The object of this sketch is chiefly to draw the likeness of General Stuart
as he appeared in the familiar scenes of the camp; as this familiar phase of any human being is generally the most characteristic and suggestive; but the subject of his genius as a soldier ought not to be dropped without some reference to the estimate placed upon him by those best able to judge him truly.
unquestionably regarded him as a cavalry commander of the first order of merit, and attached the very highest value to his co-operation in the campaign.
The estimates of General Lee
, either of friend or foe, were calm, impartial, and rarely, if ever, affected in the least degree by private feeling.
Thus, he esteemed the late General Meade
very highly as a soldier, declaring that he was the best officer of the Federal
army, and had “given him more trouble than any of them.”
An estimate which he precisely reversed in the case of General Sheridan
, whose ability as a cavalry officer he considered very small.
His opinion of Stuart
may be seen in his reports, but was plainest to those who observed, at close view, how much he counseled with and trusted to him. The cavalry, under their ardent young leader, were the eyes and ears of his army in every campaign; and although Lee
would not officially censure Stuart
, it seems plain that, right or wrong, he regarded the defeat at Gettysburg
as in some measure due to the absence of Stuart
, to whom he had always looked for prompt and reliable information of the movements of the enemy.
Finally, when Stuart
fell, in May, 1864, and Lee
said that he could scarcely think of him without weeping, the acute grief of the great soldier for a man he had loved so much was certainly mingled with deep regret for the loss of the soldier whose services were so important to him in the critical condition of affairs at the moment.
In camp, in bivouac, on the march, and “off duty” everywhere, Stuart
was a striking personage.
Some human beings are only notable on great occasions, in imposing attitudes gotten up for the emergency, and once back in private, living their every day lives, are commonplace and uninteresting.
This was far from being the case with Stuart
There was about the man a perennial interest as vivid with those who saw him, hour by hour, as with strangers glancing at him in his splendid uniform at the head of his column, or leading a charge.
The ardor, mirth, and romance of the man in his public phase, were all natural, and as characteristic of him in private with friends and staff officers as on the field before the eyes of the world.
He had an immensely strong physique, and unfailing animal spirits --loved song, laughter, jesting, rough practical jokes, and all the