Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 03/April/Field Letters from Stuart's Headquarters

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Southern Historical Society Papers: Volume 3  (1877) 
Field Letters from Stuart's Headquarters
April 1877

Field Letters from Stuart's Headquarters.

[The following autograph letters, for which we are indebted to Major H. B. McClellan, formerly of General J. E. B. Stuart's staff, are worth preserving in our Papers, and will be of interest to others as well as to those who "followed the feather" of the gallant and lamented Chief of Cavalry of Army Northern Virginia.]

Headquarters, Crenshaw's Farm, 19th August, 1862.

General J. E. B. Stuart, Commanding Cavalry:

General—I desire you to rest your men to-day, refresh your horses, prepare rations and everything for the march to-morrow. Get what information you can of fords, roads, and position of enemy, so that your march can be made understandingly and with vigor. I sent to you Captain Mason, an experienced bridge builder, &c., whom I think will be able to aid you in the destruction of the bridges, &c. When that is accomplished, or while in train of execution, as circumstances permit, I wish you to operate back towards Culpeper Courthouse, creating such confusion and consternation as you can, without unnecessarily exposing your men, till you feel Longstreet's right. Take position then on his right, hold yourself in reserve and act as circumstances may require. I wish to know during the day how you proceed in your preparations. They will require the personal attentions of all your officers. The last reports from the signal stations yesterday evening were that the enemy was breaking up his principal encampments, and moving in direction of Culpeper Courthouse.

Very respectfully, &c.,
(Signed)

R. E. Lee, General.

Official:  
R. Channing Price, First Lieutenant and A. D. C.
 

 

Headquarters, 19th August, 1862, 4¾ P. M.

General J. E. B. Stuart, Commanding Cavalry:

General—I have just returned from Clarke's mountain. The enemy as far as I can discover is retreating on the road to Fredericksburg. His route is certainly north of Stevensburg, and is thought to be through Brandy station over the Rappahannock by Kelly's ford. You will therefore have to bear well to your right after crossing the Rapidan, unless you can get other information. I propose to start the troops at the rising of the moon to-morrow morning, which will give the men and horses a little rest, and I believe we shall make more than by starting at night. It is so late now that they could not get off before. The order for to-morrow you will consider modified as above. If you can get information of the route of the enemy, you will endeavor to cut him off; otherwise, make for Kelly's ford over the Rappahannock. Send back all information you can gather. I shall cross at Sommerville ford, and follow in the route of the troops towards Brandy station. If you can get off earlier than the time I have appointed to advantage, do so.

Very respectfully, &c.,
(Signed)

R. E. Lee, General.

Official:  
R. Channing Price, First Lieutenant and A. D. C.
 

 

Respectfully recommended that Colonel Thomas T. Munford be appointed brigadier-general, and assigned to the command of the brigade now commanded by him as colonel. My reasons for this recommendation are that no colonel in the brigade has been as deserving. He is a gallant soldier, a daring and skilful officer, and is throughly identified with the brigade as its leader. As a partizan he has no superior. While others not in the brigade might command a higher tribute for ability and military genius, yet when I consider the claims of the Colonel for this promotion, and the gallant service he has rendered, I am constrained to ask that he receive this merited reward. The assignment of a junior to this position would be prejudicial to the best interests of the service.

Most respectfully, 

J. E. B. Stuart, 
Major-General Commanding Cavalry.

October 24th, 1862.

 

 

Headquarters Cavalry Division,
November 11th, 1862. 

General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General C. S. A.:

General—I have the honor to renew my application for the promotion of Major John Pelham to the rank of lieutenant-colonel of artillery in my division. He will now have five batteries; and always on the battle field, batteries of other divisions and the reserve are thrown under his command, which make the position he holds one of great responsibility, and it should have corresponding rank.

I will add that Pelham's coolness, courage, ability and judgment, evinced on so many battle fields, vindicate his claims to promotion. So far as service goes he has long since won a colonelcy at the hands of his country. He is a native of Alabama, a graduate at West Point.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. B. Stuart, Major-General.

 

 

Headquarters Army Northern Virginia,
January 31st, 1863. 

Major-General J. E. B. Stuart, Commanding Cavalry Division:

General—I have read with great pleasure the report of Colonel Butler, commanding Second South Carolina cavalry, of the gallant conduct of Sergeant Mickler and his party in the skirmish in the streets of Brentsville, on 9th instant. Colonel Butler says well "that they are entitled to the notice and thanks of their officers and the country." I have forwarded the report to the Secretary of War, with the recommendation that these men be promoted for "gallantry and skill" when the opportunity offers. Should such an opportunity occur, it will give me pleasure to present their names to the Secretary.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General.

 

 

Headquarters Cavalry Corps, 
Army of Northern Virginia,
April 4th, 1864.

[Confidential.]

General—I wish you to bear in mind a few considerations for your government as the commander of the outposts on the lower Rappahannock.

Keep out scouts who will be competent and certain of communicating to you any movement of a large body of infantry (which of course will be preceded by a large force of cavalry), down the Rappahannock on the north side, with the view to a change of base or extension of line to the Acquia railroad. Endeavor to secure accurate information and telegraph it clearly, avoiding the possibility of ambiguity for which telegrams are noted. It is very important also to state time and place of enemy's movement. Should the enemy endeavor to cross the river anywhere in your front, it is desirable to prevent it, it is possible to delay it, and to the accomplishment of these alternatives, preferably the former, devote every effort, and if needed send for Hart's battery near Milford. Bear in mind that your telegrams may make the whole army strike tents, and night or day, rain or shine, take up the line of march; endeavor therefore to secure accurate information.

Should the enemy cross at Eley's or Germana, you should move at once to meet him, feel his force, endeavor to penetrate his designs, and report back by telegram giving his progress, and watch his direction of march, in doing which do not let a feigned movement deceive you. It is probably that a corresponding move will be made by a part or all of our main body, to connect your reconnoissance with which will be highly desirable. The enemy's main body will, in the event of such a move, either march directly for Fredericksburg, or move up the turnpike or plank road towards Vidiersville, as before. In the former case, endeavor to impede his march with artillery and dismounted men, so as to give us a chance to strike his flank. In the latter case, close up and harass his rear, as Rosser did so handsomely before. Above all, Vigilance, Vigilance, VIGILANCE!

Very respectfully,

 

J. E. B. Stuart, Major-General.

Brigadier-General. J. R. Chambliss, Commanding, &c.
 

 

Headquarters Army Northern Virginia,
23d April, 1864. 

Major-Ceneral J. E. B. Stuart, Commanding C. C.:

General—The Commanding General directs me to inform you, that in view of the reports of your scouts and those of General Imboden, he is disposed to believe that Averill contemplates making another expedition either to Staunton or the Virginia and Tennessee railroad simultaneously with the general movement of the Federal army. The reduction of the enemy's force on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, in the lower valley, has induced the General to direct General Imboden, if he finds it practicable, to endeavor to anticipate the movement of Averill, and disconcert his plans by a demonstration against the railroad and the force guarding it in Martinsburg and the lower valley. Should General Imboden attempt this, General Lee thinks that his end might be promoted by the co-operation of Colonel Mosby, and he directs that you will notify the latter to communicate with General Imboden, and, if possible, arrange some plan for a combined movement. Great care should be taken to prevent your letter to Mosby from falling into the hands of the enemy.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Charles Marshall, 
Lieutenant-Colonel and A. D. C.