"In June 1863, Virginia-born James Ewell Brown Stuart was 30 years old. He was an 1854 graduate of West Point, where the commandant, Col. Robert E. Lee, befriended the young man. Stuart always wanted to be a cavalryman. While a cadet he wrote, 'Had you not rather see your Cousin or even your brother a Bold Dragoon than a petty-fogger lawyer?' He earned the unflattering nickname 'Beauty' during his cadet years, but was popular with his fellow cadets. When he graduated Stuart served with the 1st Cavalry on the Kansas frontier. He married Flora Cooke, the daughter of legendary cavalry commander Col. Philip St. George Cooke. In October 1859, Stuart served as a volunteer aide to Lee in the capture of John Brown at Harpers Ferry. When Virginia seceded in 1861, Stuart resigned his commission and became colonel of the 1st Virginia Cavalry. He became famous almost immediately; the charge of the 1st Virginia helped shatter Union lines at Manassas in July 1861.
Stuart was promoted to brigadier general in September 1861 and gained immortality for his so-called 'Ride Around McClellan' during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. A promotion to major general followed on July 25, 1862, and he assumed command of the cavalry division of the Army of Northern Virginia, a post he held for the rest of his short life (with the exception of his brief stint in command of Jackson's Corps at Chancellorsville). 'He proved himself a premier intelligence officer, combining the highest skill and intrepidity,' noted one biographer. Robert E. Lee often referred to Stuart as 'the eyes and ears of the army,' and he came to depend heavily on Stuart's accurate and timely intelligence reports.
Stuart wanted - but did not receive - permanent command of Jackson's Corps. Instead, Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia from two infantry corps to three and promoted Richard S. Ewell and A.P. Hill to lieutenant general and assigned them to command the Second and Third corps, respectively. Stuart returned to command Lee's cavalry."
- From the Introduction -
©Eric J. Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi
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