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Year of Glory: The Life and Battles of Jeb Stuart and His Cavalry June 1862-June 1863 by Monte Akers {Excerpt}

Year of Glory: The Life and Battles of Jeb Stuart and His Cavalry June 1862-June 1863 by Monte Akers {Excerpt}

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No commander during the Civil War is more closely identified with the “cavalier mystique” as Major General J. E. B. (Jeb) Stuart. And none played a more prominent role during the brief period when the hopes of the nascent Confederacy were at their apex, when it appeared as though the army of Northern Virginia could not be restrained from establishing Southern nationhood.
Told through the eyes of the men who rode with him, as well as Stuart’s letters, reports, and anecdotes handed down over 150 years.
No commander during the Civil War is more closely identified with the “cavalier mystique” as Major General J. E. B. (Jeb) Stuart. And none played a more prominent role during the brief period when the hopes of the nascent Confederacy were at their apex, when it appeared as though the army of Northern Virginia could not be restrained from establishing Southern nationhood.
Told through the eyes of the men who rode with him, as well as Stuart’s letters, reports, and anecdotes handed down over 150 years.

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Publish date: Apr 2, 2013
Added to Scribd: May 22, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/05/2014

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PART ONE
1.
 
 
PROLOGUE
The Man of the Year There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books,for it is no more than a dream remembered… A Civilization gone with the wind.—Margaret Mitchell 
The opening to Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone with the Wind invokessignificantly different reactions 150 years after the Civil War than it did whenwritten in 1936. Still much admired, much read, and much watched, it is nowconsidered almost a fairy tale. Literary proponents highlight its value as feministliterature rather than American history. Appropriately, critics decry its apologeticattitude toward slavery, and its depiction of the peculiar institution as a sort ofhappy symbiosis. It is generally considered to be a totally inaccurate depiction ofthe Old South as a land of Knights and Ladies Fair. Let it be read or watched forits romance, its spectacle, the celebrity of Clark Gable and vivian Leigh, but donot take it seriously, do not imagine there was really such a place.Yet, in isolated places for limited periods of time, the “land of Cavaliers” did exist,and never more in any one place or for any one period of time than in thepresence of James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart between June 1, 1862, and June24, 1863.John Thomason was a Marine Corps captain who wrote of Stuart without everknowing him, but he captured the magnetism of the man at the beginning of his1930 biography of the cavalry leader:I sat at the feet of our old men who fought in our War of the SouthernConfederacy, and asked them the questions that boys ask.‘What did Stonewall Jackson look like? What sort of man was Longstreet?—.A.P. Hill? …’‘Well son,’ after deep thought—‘Old Stonewall looked—he looked like hispictures. You’ve seen his pictures. Longstreet, he was a thick-set sort of fellow,with a bushy beard. A.P. Hill was redheaded …’But when you ask about JebStuart, their eyes light up and their faces quicken, and they describe details of hisdress, his fighting jacket and his plume—and they hum you songs he loved andtell you how his voice sounded.Jeb Stuart filled the eye ….1He filled more than the eye. Jeb Stuart filled a narrow niche in American legendthat only a select handful of men may occupy—David Crocket, Jesse James,William F. Cody, and George Custer perhaps. Such men have become moreimage than reality, more hype than history, and yet, when the image and hype
 
 
are stripped away, the realities are every bit as tantalizing, every bit asfascinating as the romantic tales that pass as their stories. The facts are differentthan the legends, but the niche they fill is one in which fantasy and fact areinterchangeable.Unlike Crockett, James, Cody and Custer, today Stuart is not a household name.Little boys no longer gallop about on stick horses wearing bath towels for capes,chicken feathers for plumes, brandishing lathes for sabers, imagining themselvesto be the commander of Lee’s Confederate cavalry. Precious few modern boysknow who Stuart was, and just as few of their parents are anxious to describehim—one of the defenders of America’s greatest shame, slavery—as someonetheir progeny should admire. Yet should those same parents describe the type ofperson who should be admired, emulated, and revered, most would describe aJeb Stuart.Imagine a man who proved himself, over and over, to be a winner, whoseintellectual and athletic skill and tactical genius made him paparazzi-popularwhile being simultaneously vital to the future of his nation. Imagine a man ofimmense humor and popularity among his peers, who loved nothing better thanraucous laughter, wrestling on the ground with young men of his staff, singingpopular songs in a deep baritone voice on horseback while accompanied by apersonal banjo player, or attending a joyful ball and stealing kisses from beautifulwomen.Yet imagine that this same man never drank alcohol, nor used profanity, did notsmoke, was never unfaithful to his wife, and was so devoutly religious that hisdying words were “God’s will be done.” His politics were simple and had little todo with slavery. He was a virginian. The Old Dominion was threatened, and hewas willing to die to defend his home.Add to his unlikely mix of personal attributes the ability to ride magnificently, tofight hand-to-hand in mortal combat, to intuit successful battle tactics, as well asa penchant for writing love poems. Round out the image by dressing himoutrageously in black thigh-high boots with spurs of pure gold, dark blue trouserswith a double gold stripe on the legs, a short, double-breasted jacket of greywool, gold buttons, gold collar stars, and qua-trefoils of rich Austrian braid on hissleeves. Place a grey cape lined in crimson on his back, a saber and pistol at hiswaist, and top him off with a hat pinned up on one side and sporting a long blackostrich plume.As if that is not enough, imagine that this striking, eye-filling man, who is nearlysix feet tall, who wears his hair long and who, in keeping with the latest fashion,covers his face with a huge beard, is not accustomed to being consideredhandsome. Imagine that in his youth he was so uncomely that his friendsderisively called him “Beauty,” “in inverse ratio to the compliment implied,” as one

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