, and came of a family of high social position and some distinction.
Having graduated at West Point
, he served for some years as a lieutenant in the United States army, and when it was obvious that Virginia
would secede, he resigned his commission and came to his native State, where he was put in command of the First Regiment of Cavalry,operating on the Upper Potomac
He had been prominent, at this time, in only one scene attracting public attention.
This was in 1859, at Harper's Ferry
, where he was directed by General, then Colonel
, R. E. Lee
to summon John Brown
He recognized Brown
, then passing as “Captain Smith
,” as soon as the engine-house door was half opened, as an old acquaintance in Kansas
, and advised him to surrender, which Brown
declined doing, adding, “You know, lieutenant, we are not afraid of bullets,” when Stuart
stepped aside, and the attack and capture of the old marauder followed.
In a sketch so limited as the present, it is impossible to more than refer to the main points in Stuart
's career as a soldier.
From the first, his cavalry operations were full of fire and vigor, and General J. E. Johnston
, under whom he served in the Valley
, called him “the indefatigable Stuart
He became famous for his gayety, activity, and romantic exploits, and after fighting all day would dance nearly all night at some hospitable house.
He wore at this time his blue United States army uniform, and a forage cap covered with a white “havelock,” resembling a chain helmet, which made his head resemble that of a knight of the days of chivalry; and at the head of his troopers, as they moved through the spring forests, he was a romantic figure.
crossed the mountains, Stuart
covered the movement with very great skill, charged the Zouaves at Manassas
, held the outposts afterward toward Alexandria
, and brought up the rear when Johnston
fell back to the Rapidan
, subsequently taking a prominent part in the obstinate battles on the Chickahominy
Just preceding these battles he made his remarkable march, with about fifteen hundred cavalry, entirely around General McClellan
's army, originating thus the system of cavalry “raiding,” which afterward proved so fatal to the South
The ability and energy displayed in these movements gained for him the commission of major general, and from that time, to his death, he remained Chief of Cavalry
of General Lee
When the Confederate forces advanced northward in the summer of 1862, Stuart
's cavalry accompanied the column, and took part in all the important operations of that year — on the Rapidan
, the Rappahannock
, the Second Manassas
, and Fredericksburg