Major-General J. E. B. Stuart *
Taken from the Southern Historical Society Papers
|The Death of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart.
The circumstances attending the wounding and death
Among our most precious memories of those stirring
times are those which cluster around the person and character of Stuart.
We remember him as he led an infantry charge on the outpost in the autumn
of 1861 -
We would be glad to have from some competent had a
sketch of that last campaign of Stuart's, and a detailed account of the
circumstances immediately connected
No incident of mortality, since the fall of the great Jackson, has occasioned more painful regret than this. Major-General J. E. B. Stuart, the model of Virginian cavaliers and dashing chieftain, whose name was a terror to the enemy, and familiar as a household word in two continents, is dead - struck down by a bullet from the foe, and the whole Confederacy mourn him. He breathed out his gallant spirit resignedly, and in the full possession of all his remarkable faculties of mind and body, at twenty-two minutes to eight o'clock Thursday night, at the residence of Dr. Brewer, a relative, on Grace street, in the presence of Drs. Brewer, Garnett, Gibson, and Fontaine, of the General's staff, Rev. Messrs. Peterkin and Kepler, and a circle of sorrow-stricken comrades and friends.
We learn from the physicians in attendance upon the General, that his condition during the day was very changeable, with occasional delirium and other unmistakable symptoms of speedy dissolution. In the moments of delirium the General's mind wandered, and, like the immortal Jackson (whose spirit, we trust, his has joined), in the lapse of reason his faculties were busied with the details of his command. He reviewed, in broken sentences, all his glorious campaigns around McClellan's rear on the Peninsula, beyond the Potomac, and upon the Rapidan, quoting from his orders and issuing new ones to his couriers, with a last injunction to "make haste."
About noon, Thursday, President Davis visited his bedside,
and spent some fifteen minutes in the dying chamber of his favorite chieftain.
The President, taking his hand, said, "General, how do you feel?" He replied,
"Easy, but willing do die, if God and my country think
As the evening wore on, the paroxysms of pain increased, and mortification set in rapidly. Though suffering the greatest agony at times, the General was calm,and applied to the wound with his own had the ice intended to relieve the pain. During the evening he asked Dr. Brewer how long he thought he could live, and whether it was possible for him to survive through the night. The Doctor, knowing he did not desire to be buoyed by false hopes, told him frankly that death, that last enemy, was rapidly approaching. The General nodded and said, "I am resigned if it be God's will; but I would like to see my wife. But God's will be done." Several times he roused up and asked if she had come.
To the Doctor, who sat holding his wrist and counting the fleeting, weakening pulse, he remarked, "Doctor, I suppose I am going fast now. It will soon be over. But God's will be done. I hope I have fulfilled my destiny to my country and my duty to God."
At half-past seven o'clock it was evident to the physicians
that death was setting its clammy seal upon the brave, open brown of the
General, and told him so; asked if he had any last messages to give. The
General, with a mind perfectly clear and possessed, then made dispositions
of his staff and personal effects. To Mrs. General R. E. Lee he directed
that his golden spurs be given as a dying memento of his love and esteem
of her husband. To his staff officers he gave his horses. So particular
was he in small things, even in the dying hour, that he emphatically exhibited
and illustrated the ruling passion strong in death. To one of his staff,
who was a heavy-built man,
His worldly matters closed, the eternal interest of
"Rock of ages cleft for me,
he joining in with all the voice his strength would permit. He then joined in prayer with the ministers. To the Doctor he again said, "I am going fast now; I am resigned; God's will done." Thus died General J. E. B. Stuart.
His wife reached the house of death and mourning about ten o'clock on Thursday night, one hour and a half after dissolution, and was of course plunged into the greatest grief by the announcement that death had intervened between the announcement of the wounding of the General and her arrival.
The funeral services, preliminary to the consignment to the grave of the remains of General Stuart, were conducted yesterday afternoon in Saint James' Episcopal Church, corner of Marshall and Fifth streets - Rev. Dr. Peterkin, rector. The cortege reached the church about five o'clock, without music or military escort, the Public Guard being absent on duty. The church was already crowded with citizens. The metallic case containing the corpse was borne into the church and up in the centre aisle to the altar, the organ pealing a solemn funeral dirge and anthem by the choir.
Among the pall-bearers we noticed Brigadier-General
John H. Winder, General George W. Randolph,
Among the congregation appeared President Davis, General Bragg, General Ransom, and other civic and military officials in Richmond. a portion of the funeral services according to the Episcopal church was read by Rev. Dr. Peterkin, assisted by other ministers, concluding with singing and prayer.
The body was then borne forth to the hearse in waiting,
decorated with black plumes and drawn by four white horses. The organ pealed
its slow, solemn music as the body was borne to the entrance, and whilst
the cortege was forming - the congregation standing by with heads uncovered.
Several carriages in the line were occupied
Doctor Brewer, the brother-in-law of General Stuart,
has furnished us with some particulars obtained from the General's own
lips of the manner in which he came by his wound. He had formed a line
of skirmishers near the Yellow Tavern, when, seeing a brigade preparing
to charge on his left, General Stuart, with his staff and a
General Stuart was about thirty-five years of age. He leaves a widow and two children. His oldest offspring, a sprightly boy, died a year ago while he was battling for his country on the Rappahannock. When telegraphed that his child was dying, he sent the reply. "I must leave my child in the hands of God; my country needs me here; I cannot come."
Thus has passed away, amid the exciting scenes of this
revolution, one of the bravest and most dashing cavaliers that the "Old
Dominion" has ever given birth to. Long will her sons recount the story
of his achievements and mourn his untimely departure.