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Fatal wounding of General J. E. B Stuart.

Account of by ColonelGusW. Dorsey, First Maryland Cavalry.


In the Southern Historical Society Papers it has been the prominent desire and effort of the Editor, to give just and full credit to every soldier and officer of our incomparable Southern Army. The death of General Stuart was a calamity, and all in the South felt it to be such. Had he, ‘the right arm of Stonewall Jackson,’ have been spared—it might well be beyond feeble human ken, to simply apprehend how signally he might have modified what was, is acknowledged as an inevitable result of an overwhelming host with constantly increasing resources. It remains that the death of Stuart was a grave calamity.

It is a remarkable fact that though it is thirty-eight years since the death of the celebrated Confederate cavalry leader, General ‘JebStuart, never but once has an accurate account of his being wounded appeared in print, and then it was in the Staunton Spectator. The Richmond Dispatch, a paper that runs a Confederate column, though evidently it has never heard of McClellan's book, recently stated that ‘General Stuart was wounded at the head of the column leading a desperate charge,’ and in the Baltimore Sun there has appeared at different times numerous accounts of that affair, written by men who were not at nor anywhere near Yellow Tavern on May 11, 1864. This may be the reason why ‘Gus’ [237] Dorsey was never mentioned by any of those would-be historical writers.

Though ‘GusDorsey, like his comrade, the famous ‘Jim’ Breathed, is little known to the Confederate societies of Maryland, both are most favorably known to that ideal soldier and gentleman, without an if or a but—Brigadier-General Thomas T. Munford—as they were to Colonel William A. Morgan and other gallant Virginians, who, like themselves, were at the front to the end. In Mohun, by Lieutenant-Colonel J. Esten Cooke, there is a picture of Captain Dorsey catching General Stuart when wounded, only Captain Dorsey was not mounted; he was fighting Company K dismounted.

In the Campaigns of Stuart's Cavalry, by Major H. B. McClellan, Stuart's chief of staff, there is the account of the wounding of General Stuart that was sent to Mrs. Stuart shortly after the General's death, and which was published by her authority in Volume XVII, Southern Historical Society Papers. In this account there is much mention of Captain Dorsey. McClellan's book—A History of General ‘Jeb’ Stuart from Birth to Death—is one of the most accurate works of the Civil war, and should be in the hands of every cavalryman.

Having stated the above facts for the benefit of historical writers, I will now give an account of that great calamity to the South, the mortal wounding of General Stuart, in the terse, soldier words of Colonel (then Captain of Company K, First Virginia Cavalry) ‘GusW. Dorsey, as taken from a letter written to me on April 21, 1902, and as printed in the Staunton Spectator.

‘I was stationed on the Telegraph road with my company, K, numbering about seventy men, and the first I knew about our troops being whipped and driven back on the left was when General Stuart came down to my position, with a view of ordering me back; and just as he rode up to the company the Yankees charged. He halted a moment and encouraged the men with the words: “Bully for old K! Give it to them, boys!” and just as K had repulsed the Yankees he was shot through the stomach. He reeled on his horse and said: “I am shot,” and then, “Dorsey, save your men.” I caught him and took him from his horse. He insisted I should leave him and save my men. I told him we would take him with us; and, calling Corporal Robert Bruce and Private Charles Wheatley, we sent him to the rear. No other troops were near General Stuart when he was shot that I saw.’ [238]

This is an accurate statement of that affair, without any vivid account of the imaginary captures and recaptures of a mythical battery, as in the Sun's last article.

From the report of Brigadier-General George A. Custer, General ‘JebStuart is supposed to have received his death wound from Private John H. Huff, a sharpshooter, Company E, Fifth Michigan Cavalry, Custer's Brigade, who died from a wound received at Haw's Shop on May 28, 1864.

GusW. Dorsey was Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the First Maryland Cavalry, Munford's Brigade, April 28, 1865.

Frank Dorsey. Baltimore, December 20, 1902.

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