Why does General Longstreet doubt his own spy's report of the union army's advance toward Confederate troops in Pennsylvania in The Killer Angels?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Lieutenant General James Longstreet does not think much of spies, and he has apparently only met Harrison once, when the man was paid to bring him information concerning the movements of the Union army.

He thought of the last time he'd seen the spy, back in Virginia, tiny man with a face like a weasel... Him standing there with cold gold clutched in a dirty hand... He had not really expected the spy to come back at all.

Longstreet can scarcely believe the news Harrison has brought: That seven Union corps are nearby, led by the able General John Reynolds. Longstreet assumes that the Confederates would have heard if so many Federal troops were nearby, since the Confederate cavalryman, Jeb Stuart, is known as "the eyes and ears of the army."

He had not known that the Union Army was on the move, was within two hundred miles, was even this side of the Potomac...
     If this was true, there would have been some word.

Harrison reveals that Stuart is "riding in the north somewhere, stirring up headlines and fuss... but [no] real damage." Longstreet soon realizes that what Harrison says must be true: He also has surmised the exact Confederate positions as well, and it suddenly strikes Longstreet that Stuart is "joyriding. God damn him," instead of providing the army with the location of enemy troops. Longstreet has no choice but to accept Harrison's report as fact, and he immediately takes him to tell his story to his commander, General Robert E. Lee.

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