The Donaldsonville artillery at the battle of Fredericksburg.
[The following tribute to General Stuart appeared in the London Index soon after his death.
It is republished now in the County News, by request, from a copy of the original paper.]
Since the death of Stonewall Jackson
, the Confederacy
has sustained no heavier loss than has befallen her in the untimely close of the brilliant career of Major-General James E. B. Stuart
No two men could have been more opposite types of the soldier—Jackson, the earnest, devoted patriot, taking up arms as a last resort, clinging, even on the eve of the most terrible battles, to the hope of peace, struggling between the dictates of duty towards the land of his birth and the impulses of a nature averse to strife, but terrible in the field, and leading on his troops with that fiery zeal which made the soldiers of the Commonwealth
, the gallant cavalier, a warrior by instinct, of that fine metal which made Prince Rupert's horsemen, who in their pride of loyalty made even Cromwell
's Ironsides recoil from their furious onslaught.
Both born leaders of men, and inspiring their followers with the same confidence and devotion, they trod the same path, fought the same fight, and have shared the same fate—struck down in the front of the battle at the moment of victory, with the cheers of triumph ringing in their ears a fitting requiem.
This terrible war demands cruel sacrifices.
The noblest and the best freely offer up their lives to it. Let us hope that as Stonewall Jackson
's memory is illustrated forever by the glorious victory of Chancellorsville
, so the death of this young Virginian hero will hereafter record another, and even a more decisive triumph, and that the final despair of the North
will date from the fierce struggle now disfiguring the valleys and the woodlands of Spotsylvania
We have said that James E. B. Stuart
was a warrior by instinct, and his whole life shows it. He was a born soldier.
From his youth he was noted for a daring enthusiasm which gave promise of what the man would be; and his genius soon showed itself, even in the limited sphere afforded by the wilds of New Mexico
It was in 1854 that young Stuart
received his commission in the United States army as second lieutenant in a mounted rifle corps.
A year later he was transferred to the first regular cavalry, with General Johnston
, now commanding the Confederate army in Georgia
, as his lieutenant-colonel, and Sumner
, who died lately in the Federal
service as colonel.
Under him, now fighting with tribes of hostile Indians
, now beating up groups of marauding banditti, Stuart
laid the foundation of that reputation as a dashing cavalry officer which he has since established on the plains of his native State.
And amongst the officers of that famous regiment there is many a tradition of Stuart
's bold riding and dashing charges.
When the present war broke out he ceased to hold a commission in the United States army, notwithstanding the offer of a captaincy by Mr. Lincoln
's cabinet, and was one of the first officers appointed to the command of a Virginia cavalry regiment.
At the battle of Bull Run
he was placed at the head of the small cavalry force co-operating with Johnston
, and in the desultory fighting which took place in Virginia
after that battle, he at once established that superiority of the Confederate cavalry over their opponents, which, despite heavy odds and many obvious disadvantages, has never been doubtful in Virginia
His first great exploit, however, and the one which brought him at once into note as one of the best cavalry leaders of the day, was his famous ride around McClellan
's army in the Peninsula
in the month of June, 1862.
With a force of about 600 sabres and two pieces of flying artillery, he sallied out from the Confederate
lines at Richmond
, reached the Pamunkey
, destroying supplies, making captures, and creating consternation wherever he went; clearing all obstacles, charging wherever an enemy presented himself, and finally crossing the Chickahominy
at Bottom's Bridge, after having ridden round McClellan
's enormous army, and ascertaining all that was necessary for the execution of that brilliant movement which resulted in the defeat of McClellan
and his ultimate withdrawal from the Peninsula
Once again Stuart
was the herald of disaster to the army of the Potomac, in the month of August, 1862, when General Pope
was in command.
With a comparatively small force he made a dash upon the right flank of the enemy, penetrating to the headquarters of
, capturing all his papers, his dress uniform, several of the officers of his staff, and destroying a vast amount of military stores.
On this occasion, as in the Peninsula
, his bold raid was but the precursor of Stonewall Jackson
In both cases it was Stuart
who led the way and Jackson
who struck the blow, and it may be doubted whether the dashing cavalry raid or the brilliant infantry attack had more to do with the successful result.
Later in the same year Stuart
performed a still greater feat.
was pursuing Lee
southward after the battle of Antietam
, with 2,000 picked troopers and half a dozen light guns, stole round the right wing of the Federals
, crossed the Potomac
a little north of Williamsport
, entered Maryland
, passed rapidly through Mercersburg
, and finally recrossed the Potomac
about fifteen miles from Washington
, far to the left of McClellan
's army, with the loss of one killed and seven wounded. The result of his raid was the capture of a number of prisoners, the destruction of vast stores of supplies and arms, and the transfer to Virginia
of two or three thousand valuable horses.
By this time, however, the Yankees
had taken a lesson from Stuart
's successes, and had raised a considerable cavalry force.
Well mounted and equipped, the Federal
troops made up in numbers what they wanted in the qualities of good cavalry soldiers; and henceforth the work of Stuart
was more confined to the ordinary duties of cavalry in European
wars—to the protection of the flanks of the main army.
In the years 1863 and 1864 he had plenty to do. By degrees the Federals
had got together a considerable force, and Burford
were commanders not to be despised.
Still, on all occasions, Stuart
with inferior forces held his own, and often inflicted considerable damage on the invaders.
During the winter of 1863 and the early months of the present year, he had been engaged in organizing his force for the campaign of 1864, and it is understood that it had attained a remarkable degree of efficiency.
In the few cavalry encounters that have taken place between Lee
's and Grant
's armies, the Confederate cavalry, always inferior in numbers, has invariably come off triumphant, and it is to General Stuart
it owes its superiority.
A skirmish near Richmond
with General Sheridan
's raiding column has unfortunately cost Stuart
his life, and the Confederacy
her best cavalry officer.
But it is satisfactory to know that on this last occasion, as before, Stuart
's horse was victorious, and that though a stray shot struck their young leader to the ground, it was amid the cheers which told of the enemy's repulse and flight.
He is dead at the early age of thirty-three, perhaps the first cavalry officer of his day; but he had lived long enough to have given a marked character to Confederate strategy and to have organized a cavalry service which has over and over again been the bulwark of the Confederacy
, older men, were pupils in his school; and amongst the heroes of the war his name will worthily take its place beside those of Lee
and Stonewall Jackson
Personally, J. E. B. Stuart
will be, perhaps, more widely lamented than any Confederate general who has fallen.
His noble features and manly figure, his easy carriage and fine seat, his never-failing spirits, his personal gallantry, his daring enthusiasm, his unfailing devotion, endeared him to his men and all who knew him. They will hear no more the ringing ‘charge’ that made every man of them grip his saddle more closely and clench his hand more firmly on his sword hilt.
They will never see again the gleaming blade that so often led them safely through the thickest of the fight.
But his memory will be one more prize to the chivalry of the South
, and his loss will be avenged.
But somewhere in Virginia
there is a home that will know this fearless soldier no more, and there will be sorrow that cannot be comforted.
God grant that the days of peace be not far distant and that the blood of this Virginian here, sprung from a race of kings, and in his death worthily redeeming the splendid memories of an ancient dynasty, has not been poured out in vain.
[From the Richmond (Va.) Dispatch
, January 26—February 2, 1896.]