U. S. CIVIL WAR
JEB STUART'S RIDE
(PAGE 1 OF 11)
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J.E.B. Stuart - 1863
(1833 - 1864)
HEADQUARTERS, Dabb's Farm, Va., June 11, 1862.
Brig. Gen. J. E. B. STUART,
GENERAL: You are desired to make a secret movement to the rear of the enemy, now posted on Chickahominy, with a view of gaining intelligence of his operations, communications, &c., of driving in his foraging parties, and securing such grain, cattle, &c., for ourselves as you can make arrangements to have driven in. Another object is to destroy his wagon trains, said to be daily passing from the Piping Tree road to his camp on the Chickahominy. The utmost vigilance on your part will be necessary to prevent any surprise to yourself, and the greatest caution must be practiced in keeping well in your front and flanks reliable scouts to give you information.
You will return as soon as the object of your expedition is accomplished, and you must bear constantly in mind, while endeavoring to execute the general purpose of your mission, not to hazard unnecessarily your command or to attempt what your judgment may not approve but be content to accomplish all the good you can without feeling it necessary to obtain all that might be desired. I recommend that you only take such men and horses as can stand the expedition, and that you take every means in your power to save and cherish those you do take. You must leave sufficient cavalry here for the service of this army, and remember that one of the chief objects of your expedition is to gain intelligence for the guidance of future operations.
Information received last evening, the points of which I sent you, lead me to infer that there is a stronger force on the enemy's right than was previously reported. A large body of infantry, as well as cavalry, was reported near the Central Railroad. Should you find upon investigation that the enemy is moving to his right, or is so strongly posted as to render your expedition inopportune--as its success, in my opinion, depends upon its secrecy--you will, after gaining all the information you can, resume your former position.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
On June 12, 1862, C.S.A. Brigadier General J. E. B. Stuart left Richmond at the head of a 1,200 man force apparently going to the assistance of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia.
He did not go there.
Instead, at the request of General Robert E. Lee, recently made commander of the C.S.A. Army of Northern Virginia , Stuart was on a reconnaissance mission.
Robert E. Lee was confronting, just outside of the C.S.A. capital city, Richmond, Virginia, a huge Federal army , the Army of the Potomac , under Union General George B. McClellan. Lee planned to attack the Union army's right flank, isolated on the northern side of the Chickahominy River, but he needed to know its disposition.
Accordingly, per Lee's request, on June 12, 1862, J. E. B. Stuart left Richmond with 1,200 men to survey the Union positions. Three days later, at dawn, June 15, 1862, Stuart returned with everything Lee had wanted and more, having ridden completely around the Union army.
Had he done nothing else for the entire war, this one event would have assured J.E.B. Stuart a place in military history.
Unlike other sections on this site, this section does not describe an individual battle or leader in the Civil War. Instead it follows, over about 104 miles, the author's attempt to trace J.E.B. Stuart's ride around the Union Army of the Potomac, nearly 143 years and 3 months after the fact. The limited amount of available data addressing the ride and the many changes made to the highway system over the years, made it difficult to follow Stuart.
Nevertheless, the August, 1998 issue of Blue & Gray Magazine, containing an auto tour of Stuart's ride, described by Dave Roth and Horace Mewborn, and an article prepared forty-two years earlier, back in 1956, by the Richmond Civil War Round Table, were most useful in preparing this section (even though the author did get lost on several occasions). In addition, other works regarding the ride, and reports in the Official Record (The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies), provided useful information.
Finally, it should be noted that only the author is responsible for any errors, omissions, mistakes, and/or wrong route numbers contained in this section.
LET'S TAKE A TRIP
The colorful and busy map, above, illustrates an estimate of the path that J.E.B. Stuart took during his ride around McClellan. You will note that the path passes near several famous battlefields that would not become famous until later in the war, such as Haw's Shop and Malvern Hill.
The map is a composite of several maps describing the ride, with additional changes reflecting later revelations from books and magazines. Because of the lack of current route numbers (and some routes) the map, alone, is insufficient to use if you want to retrace Stuart's ride. However, it is hoped that the smaller, more detailed maps (seven of them) in this section, can be followed without some of the author's misfortunes. (The smaller maps, which are individually numbered, are repeated, as required, to clarify the text.)
The map below is the identical to the one above except for the liberal use of greyscale. The colorful letters on yellow-background circles on the map mark the location of the current photographs in this section. Throughout the section, each photograph has a letter beside it referring back to this map.
If you click on any of the letters on this map a photograph, taken at the location indicated, will be displayed.
Location of Photographs in this Section.
> Civil War Photos > Stuart's Ride > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6 > 7 > 8 > 9 > 10 > 11
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