His father was a cousin of Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart. Elizabeth Stuart, his mother, was known as a strictly religious woman with a great love of nature. At the age of 14, James was enrolled at school in Wytheville. Robert E.
Lee was Commandant of the Academy at that time. Stuart graduated 13th in his class of 46 in , and attained the rank of cavalry sergeant, the highest rank attainable for cadets.
James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart (U.S. National Park Service)
George Cooke, a native Virginian. In , Stuart was assigned to the U. Mounted Rifles in Texas. He was soon transferred to, and promoted in, the newly formed 1st Regiment, U. Stuart's leadership ability was soon recognized. He was a veteran of Indian conflicts involving tribes such as the Cheyenne and " Bleeding Kansas ," which pitted those favoring slavery against local abolitionists.
Stuart was wounded in July , while fighting on the frontier against Native Americans. In , Stuart carried the orders for Colonel Robert E. Arsenal there. During the siege, Stuart volunteered to be Lee's aide-de-camp, and read the ultimatum to Brown before the final assault against Brown. He was promoted to the rank of captain on April 22, , but resigned from the U.
He was later promoted to:. He then directed the army's outposts until given command of the cavalry brigade. He established a public reputation for conducting daring reconnaissance raids behind Union lines.
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Twice he slipped around Maj. George B. McClellan 's army, once in the Peninsula Campaign when he successfully took 1, men around McClellan's , troops over a distance of miles km and allowed Lee to attack Mechanicsville while keeping the Federals away from Richmond and once after the Battle of Antietam.
While these exploits were not militarily significant, they served to improve Southern morale. During the Northern Virginia Campaign, Stuart lost his signature plumed hat and cloak to pursuing Federals, but in a later raid, managed to overrun Union army commander Maj. John Pope's headquarters and not only re-captured his full uniform, but also intercepted orders that provided Lee with valuable intelligence.
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At the end of , Stuart led a raid north of the Rappahannock River, inflicting casualties while losing only 27 of his own men. Thomas J. Stuart did as well commanding infantry as he did cavalry.
Returning to the cavalry, the Gettysburg Campaign represented two low points in Stuart's career. He commanded the Southern horsemen at the Battle of Brandy Station, the largest predominantly cavalry engagement of the war, on June 9, The battle was a draw and the Confederates held the field. However, falling victim to a surprise attack was an embarrassing blow to a cavalryman and the fight revealed the rising competency of the Union cavalry and foreshadowed the decline of the formerly invincible Southern mounted army as they struggled to hold their ground. Military Academy, West Point, N.
Later in the year he was promoted to brigadier general and placed in command of the cavalry brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee to locate the right flank of the Federal army under General George B. In the next campaign he had the good fortune, in his raid against Federal communications, to bring back a staff document from which Lee was able to discover the strength and position of Federal forces. Stuart, promoted to a major general and commander of the cavalry corps, was present at the Second Battle of Bull Run Second Manassas, August and again circled the Federal army, returning with 1, enemy horses.
The following May at the Battle of Chancellorsville , Stuart was appointed by Lee to take command of the 2nd Army Corps after Jackson had been wounded.
The next campaign at Gettysburg , Pa. July , was preceded by the cavalry Battle of Brandy Station June 9 , at which for the first time Stuart and his men were met by worthy opposition from the Federal cavalry.
Though ordered by Lee to deploy his cavalry as a screen while also gathering intelligence for the advancing Confederate army, Stuart instead struck off on a raid, was delayed, and arrived at Gettysburg too late to provide Lee with vital information on the positions and movements of the Union forces. Throughout the winter of —64 Stuart continued to supply the Confederate command with accurate knowledge of Northern troop movements.
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Facts Matter. Stuart and His Performance in Gettysburg, or Lack of it! Citations Paul D. Robert E. Krick, "J. Stuart," in American National Biography , ed. John A. Garraty, Mark C.