Stuart, J. E. B.

views updated

Stuart, J. E. B. (1833–1864), Confederate cavalry commander.Virginia‐born James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart graduated from West Point in 1854, served on the Great Plains and in Kansas, and then helped capture John Brown at Harper's Ferry.

In 1861, he resigned from the U.S. Army to become a Confederate colonel of cavalry. Winning early distinction by protecting the Confederate left at the First Battle of Bull Run, he became a brigadier general. In 1862, during Gen. George B. McClellan's Peninsular Campaign, Stuart covered Robert E. Lee's initial withdrawal, then gained enduring fame in a daring reconnaissance raid completely around McClellan's army, burning supplies and capturing documents on the Union forces' strength and employments that enabled Lee to plan his offensive in the Seven Days' Battle.

As a major general in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, Stuart continued to stage morale‐boosting raids and performed well at the Second Battle of Bull Runa and at Fredericksburg. At the Battle of Chancellorsville, he found Gen. Joseph Hooker's flank exposed, and once “Stonewall” Jackson fell, mortally wounded, he swiftly assumed temporary command of Jackson's corps.

In 1863, Stuart suffered a number of setbacks. Union cavalry surprised him in the Battle of Brandy Station, Virginia, in June. Most controversially, in Lee's second invasion of the North, Stuart allowed himself to be diverted from his primary mission of providing intelligence for the army. Riding behind Union lines, he became cut off for three days by the Union army in motion, leaving Lee without information and arriving at the Battle of Gettysburg after it was well underway.

In May 1864, when Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan threatened Richmond, Stuart met him at Yellow Tavern, just north of the capital. During a fierce encounter, Stuart turned back Sheridan, but was mortally wounded. He died the next day, 12 May 1864.

A highly romantic and spectacular figure, Stuart will always be remembered as the dashing cavalier—indeed, one of the finest cavalry commanders.
[See also Civil War: Military and Diplomatic Cours.]


D. S. Freeman , Lee's Lieutenants, 1942–44.
Emory Thomas , Bold Dragon, 1986.

Brian S. Wills

About this article

Stuart, J. E. B.

Updated About content Print Article