character, it was Stuart
, in his short fighting jacket, heavy with gold braid, his huge gauntlets, and boots reaching to the knees, his hat with its black feather, his sabre and pistol, his rattling spurs, and his gay, alert, off-hand bearing as of one ready to mount in an instant and take part in a “fight or frolic.”
Youth, high health, humor, courage-unthinking resolve, indeed, to “do or die” --were revealed in every trait and every movement of the individual.
Here was plainly a powerful military machine with all the wheels in perfect order, and to be relied upon for any work, however arduous.
One of his letters to me was signed, “Yours to count on
,” and this truthfully expressed the character of the man. General Lee
knew well that Stuart
would never allow indolence or procrastination to stand in the way of obedience to an order — that he was what the Duke
called a “two-o'clock-in-the-morning man,” ready at any instant for any work; and it was this combination of a powerful physique, unfailing promptness, and military genius which made the services of the soldier so invaluable.
In activity, energy, and acumen, Stuart
was, I am convinced, the first cavalry leader of his epoch, and among the most remarkable of any epoch.
When he fell, there were eminent men to take his place-leaders as devoted, hard fighting, and faithful-but no other could precisely fill the vacuum.
With the death of Jackson
, in May, 1863, and May, 1864, something seemed wanting which could not be supplied.
When these two men disappeared, the great conflict appeared gloomy and hopeless.
The familiar sketch here presented of this eminent man, has given the reader, I trust, a tolerably distinct conception of the character and appearance of the individual — the writer's aim having been to leave the record of events in the career of the soldier
to the historian, paying chief attention to the characteristics of the man
. The likeness is at least accurate as far as it goes, and has this merit, that it is based on intimate personal association with the personage whose portrait is traced.
The traits of Stuart
's character were as obvious as those of his personal appearance.
All was on the surface.
Foibles he had — a hasty temper, an imperious will, a thirst for glory, the love of appearance, and a susceptibility to flattery that all observed; but there his faults ended.
To counterbalance these weaknesses, he was honest, true, devoted, generous, as brave as steel, and faithful to his principles and his religious profession.
The controlling instinct, I believe, of his whole nature was to do his duty “up to the hilt” --to use one of his own phrases-and in the performance of this duty he disregarded all personal considerations.
He fell defending the