“HIS NAME MUST APPEAR NEAR THE TOP ON ANY LIST OF SIGNIFICANT CIVIL WAR FIGURES”: REPORT HANDWRITTEN BY GENERAL “JEB” STUART, DESCRIBING HIS NARROW ESCAPE FROM VERDIERSVILLE, AND ENDORSEMENT SIGNED BY STUART ONLY WEEKS BEFORE HIS DEATH, HANDSOMELY FRAMED WITH A PORTRAIT OF STUART
STUART, J.E.B. Autograph battle report. WITH: Transfer endorsement signed. No city: circa 1862-64. Battle report, one page, 8 x 11 3/4 inches; endorsement, one page, 9 3/4 x 7 3/4 inches. Color portrait, 4 1/4 x 6 inches. Matted and framed, exterior dimensions measure 30 x 26 1/4 inches.
Autograph report written by Confederate Army Major General J.E.B. Stuart, describing his dawn escape from Union forces at Verdiersville, and an endorsement signed, denying an infantry soldier entry into the Confederate cavalry without his own horse. Stuart autograph materials are quite scarce. Handsomely framed with a color portrait of Stuart in uniform.
Stuart, a graduate of West Point, Major General of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, a veteran of Harper’s Ferry, Manassas, and Antietam, “left a singular reputation. His fondness for display and frivolity is well known. He assiduously cultivated a public image that anticipated by many decades the media-minded generals of later wars. Stuart was ‘as ambitious as Caesar,’ admitted one of his officers… Stuart clearly enjoyed contemporary respect and popularity at all levels, both military and civilian. His chivalric ‘gay cavalier’ reputation concealed and only rarely subdued his many talents as a Civil War cavalryman. He had no peer at gathering intelligence; he discovered and developed such talents as John S. Mosby, John Pelham, and Thomas L. Rosser; and he transferred his personality to the Confederate cavalry in a fashion that improved its morale and military efficiency. His name must appear near the top on any list of significant Civil War figures” (ANB). The autograph battle report, in which Stuart writes of his escape from Union forces the morning of August 18, 1862, at Verdiersville, reads “It was night but as it was highly important to communicate with Lee’s Brigade with a view to crossing the next day, I sent my Adjt Gen’l Major Fitz Hugh on the road on which Gen F. Lee was to have marched – to look for him, remaining myself at Vidiersville. At Early dawn next morning I was aroused from the porch where I lay by the noise of horsemen and wagons and walking out bareheaded to the fence near by found that they were coming from the very direction indicated for Gen F. Lee – I was not left long in this delusion however for two officers Capt Mosby and Lt Gibson whom I sent to ascertain the truth were fired upon and rapidly pursued – I had barely time to leap upon my horse (HighFly), just as I was, and with Major Von Borcke and Lt Dabney of my Staff, escape by leaping a high fence – The Major Who took the road was fired at as long as in sight but none of us were hurt – There was no aid assistance for 10 miles – Having stopped at the nearest woods I observed the party approach and leave in great haste but, not without my hat and cloak, which had formed my bed. – Major Fitz Hugh in his search for Gen Lee was caught by this party and borne off as a prisoner of war – Gen Lee’s Brigade did not arrive till the night of the 18th. a day behind time – Not appreciating the necessity of punctuality in this instance he changed his course after leaving me, and turned back by Louiza CH. following his wagons which I had directed him to send by that point for provisions. By the failure to comply with Instructions not only the movement of the Cavalry across the Rapidan was postponed a day, but a fine opportunity lost to overhaul a body of the enemy’s Cavalry on a predatory excursion far beyond their lines.” Several words have been crossed out and corrected by Stuart.
The endorsement is signed “J.E.B. Stuart,” as Confederate Major General, Headquarters of the Cavalry Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, April 16, 1864. On the same page are endorsements signed by Pierce Manning Butler Young as Brig. Gen. Commanding, Clinton M. Andrews as Col. Commanding, and Walter H. Taylor as Lt. Col. and Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Staff Officer. Stuart gives his response to Private M.N. Brown’s request for a transfer to cavalry: “Respectfully forwarded. Transfer not approved unless it can be arranged without necessitating the detail to procure a horse. I doubt whether this man can better perform service in Calvalry than in Infantry.” The endorsement by Gen. Young approved the transfer; but after Stuart’s response, W.H. Taylor wrote for Lee two days later that the request was “….disapproved. Send the man back to hospital—when he can give assurance of his ability to mount himself at once, without a detail, transfer will be ordered.” Andrews’ endorsement of the 20th sent Brown “with these papers—under guard—to the Hospital at Richmond from which he came when he joined this Regt.” On May 11, less than a month after signing this endorsement, Stuart was mortally wounded at Yellow Tavern; he died the following day.
Light scattered soiling to autograph battle report; endorsement fine. Stuart autograph materials are scarce, particularly of war date.