Wednesday, February 6, 2013

General J.E.B. Stuart's Birthday

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of one of my favorite Confederate Generals, my namesake, James Ewell Brown Stuart who was born on March 6, 1833.  Stuart attended West Point and rose to the rank of Captain in the United States Army in April of 1861 before resigning his commission to follow his homeland of Virginia in secession in May of that year. He was one of Robert E. Lee's most capable and daring cavalry officers and rose to the rank of Major General by the time he was killed at the age of 31 years at the Battle of Yellow Tavern.  Stuart was a dashing figure with a full auburn beard, a red lined cape and yellow sash and his hat adorned with ostrich plume.  Stuart did much to advance the reputation of the Confederate cavalry as the superior force in the early years of the War for Southern Independence, twice circumnavigating the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula and Maryland campaigns bringing embarrassment to the Union army.  Stuart's cavalry fought in the Battles of First and Second Manassas, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville as well as the previously referenced campaigns and the Bristoe and Overland Campaigns including the Battle of the Wilderness. With the Army of Northern Virginia Stuart also fought in the Gettysburg Campaign including Brandy Station and Gettysburg where he suffered low points in his career absorbing criticism for tiring his troops although retaining ground in the former and for suffering delays which prevented his providing reconnaissance to his commander, Lee during the latter pivotal battle.  Gen. J.E.B Stuart dies on May 12, 1864 from mortal wounds suffered when he was shot by retreating Union troops as he shouted encouragement to his men from atop his warhorse Skylark.  Stuart was the trusted eyes and ears of Lee's Army and following his death, Lee was reported to have weeped at the mention of Stuart's name and recounted that he never received a bit of bad information from him.  He crafted his image of the audacious cavalry commander and embodied the chivalrous knight of bygone eras with boldness and tirelessness, yet calm and enterprising.

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