This morning, I added 131 quotes that I have collected on Confederate cavalryman JEB Stuart. Most are from Jeff Wert’s outstanding biography Cavalryman of the Lost Cause. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008. From the collection, you see a very well rounded view of the man. Regarded by many including John Sedgwick as the “The greatest cavalryman ever foaled in America”, Stuart also acquitted himself quite well as a commander of infantry. The most well known event was at the Battle of Chancellorsville where he temporarily assumed command of the Second Corps upon the wounding of Jackson and A.P. Hill. Despite his combat command skills, Stuart nevertheless was a man who triggered different reactions from those around him. He was viewed by some as vain and chillingly ambitious, as William (Grumble) Jones, Wade Hampton and others would attest. But Stuart was warm and considerate to the many who he counted as his friends. Among them was Stonewall Jackson, a person who in many ways was a complete opposite of Stuart. Very much a lady’s man, he was nonetheless a faithful husband to his wife Flora and father to his two children.
Stuart’s rides around the Union Army and his activities during the Gettysburg campaign are well known. However not as much appreciated were his actions in Lee’s first incursion into the north during the Maryland Campaign – a field of battle where he again did not show himself to the best advantage. Stuart early in the campaign seemed to discount the approaching Union Army of George McClellan as it occupied Frederick and pushed toward South Mountain. Believing the northern gaps were threatened by only two brigades of the Union Army, he pulled his cavalry off Turner’s Gap and sent much of it south. Stuart left it to D.H. Hill’s lone division to confront not brigades of the Union Army, as Stuart believed, but the seven divisions of Burnsides entire wing which included Hooker’s First and Reno’s Ninth Corps. Similarly, he spent little time at Crampton’s Gap leaving William Parham and Thomas Munford’s small force to defend against William Franklin’s Union Sixth Corps. Stuart sent most of his available cavalry under Wade Hampton to guard the approaches to Harper’s Ferry along the Potomac River at Weverton.
Stuart acquitted himself well at Antietam posting his cavalry on both flanks of Lee’s Army. He positioned himself on the Confederate left with Jackson. There, at Nicodemus Heights John Pelham and Stuart’s Horse Artillery blasted the flank of advancing Union forces out of the North and East Woods into the Cornfield and points south for most of the day. Later in the afternoon he was given command of a scratch force of Confederate infantry and artillery charged with trying to get around the Union right flank and open a road to the north. This would give the ever-aggressive Lee another opening to continue his campaign. Stuart’s force made no progress in that direction and was blasted back by massed Federal artillery.
Stuart had a premonition that he would not survive the war and he told this to several of his friends. On May 11, 1862 while repelling Philip Sheridan’s cavalry raid at Yellow Tavern Stuart was mortally wounded and died the next day. Shortly after his death, Lee wrote in a letter to his wife “a more zealous, ardent, brave & devoted soldier, than Stuart, the Confederacy cannot have.”
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