68 Southern Historical Society Papers.
The story of that desperate fight, so tragic in the cruel dis- parity of numbers, has been too often told to need repetition here. As they lifted Stuart, stricken with his mortal hurt, into the ambulance, he saw some disorganized troopers retreating to the rear. Raising himself up, the old light of battle shining in his eyes, his voice rang out in imperious tones: "Go back! go back! Do your duty as I've done mine. I'd rather die than be whipped." And once again the little handful turned and stayed the tide of thundering onset.
Venable tenderly bore his chief from the field to Richmond, and then, like a true soldier, galloped back at once to the front. He had looked his last on the face of the man of whom to his dying day he could never speak save with deep emotion.
But, as the brilliant cavalry leader lay a-dying, he did not for- get this loyal friend and comrade, knit to him by so many ties of joyous camaraderie and common danger.
As was natural, Stuart was passionately fond of horses, was always superbly mounted, and rode like a Centaur. Of all his horses, his "gallant gray" was his favorite, and, just before he breathed out his dauntless soul, after directing that his personal effects shouldd be sent to his wife, turning to his faithful Ad- jutant-General, Henry McClellan, whispered, "Take the bay and let Venable have my gray."
He then added, "I am going fast: God's will be done," and so the bugles sang "Lights Out" to the wearied trooper, and he fell on heroic sleep.
It may not be impertinent to set down here that the writer of these lines was sittting on his horse at Spotsylvania C. H., close to Lee, when the telegram was handed the latter announcing Stuart's fall at "Yellow Tavern." Lee's simple words on read- ing the telegram constitute, to our mind, Stuart's noblest epitaph and should have been graved upon the pedestal of his statue: "Gentlemen," he said (evidently greatly moved), "we have very bad news. General Stuart has been mortally wounded." He paused for a few moments, and then exclaimed impressively : "He never brought me a piece of false information!' Think of it! from the commander of a veteran army, touching his Chief of Cavtlry "the eyes and ears" of that army!