Monday, June 16, 2008

Address Delivered at the Unveiling of the Statue of General J.E.B. Stuart at Richmond, Virginia - Part One

On May 30, 1907, the equestrian statue honoring Jeb Stuart was unveiled in Richmond. The dedication address was given by Theodore Stanford Garnett, who served on Stuart's staff as an aide-de-camp. Fifty thousand people were in attendance.

Comrades of the Veteran Cavalry Association of the Army of Northern Virginia, United Confederate Veterans, Fellow citizens of Richmond, Ladies and Gentlemen:

In response to a call as inspiring as the bugles of Stuart on the field of battle, I am here to attempt the impossible task which has been assigned to me by my old comrades.

Forty-three years, to this same flowery month of May, have passed away since the cannon of his country pealed Stuart's funeral knell, and that same period has elapsed since the city of Richmond registered its high resolve to place a monument here to his undying name.

To the honor of this city, and in proof of her gratitude for his sacrifice of live in her behalf, the city of Richmond, General Randolph, after announcing to the Council the death of General Stuart, submitted the following resolution:

Whereas, the people of Richmond, in common with their fellow-citizens of the Confederate States, have to deplore in the death of Major General J.E.B. Stuart, not only the loss of one of the first military characters of the age, but also of a citizen whose eminent patriotism and pure life gave the best guarantee that his military capacity would never be otherwise employed than in the cause of freedom and for the welfare of his country; and

Whereas, they not only recognize their great misfortune , in common with the rest of their countryman, but bearing in mind that he yielded up his heroic spirit in the immediate defense of their city, and the successful effort to purchase their safety by the sacrifice of his own life, they are profoundly moved with sentiments of gratitude for his great services and of benevolent feeling for his glorious memory, and are desirous to express and to record their sense of peculiar obligation in a permanent and emphatic manner; therefore be it

Resolved, that the Council of the city of Richmond, in behalf of the citizens therefore, tender to the family of General Stuart the deepest and most heartfelt condolence, and earnestly request that remains of their great benefactor may be permitted to rest under the eye and guardianship of the people of Richmond, and they may be allowed to commemorate by a suitable monument their gratitude and his services.

A further resolution was adopted appointing a committee of three, Messrs. Randolph, Denton, and Hill, to report a design for a suitable monument and inscription at some future meeting of the body.

War. with its relentless fury, swept onward over every foot of Virginia soil. The enemy, in ever-increasing hosts, encompassed you about and sat down over against this devoted city -- the Capital of the Confederacy -- and within a twelve-month the bitter fate that had been averted from you by Stuart and his troopers, swiftly and suddenly descended upon you.

The days of our years of destruction and reconstruction have been many and full of sorrow, but today we behold a resurrection and ascension as marvelous as it is glorious. Your city is not only rebuilt, but it has expanded beyond imagination. Where we now stand was then open country. The triumphant march of progress has opened up this magnificent Monument Avenue, crowned as it is by the imposing statute of General Lee and the memorial to Jefferson Davis. Into this goodly company we come now to place the heroic statute of a man who, take him for all in all. We ne'er shall look upon his like again.

JAMES EWELL BROWN STUART was born in Patrick Country, Virginia, on the 6th day of February, 1833.

He was the youngest son of Archibald Stuart and Elizabeth, his wife; and whether or not our democratic simplicity attaches any significance to his alleged descent from the royal line of Scotland's kings, we who knew this true son of Virginia make bold to declare that no prince of the blood ever did more honor to an illustrious ancestry. Strong in mind and body, educated in the three cardinal virtues of Virginia youth, he grew up to manhood a splendid specimen of the hardy young mountaineer, and fresh from the meadows and pinnacles of the Dan, he took his place among the boys at West Point; and there learned the science that teacheth the hands to war and the fingers to fight. Noted in this famous school as the most daring and skillful horseman among his fellows, he sought and obtained active duty as a lieutenant in the Second U.S. Cavalry, then engaged in an arduous expedition against the Indians of the Southwest.

In close encounter with this suitable enemy he received a severe wound -- the only injury he ever suffered until his fatal wounding in the last battle. Soon recovering, he was sent to the plains of Kansas, where his command vainly strove to keep the peace between the warring factions of Northern and Southern settlers -- the first mutterings of the storm which soon broke upon our country in the whirlwind of civil war.

In October, 1859, as aide-de-camp to Colonel Robert E. Lee at Harper's Ferry, he bore the summons to John Brown to surrender himself and his fanatic followers to the authority of the United States and to Virginia, whose peace and dignity they had criminally violated. With grim humor old Ossawattomie Brown told the young man how easily he could have taken his life, as he felt tempted to do, when Lieutenant Stuart approached the engine-house door and demanded his surrender.

Such, in brief, was his preparation for the great career on which he entered in 1861.