U. S. CIVIL WAR
JEB STUART'S RIDE
(PAGE 1 OF 11)
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J.E.B. Stuart - 1863
(1833 - 1864)
(Source: O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 14 [S# 14])
( Not Lee's handwriting --Ed )
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
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
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