J.E.B. Stuart


J.E.B. Stuart : biography

February 6, 1833 – May 12, 1864

Stuart, along with his warhorse Skylark, is featured prominently in the novel Traveller by Richard Adams.Adams, Richard, Traveller: A Novel, Alfred A. Knopf, 1988, ISBN 0-440-20493-3.

Errol Flynn played Stuart in the movie Santa Fe Trail, depicting his antebellum life, confronting John Brown in Kansas and at Harper’s Ferry. The movie has become infamous for its many historical inaccuracies, one of which was that Stuart, George Armstrong Custer, and Philip Sheridan were firm friends and all attended West Point together in 1854.

In the 1988 alternate history novel Gray Victory, author Robert Skimin depicts Stuart surviving his wound from the battle of Yellow Tavern. After the war, in which the Confederacy emerges victorious, he faces a court of inquiry over his actions at the battle of Gettysburg.Skimin, Robert, Gray Victory, St. Martin’s Press, 1988, ISBN 0-312-01374-4.

In the alternate-history novel How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove, Stuart is the commanding Confederate general in charge of the occupation and defense of the recently purchased Mexican provinces of Sonora and Chihuahua in 1881, before being mortally wounded by an Apache rebel.Turtledove, Harry, How Few Remain, Volume 1, Random House, Inc., 1998, ISBN 0-345-40614-1, p. 45.

Several short stories in Barry Hannah’s collection Airships feature Stuart as a character.

Early life

Stuart was born at Laurel Hill Farm, a plantation in Patrick County, Virginia, near the border with North Carolina. He was of Scottish American/Scots-Irish descent.Life of Jeb Stuart by Mary Williamson. Christian Liberty Press, Jan 1, 1997 page 1 He was the eighth of eleven children and the youngest of the five sons to survive past early age.Wert, pp. 5–6, lists the children as Nancy Anne Dabney, born in 1818, Bethenia Pannill in 1819, Mary Tucker in 1821, David Pannill in 1823, William Alexander in 1826, John Dabney in 1828, Columbia Lafayette in 1830, James in 1833, an unnamed son who died at the age of three months in 1834, Virginia Josephine in 1836, and Victoria Augusta in 1838. Thomas, p. 7, claims that James was the youngest son of ten [unnamed] children. His great grandfather, Major Alexander Stuart, commanded a regiment at the Battle of Guilford Court House during the American Revolutionary War.Thomas, p. 5. His father, Archibald Stuart, was a War of 1812 veteran, slaveholder, attorney, and Democratic politician who represented Patrick County in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly, and also served one term in the United States House of Representatives.Wert, p. 5. Archibald was a cousin of Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart. Elizabeth Letcher Pannill Stuart, Jeb’s mother, who was known as a strict religious woman with a good sense for business, ran the family farm.


Stuart was educated at home by his mother and tutors until the age of twelve, when he left Laurel Hill to be educated by various teachers in Wytheville, Virginia, and at the home of his aunt Anne (Archibald’s sister) and her husband Judge James Ewell Brown (Stuart’s namesake) at Danville.Thomas, pp. 11–12; Wert, p. 8. He entered Emory and Henry College when he was fifteen, and attended from 1848 to 1850.Wert, p. 10.

During the summer of 1848, Stuart attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army, but was rejected as underaged. He obtained an appointment in 1850 to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, from Representative Thomas Hamlet Averett, the man who had defeated his father in the 1848 election.Wert, p. 11; Davis, p. 19. Stuart was a popular student and was happy at the Academy. Although not handsome in his teen years, his classmates called him by the nickname "Beauty", which they described as his "personal comeliness in inverse ratio to the term employed."Thomas, p. 18. He possessed a chin "so short and retiring as positively to disfigure his otherwise fine countenance." He quickly grew a beard after graduation and a fellow officer remarked that he was "the only man he ever saw that [a] beard improved."Davis, p. 33; Wert, p. 15.