The life and campaigns of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart
of the cavalry Army of Northern Virginia.
By Major H. B. Mcclellan
and New York: Houghton
& Co.; Richmond, Va.
: J. W. Randolph
We said two years ago that we had had the privilege of reading some of Major McClellan
's Mss., and that he would produce a book of rare interest and great historic value.
The book, gotten up in the best style of the bookmaker's
art, is now before us, and we do not hesitate to say that it more than fulfills our prophecy.
had a rare subject for an interesting book, and he has been fully equal to the occasion.
Major-General J. E. B. Stuart
, or ‘Jeb
,’ as he was familiarly called, was unquestionably one of the prominent figures of the war—in our judgment, the ablest cavalry leader which the war produced on either side.
He handled infantry with great skill, was delighted when he could ‘crowd them with artillery,’ and seemed equally at home leading a cavalry charge, or, musket in hand, directing the advance of the infantry skirmish line.
Genial and full of fun, laughing, singing, and playing practical jokes on all comers, he was at the same time stern in his discipline, ceaseless in his vigils, almost incapable of fatigue, and utterly regardless of danger when there was stern work to be done He has been appropriately called ‘a splendid war machine,’ and he was the admiration not only of the cavalry, but of the whole army of which he was so conspicuous a leader, and whose splendid achievements he did so much to produce.
Besides this, the story of Stuart
's life has never before been told, except in the most fragmentary way, and even a fairly well written book about him would possess more than ordinary interest.
But Major McClellan
has peculiar qualifications for his task.
For a large part of the time of Stuart
's brilliant war career he was his chief of staff and confidential friend, and had every opportunity of personal knowledge of most of the events he describes.
Still he has conscientiously and laboriously studied the official reports on both sides—corresponded with officers in position to know particular events—and has also made diligent use of private papers which Mrs. Stuart
placed at his disposal.
In a word he was thoroughly equipped for his task, his literary qualifications were of high order, and he has written a book which is clear, chaste, and every way admirable in its style, and is at the same time a real contribution to the history of the Army of Northern Virginia.
With the loving hand of a devoted friend Major McClellan
from adverse criticism, or describes his able strategy and his brilliant exploits; but he writes in the calm spirit of the historian rather than with the blind zeal of the partisan, and has made one of the fairest
books we have ever seen.
If we were to make an adverse criticism it would be that, in his laudable aim to bring out clearly Stuart
's splendid military career, Major McClellan
has not introduced many anecdotes, reminiscences, and private letters which would add to the interest of the book for the popular reader, and bring out more clearly Stuart
's stainless private character.
And yet, while avoiding meretricious ornaments of style, there are some passages of rare beauty and touching pathos, and the whole book is one which an old Confederate at least cannot but read with sustained interest, and kindling enthusiasm.
We deeply regret that the book comes to us too late for the full review which, under other circumstances, we should have delighted to give it, and that our printers warn us that even this hurried notice must close.
Promising, then, to recur to the subject again, we can now only extend our cordial congratulations to our accomplished and gallant friend, Major McClellan
, on his complete success in making a superb book, and express the earnest hope that his present venture may meet with such success as to encourage him to give us at no distant day a complete History of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia
, of which he was up to the final surrender the able Adjutant-General
We must add that the steel engraving which forms the frontispiece seems to us a well-nigh perfect likeness of Stuart
; that the maps are very valuable, and that the paper, type, binding, and whole get-up
of the book leave nothing to be desired.