Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 26.djvu/99

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General J. E. B. Stuart. 89

of secession at Fort Riley, but his leave of absence had not at that time expired. But he at once removed with his family to St. Louis, and started down the river on a steamboat for Memphis. At Cairo he forwarded his resignation to the War Department. Immediately thereafter he was informed that he had been promoted to a captaincy in his regiment. On the yth day of May he reached Wytheville, Va., and on that day his resignation was accepted by the War De- partment.

His first commission in the Lost Cause was that of lieutenant-colo- nel of infantry, dated May the loth, 1861, with orders to report to Colonel Thomas J. Jackson, then at Harper's Ferry. He rose rapidly in his new field of operations, for he possessed all the qualities that usually insure success in life, intelligence, sobriety, in- tegrity, energy, vigilance, firmness, and unerring judgment. Stuart's mental faculties were excellent, even in the very heat of battle, and to this is greatly due his great victories in the field. I have seen him in some hot and perilous places, but I never saw him unduly ex- cited. Always calm in the face of danger with a presence of mind that could not be surpassed, thus verifying the couplet:

" Errors not to be recalled do find .Their best redress from presence of mind."

He received a thorough military education at West Point, gradua- ting thirteen in a class of forty-six members. He hesitated when about to leave his alma mater, whether he would pursue the law or arms as a profession. He finally chose the latter, and received a commission as brevet second-lieutenant in the regiment of mounted riflemen, then serving in Texas, dated July ist, 1854, and he first rendered active service in an expedition against the Apache Indians in a portion of the country that was little known at the time. In this march the Muscalero Apaches were forced to flee across the Rio Grande into Mexico. It would consume too much time for me to give an account of the skirmishes, scouts and hardships of this ex- pedition. That you may know how well this great leader we are honoring to-day acquitted himself, we will mention here what Gen- eral J. S. Simonson, his commanding officer at the time, says about him : ' ' Lieutenant Stuart was brave and gallant, always prompt in the execution of orders, and reckless of danger and exposure. I con- sidered him at that time one of the most promising young officers in the United States Army." This is indeed, a high compliment when taken in connection with the large number of young officers serving