Page images

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 lieutenantcolonel, 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 Chicka hominy 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

General Pope, 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's attack. 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.

Whilst McClellan was pursuing Lee southward after the battle of Antietam creek, Stuart, 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 Chambersburg, 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, Kilpatrick and Pleasanton 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. Forrest, Morgan, Van Dorn, 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 neverfailing 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.]


Address of Colonel Charles Marshall,

Before the Confederate Veteran Association of Washington, D. C., on its Celebration of the Birth-Day of General R. E. Lee, January, 1896.

The Dispatch has secured for publication the address of Colonel Charles Marshall, delivered before the Confederate Veteran Association of Washington, D. C., on the occastion of the Association's celebration of General Lee's birth-day. Colonel Marshall, as is well known, was a member of General Lee's personal staff.


theme was the events that led up to the battle of Gettysburg, and the facts he gave bear upon the responsibility for the disaster. Below is presented the first instalment of the address, which will be concluded next Sunday. Colonel Marshall said:

In casting about for a subject on which to address you on this occasion, it seemed to me that I could select nothing more interesting than an account of the movements of General Lee's army which resulted in the battle of Gettysburg. I shall not attempt to describe the battle itself, but I think the movements and events which I shall narrate will be found to have had a controlling influence not only in bringing on the engagement, but in determining the result, so far as that result was affected by the circumstances under which the battle was fought. Although it is true that the battle is not always to the strong," it is equally true that no force, however strong, can dispense with the precautions that will enable it to put forth its entire strength, and to avail itself of all the aid it can get from advantages of position and of the mode of attack or defence.

I propose to consider the subject in the light of the knowledge possessed by the actors in the events I shall describe, and not in the light of our present knowledge, and shall endeavor to confine myself to the contemporaneous reports and correspondence of those who took leading parts, in the latter of which especially can be found an authentic and trustworthy record of the reasons and motives that controlled their conduct, and of the knowledge of facts upon which their judgments were formed. In other words, I desire to present to you the facts, not as they actually were, but as they appeared at the time to those who were called upon to direct the affairs of which I shall speak.

All who have read what has been written by some of those who took a prominent part in the events of that time will not fail to observe how much the writers are influenced in their judgment of the conduct of others, not to say in their accounts of what they themselves did or advised, by after-acquired information of the facts. Indeed, some of these writers, especially when they are autobiographers, have developed a degree of military capacity, judgment, and skill, when writing in the light of their present knowledge of facts, which has astounded those who knew them when they were obliged to act upon information derived from the picket-line, from reconnoissances, from scouts, from citizens, from deserters, and other sources of knowledge upon which those in charge of military movements are

often obliged to depend. Those who enjoy the great advantage of a full knowledge of facts in writing of what they advised or did, it will be seen, are usually very positive, and are always right; but so far as what is called the truth of history is concerned, their narratives of what they advised or planned or of what they did, it must be confessed, sometimes do violence to the actual facts.

These writers remind me of something that General Lee once said to me.

While the Confederate army lay on the Rapidan, in the winter. of 1863, a report reached General Lee that a change had been made in the disposition of his troops by the enemy on the other side of the river, opposite the extreme right of our line, which, if true, required a corresponding change on our part. He sent me to General Ewell, who commanded on our right, to inform him of the report, and instruct him to make a change in the disposition of the troops to meet that reported on the part of the enemy.

[ocr errors]

It was a long ride, as General Ewell had heard the same report and had gone to our extreme right, several miles below his headquarters. But when I found him he told me that he had already heard the report, but had discovered that it was incorrect, and that the enemy had made no change. Of course, I did not give him General Lee's order as to changing the location of his troops.


I reached our camp about dark and reported what General Ewell had told me and said that I had withheld General Lee's order about changing the position of the troops. General Lee expressed his satisfaction, and told me to get ready for dinner as there were one or two foreign officers to dine with us. I sat at the lower end of a long table in the mess tent, and after dinner conversation became general, and the subject of the report I have mentioned and of my expedition to General Ewell was referred to.

General Lee, with an amused expression, suddenly called to me from his end of the table:

"Colonel Marshall, did you know General Twiggs?


I replied that I had never met General Twiggs, but that I knew something of him from the history of the Mexican war. General Lee then said: "General Twiggs had a way of instilling instruction that was very effective, and no one ever forgot a lesson taught by him. When he went to Mexico he had a number of young officers

« PreviousContinue »