossed the Potomac on the night of the 27th, he did not march as directly and expeditiously as possible to effect a junction with General Ewell. It cannot be supposed that when Lee gave Stuart instructions on the 22d of June, he had any idea that that officer would not report to General Ewell until afternoon of July 2d, the tenth day after.