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I am a lifelong student of military history with particular interest in the Battle of Antietam. I work for the federal government in Washington DC and have two teenagers who I love very much. I currently volunteer at the battlefield and devote much time to the study of this battle and the Maryland Campaign. I enjoy collecting notable contemporary quotations by and about the men of Antietam. These words often add a degree of color and character not found elsewhere in their stories. A feature of this blog is the presentation of some of these quotes. My perspective comes from a 28 year career in the U.S. Army. Travels took me to World War II battlefields in Europe and the Pacific where American valor ended the tyranny of Nazism and Empire. But our country faced its own greatest challenge 80 years earlier during the Civil War. And it was the critical late summer of 1862, when Robert E. Lee launched the Maryland Campaign that fortune could have gone either way. It is an incredible story of drama, carnage, bravery, and missed opportunities that culminated around the fields and woodlots of peaceful Sharpsburg MD. So join me as I make this journey South from the North Woods.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

James Ewell Brown Stuart


This morning, I added to Antietam Voices, 131 quotes that I have collected on Confederate cavalryman James Ewell Brown Stuart. Most are from Jeff Wert's outstanding biography Cavalryman of the Lost Cause (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008). From the collection, you see a very well rounded view of the man. Regarded by many including John Sedgwick as "the greatest cavalryman ever foaled in America", Stuart also acquitted himself well as a commander of infantry. The most well known event was at the Battle of Chancellorsville where he temporarily assumed command of the Second Corps upon the wounding of Jackson and A. P. Hill. Despite his combat command skills, Stuart nevertheless was a man who triggered different reactions from those around him. He was viewed by some as vain and chillingly ambitious, as William (Grumble) Jones, Wade Hampton and others would attest. But Stuart was warm and considerate to the many who he counted as his friends. Among them was Stonewall Jackson, a person who in many ways was a complete opposite of Stuart. Very much a lady's man, he was nonetheless a faithful husband to his wife Flora and father to his two children.

Stuart's rides around the Union Army and his activities during the Gettysburg campaign are well known. However not as much appreciated were his actions in Lee's first incursion into the north during the Maryland Campaign - a field of battle like Gettysburg, where he again did not show himself to the best advantage. Stuart early in the campaign seemed to discount the approaching Union Army of George McClellan as it occupied Frederick and pushed toward South Mountain. Believing the northern gaps were threatened by only two brigades of the Union Army, he pulled his cavalry off Turner's Gap and sent much of it south. Stuart left D.H. Hill's lone infantry division to confront not two brigades of the Union Army as Stuart had supposed, but the seven divisions of Burnside wing, which included Hooker's First, and Reno's Ninth Corps. Similarly, he spent little time at Crampton's Gap leaving William Parham and Thomas Munford's small forces to defend William Franklin's Union Sixth Corps. Stuart sent most of his available cavalry under Wade Hampton to guard the approaches to Harper's Ferry along the Potomac River at Weverton.

Stuart acquitted himself well at Antietam posting his cavalry on both flanks of Lee's Army. He positioned on the Confederate left with Jackson. There, at Nicodemus Heights, John Pelham and Stuart's Horse Artillery with some of Jackson's guns blasted the flank of advancing Union forces emerging from the North and East Woods into the Cornfield and points south for most of the day. Later that afternoon, Stuart was given command of a scratch force of Confederate infantry and artillery charged with trying to get beyond the Union right flank to open a path to the north. If successful, this would give the ever aggressive Lee another opening to resume his northward advance. Stuart's force made no progress in that direction and was blasted back by massed Federal artillery.

Stuart had a premonition that he would not survive the war and he told this to several of his friends. On May 11, 1862, while repelling Philip Sheridan's cavalry raid at Yellow Tavern, Stuart was mortally wounded and died the next day. Shortly after his death, Lee wrote in a letter to his wife that "more zealous, ardent, brave & devoted soldier than Stuart, the Confederacy cannot have."

1 comment:

  1. thank you on this great script i myself needed this for a school project and have never even heard of this mans name but it helps to have someone dedicated in history to know about someone

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