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Here you can learn all about the greatest cavalryman during the Civil War on both sides, as well as see J.E.B.'s famous hat!

  James Ewell Brown ('J.E.B.') Stuart

By John T. Marck


The Confederacy's best-known cavalry commander was born at "Laurel Hill" in Patrick County, Virginia in 1833. Originally educated at home and later in Wytheville, Virginia, he attended Emory College and Henry College from 1848 to 1850. He then entered West Point, graduating thirteenth in his class.

After graduation J.E.B. was appointed a 2nd lieutenant in the Mounted Rifles. That same year in October, he was commissioned and sent to Texas. In March 1853, he was assigned to the 1st U.S. cavalry and spent the next six years on the frontier. While there he married Flora Cooke, the daughter of Philip St. George Cooke, the future Union general. Promoted to 1st lieutenant on December 20, he spent some time on developing an invention. During the summer of 1859, he traveled to the War Department to try to sell the army his invention; a device to hold a cavalry sword to the belt. While in the east, Colonel Robert E. Lee, who was Stuart's superintendent at West Point, requested him as his aide upon Lee being ordered to Harpers Ferry to repress and capture John Brown following his raid on the Federal Arsenal there. Stuart accompanied Lee and read the ultimatum to Brown before the assault took place in which Stuart distinguished himself.

After this, Stuart returned to Kansas until April 1861 when his home state of Virginia seceded from the Union. Now a captain in the U.S. Army, he resigned his commission to join the Confederate army, accepting a commission as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia Infantry. Following this, Stuart held many positions in the army that included:

Captain of Cavalry (May 24, 1861)

Colonel, 1st Virginia Cavalry (July 16, 1861)

Brigadier General (September 24, 1861)

Major General (July 25, 1862)

Cavalry Brigade Commander, Army of Northern Virginia (October 22, 1861 - July 28, 1862)

Cavalry Division Commander, Army of Northern Virginia (July 28, 1862 - September 9, 1863)

Temporary Commander of Jackson's 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia (May 3-6, 1863)

Cavalry Corps Commander, Army of Northern Virginia (September 9, 1863 - May 11, 1864)

Easily the best cavalryman during the Civil War on both sides, he fought with distinction leading the Army of Northern Virginia's cavalry at the Seven Days' Battles, and the Battles of Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and the Wilderness. Additionally, he was involved in numerous raiding activities.

J.E.B. Stuart was also famous for his uniform, in that he won a plumed hat and cape. During the Second Bull Run Campaign, Stuart lost his famous hat and cape when he was being pursued by Union troops. In somewhat of a retaliatory move later during one of his raids, he managed to overrun Union General John Pope's headquarters, capturing Pope's full uniform. In this raid he also was able to obtain valuable Union orders which he turned over to General Lee.

Major General Stuart was the commander of the cavalry during the largest cavalry engagement ever fought on American soil on June 9, 1863 at Brandy Station. Although the battle was a draw, Stuart did manage to hold the field. It did however, represent to the South that the Union's cavalry abilities had risen to a level making the Confederacy's once invincible cavalry, not the threat it once was.

On May 9, 1864, Union General Philip Sheridan had amassed a force of cavalrymen totaling about twelve thousand. On their move from Spotsylvania to Richmond, they encountered Stuart and his force of about four thousand five hundred, now tired cavalrymen. As the two forces met at Yellow Tavern on May 11, Stuart was mortally wounded by a dismounted Union soldier. J.E.B. Stuart died on May 12, 1864 in a hospital in Richmond.

Upon learning of Stuart's death, General Lee said that he had lost the "eyes of the army." He further said that "He never brought me a piece of false information."

A trusted friend of Lee, Stuart was missed terribly. James Ewell Brown Stuart was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond , Virginia.

Copyright 1993-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.