Unknown. "The Death of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart."
Includes reprint from Richmond Examiner. SHSP 7 (1879), pp. 107-110.
Page 107 Death of General J. E. B. Stuart.
The Death of Major-General J. E. B. Stuart.
The circumstances attending the wounding and death of the "Flower of Cavaliers"
(General J. E. B. Stuart) ought to be put in permanent form for the use of the future
historian, for no history of the Army of Northern Virginia would be complete which did not
give large space to the chivalric deeds of this great soldier.
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 - as he appeared at this headquarters on his red blanket on
Munson's hill, with a kindly word and a cordial grasp for even the private soldier - as al
through the campaigns which followed he appeared at the head of his column or in the heat
of battle always gay, quick and daring - and especially do we love to recall him amid the
sweets of social intercourse or sitting a deeply interested listener in the meetings of
our Chaplains' Association at Orange Courthouse. We were present when he took leave of his
devoted wife at the opening of the campaign of 1864, saw him several times amid those
bloody scenes in the Wilderness, and wept with the whole army when the sad news came that
the great cavalryman had fallen - that the "Chevalier Bayard" of the Confederacy
had yielded up his noble life in defending our capital from imminent danger.
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 with his fall.
Meantime we give below the very interesting account of his last moments, which appeared at
the time of his death in the Richmond Examiner:
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.
Page 108 Southern Historical Society Papers.
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 I have fulfilled my destiny and done my duty." As evening
approached the General's delirium increased, and his mind again wandered to the
battlefields over which he had fought, then off to wife and children, and off again to the
front. a telegraphic message had been sent for his wife, who was in the country, with the
injunction to make all haste, as the General was dangerously wounded. Some thoughtless but
unauthorized person, thinking probably to spare his wife pain, altered the dispatch to
"slightly wounded," and it was thus she received it, and did not make that haste
which she otherwise would have done to reach his side.
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,a nd 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
Page 109 Death of General J. E. B. Stuart.
illustrated the ruling passion strong in death. To one of his staff, who was a heavy-built
man, he said, "You had better take the larger horse; he will carry you better."
Other mementoes he disposed of in a similar manner. To his young son he left his glorious
His worldly matters closed, the eternal interest of his soul engaged his mind. Turning to
the Rev. Mr. Peterkin, of the Episcopal Church, and of which he was an exemplary member,
he asked him to sing the hymn commencing-
"Rock of ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee,"
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, General Joseph R. Anderson, Brigadier-General Lawton and Commodore Forrest.
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 by the members of the
deceased General's staff and relatives. From the church the cortege moved to Hollywood
Cemetery, where the remains were deposited in a vault, the concluding portion of the
affecting service ready by Rev. Dr. Minnigerode, of Saint Paul's Church, and all that was
mortal of the dead hero was shut in from the gaze of men.
Page 110 Southern Historical Society Papers.
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 few men, dashed down
the line to form troops to repel the charge. About his time the Yankees came thundering
down upon the General and his small escort. Twelve shots were fired at the General at
short range, the Yankees evidently recognizing his well-known person. The General wheeled
upon them with the natural bravery which had always characterized him, and discharged six
shots from his assailants. The last of the twelve shots fired at him struck the General in
the left side of the stomach. He did not fall, knowing he would be captured if he did, and
nerving himself in his seat, wheeled his horse's head and rode for the protection of his
lines. Before he reached them his wound overcame him, and he fell, or was helped from his
saddle by one of his ever-faithful troopers, and carried to a place of security.
Subsequently, he was brought to Richmond in an ambulance. The immediate cause of death was
mortification of the stomach, induced by the flow of blood from the kidneys and intestines
into the cavity of the stomach.
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.