Jeb Stuart


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The general loved parties and gloried in being the center of attention. At every opportunity his staff would arrange dances and parties at homes that they decorated with flowers, ribbons, and crossed sabers. His camp attracted many officers who modeled themselves after the dashing Stuart. The general wore a plumed hat and fancy jackets adorned with brass buttons and gold lace trim. Many of his officers dressed in a similar fashion after their commander. Few Union officers were comparable in the use of mounted troopers.

Separated by about 80 miles, Lee had no way of telling where Stuart was. He was stopped and defeated in a pitched battle with Union cavalry three miles east of Gettysburg that afternoon. Taken to a hospital in Richmond, Jeb Stuart died the next day. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience and to understand how you use or website. You can read about how we use cookies and how you can control them by clicking "Privacy Preferences".

If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies. These cookies are used to analyze how visitors use our website. John Pope's headquarters, and not only captured Pope's full uniform, but also intercepted orders that provided Lee with valuable intelligence concerning reinforcements for Pope's army. At the Second Battle of Bull Run Second Manassas , Stuart's cavalry followed the massive assault by Longstreet's infantry against Pope's army, protecting its flank with artillery batteries.

Stuart ordered Brig. Beverly Robertson 's brigade to pursue the Federals and in a sharp fight against Brig. John Buford 's brigade, Col. Thomas T.

Laurel Hill - Birthplace of General J.E.B. Stuart, CSA

Munford 's 2nd Virginia Cavalry was overwhelmed until Stuart sent in two more regiments as reinforcements. Buford's men, many of whom were new to combat, retreated across Lewis's Ford and Stuart's troopers captured over of them. Stuart's men harassed the retreating Union columns until the campaign ended at the Battle of Chantilly.

During the Maryland Campaign of September , Stuart's cavalry screened the army's movement north. He bears some responsibility for Robert E. Lee's lack of knowledge of the position and celerity of the pursuing Army of the Potomac under George B. For a five-day period, Stuart rested his men and entertained local civilians at a gala ball at Urbana, Maryland. His reports make no reference to intelligence gathering by his scouts or patrols. He misjudged the Union routes of advance, ignorant of the Union force threatening Turner's Gap, and required assistance from the infantry of Maj.

By mid-afternoon, Stonewall Jackson ordered Stuart to command a turning movement with his cavalry against the Union right flank and rear, which if successful would be followed up by an infantry attack from the West Woods. Stuart began probing the Union lines with more artillery barrages, which were answered with "murderous" counterbattery fire and the cavalry movement intended by Jackson was never launched. Three weeks after Lee's army had withdrawn back to Virginia, on October 10—12, , Stuart performed another of his audacious circumnavigations of the Army of the Potomac, his Chambersburg Raid — miles in under 60 hours, from Darkesville, West Virginia to as far north as Mercersburg , Pennsylvania and Chambersburg and around to the east through Emmitsburg, Maryland and south through Hyattstown, Maryland and White's Ford to Leesburg, Virginia —once again embarrassing his Union opponents and seizing horses and supplies, but at the expense of exhausted men and animals, without gaining much military advantage.

Jubal Early referred to it as "the greatest horse stealing expedition" that only "annoyed" the enemy. McClellan pushed his army slowly south, urged by President Lincoln to pursue Lee, crossing the Potomac starting on October As Lee began moving to counter this, Stuart screened Longstreet's Corps and skirmished numerous times in early November against Union cavalry and infantry around Mountville , Aldie , and Upperville.

On November 6, Stuart received sad news by telegram that his daughter Flora had died just before her fifth birthday of typhoid fever on November 3. General Lee commended his cavalry, which "effectually guarded our right, annoying the enemy and embarrassing his movements by hanging on his flank, and attacking when the opportunity occurred. Tapping telegraph lines, his signalmen intercepted messages between Union commanders and Stuart sent a personal telegram to Union Quartermaster General Montgomery C.


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Meigs , "General Meigs will in the future please furnish better mules; those you have furnished recently are very inferior. The minor victory was marred by the death of Major Pelham, which caused Stuart profound grief, as he thought of him as close as a younger brother. He wrote to a Confederate Congressman, "The noble, the chivalric, the gallant Pelham is no more.

Let the tears of agony we have shed, and the gloom of mourning throughout my command bear witness. Virginia Pelham Stuart was born October 9. At the Battle of Chancellorsville , Stuart accompanied Stonewall Jackson on his famous flanking march of May 2, , and started to pursue the retreating soldiers of the Union XI Corps when he received word that both Jackson and his senior division commander, Maj.

Hill , had been wounded. Hill, bypassing the next most senior infantry general in the corps, Brig. Rodes , sent a message ordering Stuart to take command of the Second Corps. Although the delays associated with this change of command effectively ended the flanking attack the night of May 2, Stuart performed credibly as an infantry corps commander the following day, launching a strong and well-coordinated attack against the Union right flank at Chancellorsville.

When Union troops abandoned Hazel Grove, Stuart had the presence of mind to quickly occupy it and bombard the Union positions with artillery. Stuart relinquished his infantry command on May 6 when Hill returned to duty. Sears wrote:. It is hard to see how Jeb Stuart, in a new command, a cavalryman commanding infantry and artillery for the first time, could have done a better job.

The astute Porter Alexander believed all credit was due: "Altogether, I do not think there was a more brilliant thing done in the war than Stuart's extricating that command from the extremely critical position in which he found it. Stonewall Jackson died on May 10 and Stuart was once again devastated by the loss of a close friend, telling his staff that the death was a "national calamity. Sears , Gettysburg [46]. Returning to the cavalry for the Gettysburg Campaign , Stuart endured the two low points in his career, starting with the Battle of Brandy Station , the largest predominantly cavalry engagement of the war.

By June 5, two of Lee's infantry corps were camped in and around Culpeper. Six miles northeast, holding the line of the Rappahannock River, Stuart bivouacked his cavalry troopers, mostly near Brandy Station, screening the Confederate Army against surprise by the enemy. Stuart requested a full field review of his troops by Gen. Lee was not able to attend the review, however, so it was repeated in his presence on June 8, although the repeated performance was limited to a simple parade without battle simulations.

Lee ordered Stuart to cross the Rappahannock the next day and raid Union forward positions, screening the Confederate Army from observation or interference as it moved north. Anticipating this imminent offensive action, Stuart ordered his tired troopers back into bivouac around Brandy Station. Army of the Potomac commander Maj. Joseph Hooker interpreted Stuart's presence around Culpeper to be indicative of preparations for a raid on his army's supply lines. In reaction, he ordered his cavalry commander, Maj. Alfred Pleasonton , to take a combined arms force of 8, cavalrymen and 3, infantry on a "spoiling raid" to "disperse and destroy" the 9, Confederates.

John Buford 's division catching Stuart by surprise, waking him and his staff to the sound of gunfire. The second crossing, at Kelly's Ford, surprised Stuart again, and the Confederates found themselves assaulted from front and rear in a spirited melee of mounted combat. A series of confusing charges and countercharges swept back and forth across Fleetwood Hill, which had been Stuart's headquarters the previous night. After ten hours of fighting, Pleasonton ordered his men to withdraw across the Rappahannock. Although Stuart claimed a victory because the Confederates held the field, Brandy Station is considered a tactical draw, and both sides came up short.

Pleasonton was not able to disable Stuart's force at the start of an important campaign and he withdrew before finding the location of Lee's infantry nearby.

J.E.B. Stuart In The Civil War

However, the fact that the Southern cavalry had not detected the movement of two large columns of Union cavalry, and that they fell victim to a surprise attack, was an embarrassment that prompted serious criticism from fellow generals and the Southern press. The fight also revealed the increased competency of the Union cavalry, and foreshadowed the decline of the formerly invincible Southern mounted arm. Following a series of small cavalry battles in June as Lee's army began marching north through the Shenandoah Valley, Stuart may have had in mind the glory of circumnavigating the enemy army once again, desiring to erase the stain on his reputation of the surprise at Brandy Station.

General Lee gave orders to Stuart on June 22 on how he was to participate in the march north. The exact nature of those orders has been argued by the participants and historians ever since, but the essence was that Stuart was instructed to guard the mountain passes with part of his force while the Army of Northern Virginia was still south of the Potomac, and that he was to cross the river with the remainder of the army and screen the right flank of Ewell's Second Corps.

Instead of taking a direct route north near the Blue Ridge Mountains, however, Stuart chose to reach Ewell's flank by taking his three best brigades those of Brig. Wade Hampton , Brig. Fitzhugh Lee , and Col. John R. Chambliss , the latter replacing the wounded Brig. Stuart and his three brigades departed Salem Depot at 1 a.

Unfortunately for Stuart's plan, the Union army's movement was underway and his proposed route was blocked by columns of Federal infantry, forcing him to veer farther to the east than either he or General Lee had anticipated. This prevented Stuart from linking up with Ewell as ordered and deprived Lee of the use of his prime cavalry force, the "eyes and ears" of the army, while advancing into unfamiliar enemy territory.

Stuart's command crossed the Potomac River at 3 a. At Rockville they captured a wagon train of brand-new, fully loaded wagons and mule teams. This wagon train would prove to be a logistical hindrance to Stuart's advance, but he interpreted Lee's orders as placing importance on gathering supplies.

The proximity of the Confederate raiders provoked some consternation in the national capital and two Union cavalry brigades and an artillery battery were sent to pursue the Confederates. In Westminster on June 29, his men clashed briefly with and overwhelmed two companies of Union cavalry, chasing them a long distance on the Baltimore road, which Stuart claimed caused a "great panic" in the city of Baltimore. Judson Kilpatrick 's cavalry as it passed through Hanover and scattered it on June 30; the Battle of Hanover ended after Kilpatrick's men regrouped and drove the Confederates out of town.

Jeb Stuart

Stuart's brigades had been better positioned to guard their captured wagon train than to take advantage of the encounter with Kilpatrick. After a mile trek in the dark, his exhausted men reached Dover on the morning of July 1, as the Battle of Gettysburg was commencing without them. Stuart headed next for Carlisle , hoping to find Ewell. He lobbed a few shells into town during the early evening of July 1 and burned the Carlisle Barracks before withdrawing to the south towards Gettysburg.

He and the bulk of his command reached Lee at Gettysburg the afternoon of July 2. He ordered Wade Hampton to cover the left rear of the Confederate battle lines, and Hampton fought with Brig. When Stuart arrived at Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 2—bringing with him the caravan of captured Union supply wagons—he received a rare rebuke from Lee. No one witnessed the private meeting between Lee and Stuart, but reports circulated at headquarters that Lee's greeting was "abrupt and frosty.

David Gregg and George Custer. During the retreat from Gettysburg , Stuart devoted his full attention to supporting the army's movement, successfully screening against aggressive Union cavalry pursuit and escorting thousands of wagons with wounded men and captured supplies over difficult roads and through inclement weather. Numerous skirmishes and minor battles occurred during the screening and delaying actions of the retreat. Stuart's men were the final units to cross the Potomac River, returning to Virginia in "wretched condition—completely worn out and broken down.

Henry Heth [63]. The Gettysburg Campaign was the most controversial of Stuart's career. He became one of the scapegoats along with James Longstreet blamed for Lee's loss at Gettysburg by proponents of the postbellum Lost Cause movement , such as Jubal Early. Rosser , who stated after the war that Stuart did, "on this campaign, undoubtedly , make the fatal blunder which lost us the battle of Gettysburg. By the route [Stuart] pursued, the Federal Army was interposed between his command and our main body, preventing any communication with him until his arrival at Carlisle.

The march toward Gettysburg was conducted more slowly than it would have been had the movements of the Federal Army been known. One of the most forceful postbellum defenses of Stuart was by Col. John S. Mosby , who had served under him during the campaign and was fiercely loyal to the late general, writing, "He made me all that I was in the war. But for his friendship I would never have been heard of. Edward G. Longacre argues that Lee deliberately gave Stuart wide discretion in his orders.

Edwin B. Coddington refers to the "tragedy" of Stuart in the Gettysburg Campaign and judges that when Fitzhugh Lee raised the question of "whether Stuart exercised the discretion undoubtedly given to him, judiciously ," the answer is no. Agreeing that Stuart's absence permitted Lee to be surprised at Gettysburg, Coddington points out that the Union commander was just as surprised.

Eric J. Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi have concluded that there was "plenty of blame to go around" and the fault should be divided between Stuart, the lack of specificity in Lee's orders, and Richard S. Ewell, who might have tried harder to link up with Stuart northeast of Gettysburg. Jeffry D. Wert acknowledges that Lee, his officers, and fighting by the Army of the Potomac bear the responsibility for the Confederate loss at Gettysburg, but states that "Stuart failed Lee and the army in the reckoning at Gettysburg.

The Happy Warrior JEB Stuart

Lee trusted him and gave him discretion, but Stuart acted injudiciously. Although Stuart was not reprimanded or disciplined in any official way for his role in the Gettysburg campaign, it is noteworthy that his appointment to corps command on September 9, , did not carry with it a promotion to lieutenant general. Edward Bonekemper wrote that since all other corps commanders in the Army of Northern Virginia carried this rank, Lee's decision to keep Stuart at major general rank, while at the same time promoting Stuart's subordinates Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee to major generals, could be considered an implied rebuke.

Wert wrote that there is no evidence Lee considered Stuart's performance during the Gettysburg Campaign and that it is "more likely that Lee thought the responsibilities in command of a cavalry corps did not equal those of an infantry corps. Lee reorganized his cavalry on September 9, creating a Cavalry Corps for Stuart with two divisions of three brigades each.


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In the Bristoe Campaign , Stuart was assigned to lead a broad turning movement in an attempt to get into the enemy's rear, but General Meade skillfully withdrew his army without leaving Stuart any opportunities to take advantage of. Ewell's corps was sent to rescue him, but Stuart hid his troopers in a wooded ravine until the unsuspecting III Corps moved on, and the assistance was not necessary.

Harry Hays 's division near Auburn on October Stuart's cavalry boldly bluffed Warren's infantry and escaped disaster. After the Confederate repulse at Bristoe Station and an aborted advance on Centreville, Stuart's cavalry shielded the withdrawal of Lee's army from the vicinity of Manassas Junction.

Judson Kilpatrick's Union cavalry pursued Stuart's cavalry along the Warrenton Turnpike , but were lured into an ambush near Chestnut Hill and routed. The Southern press began to mute its criticism of Stuart following his successful performance during the fall campaign. The Overland Campaign , Lt. Ulysses S. Grant 's offensive against Lee in the spring of , began at the Battle of the Wilderness , where Stuart aggressively pushed Thomas L. Rosser's Laurel Brigade into a fight against George Custer's better-armed Michigan Brigade, resulting in significant losses.

You must use your good judgment to make any attack which may offer advantages. His defense at Laurel Hill, also directing the infantry of Brig. Joseph B. Kershaw , skillfully delayed the advance of the Federal army for nearly 5 critical hours. The commander of the Army of the Potomac, Maj. George Meade , and his cavalry commander, Maj. Philip Sheridan , quarreled about the Union cavalry's performance in the first two engagements of the Overland Campaign. Sheridan heatedly asserted that he wanted to "concentrate all of cavalry, move out in force against Stuart's command, and whip it. Well, he generally knows what he is talking about.

Let him start right out and do it. Sheridan moved aggressively to the southeast, crossing the North Anna River and seizing Beaver Dam Station on the Virginia Central Railroad , where his men captured a train, liberating 3, Union prisoners and destroying more than one million rations and medical supplies destined for Lee's army.

Stuart dispatched a force of about 3, cavalrymen to intercept Sheridan's cavalry, which was more than three times their numbers. As he rode in pursuit, accompanied by his aide, Maj. Andrew R. Venable, they were able to stop briefly along the way to be greeted by Stuart's wife, Flora, and his children, Jimmie and Virginia. Venable wrote of Stuart, "He told me he never expected to live through the war, and that if we were conquered, that he did not want to live. The Battle of Yellow Tavern occurred May 11, at an abandoned inn located six miles 9.

The Confederate troops resisted from the low ridgeline bordering the road to Richmond, fighting for over three hours. After receiving a scouting report from Texas Jack Omohundro , Stuart led a countercharge and pushed the advancing Union troopers back from the hilltop. Stuart, on horseback, shouted encouragement from in front of Company K of the 1st Virginia Cavalry while firing his revolver at the Union troopers. Huff, turned and shot Stuart with his. It then sliced through his stomach and exited his back, one inch to the right of his spine. Dorsey caught him and took him from his horse. Stuart told him: "Dorsey He suffered great pain as an ambulance took him to Richmond to await his wife's arrival at the home of Dr.

Charles Brewer, his brother-in-law.

As he was being driven from the field in an ambulance wagon, Stuart noticed disorganized ranks of retreating men and called out to them his last words on the battlefield: "Go back, go back, and do your duty, as I have done mine, and our country will be safe. Go back, go back! I had rather die than be whipped. Stuart ordered his sword and spurs be given to his son. He was 31 years old. Stuart was buried in Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery. Upon learning of Stuart's death, General Lee is reported to have said that he could hardly keep from weeping at the mere mention of Stuart's name and that Stuart had never given him a bad piece of information.

Flora wore the black of mourning for the remainder of her life, and never remarried. She lived in Saltville, Virginia , for 15 years after the war, where she opened and taught at a school in a log cabin. Lee had recommended her before his death ten years earlier. Upon the death of her daughter Virginia, from complications in childbirth in , Flora resigned from the Institute and moved to Norfolk, Virginia , where she helped Virginia's widower, Robert Page Waller, in raising her grandchildren.

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She died in Norfolk on May 10, , after striking her head in a fall on a city sidewalk. She is buried alongside her husband and their daughter, Little Flora, in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

Like his intimate friend, Stonewall Jackson , General J. Stuart was a legendary figure and is considered one of the greatest cavalry commanders in American history.

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