James Ewell Brown Stuart (1833-1864)
was probably the most
famous cavalryman of the Civil War. A Virginia-born West Pointer (1854),
Stuart was already a veteran of Indian fighting on the plains and of
Bleeding Kansas when, as a first lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry, he carried
orders for Robert E. Lee to proceed to Harpers Ferry to crush John Brown's
raid. Stuart, volunteering as aide-de-camp, went along and read the
ultimatum to Brown before the assault in which he distinguished himself.
Promoted to captain on April
22, 1861, Stuart resigned on May 14, 1861, having arrived on the 6th in
Richmond and been made a lieutenant colonel of Virginia infantry.
appointments included: captain of Cavalry, CSA (May 24, 186 1); colonel,
1st Virginia Cavalry (July 16, 1861); brigadier general, CSA (September
24, 1861); and major general, CSA July 25, 1862). His commands in the Army
of Northern Virginia included: Cavalry Brigade (October 22, 1861 - July
28, 1862); Cavalry Division July 28, 1862 - September 9, 1863);
temporarily Jackson's 2nd Corps (May 3-6, 1863); and Cavalry Corps
(September 9, 1863 - May 11, 1864).
early service in the Shenandoah Valley, Stuart led his regiment in the
battle of 1st Bull Run and participated in the pursuit of the routed
Federals. He then directed the army's outposts until given command of the
cavalry brigade. Besides leading the cavalry in the Army of Northern
Virginia's fights at the Seven Days, 2nd Bull Run, Antietam,
Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness, Stuart
was also a raider.
he led his command around McClellan's army, once in the Peninsula Campaign
and once after the battle of Antietam. While these exploits were not that
important militarily, they provided a boost to the Southern morale. During
the 2nd Bull Run Campaign, he lost his famed plumed hat and cloak to
later Confederate raid, Stuart managed to overrun Union army commander
Pope's headquarters and capture his full uniform and orders that provided
Lee with much valuable intelligence. At the end of 1862, Stuart led a raid
north of the Rappahannock River, inflicting some 230 casualties while
losing only 27 of his own men.
Chancellorsville he took over command of his friend Stonewall Jackson's
Corps after that officer had been mortally wounded by his own men.
Returning to the cavalry shortly after, he commanded the Southern horsemen
in the largest cavalry engagement ever fought on the American continent,
Brandy Station, on June 9, 1863.
the battle was a draw, the Confederates did hold the field. However, the
fight represented the rise of the Union cavalry and foreshadowed the
decline of the formerly invincible Southern mounted arm.
the Gettysburg Campaign, Stuart, acting under ambiguous orders, again
circled the Union army, but in the process deprived Lee of his eyes and
ears while in enemy territory. Arriving late on the second day of the
battle, Stuart failed the next day to get into the enemy's rear flank,
being defeated by Generals Gregg and Custer.
Grant's drive on Richmond in the spring of 1864, Stuart halted Sheridan's
cavalry at Yellow Tavern on the outskirts of Richmond on May 11. In the
fight he was mortally wounded and died the next day in the rebel capital.
He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery there.
intimate friend, Stonewall Jackson, General Stuart soon became a legendary
figure, ranking as one of the great cavalry commanders of America. His
death marked the beginning of the decline of the superiority which the
Confederate horse had enjoyed over that of the Union. Stuart was a
son-in-law of Brigadier General Philip St. George Cooke of the Federal
service; his wife's brother was Brigadier General John Rogers Cooke of the
(Davis, Burke, JEB
Stuart: The Last Cavalier)