Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lee's Reflections on the Death of Stuart

These reflections come from Rob Lee's book on his father.

Captain W. Gordon McCabe writes me:"I was sitting on my horse very near to General Lee, who was talking to my colonel, William Johnson Pegram, when a courier galloped upwith the despatch announcing that Stuart had been mortally wounded and was dying. General Lee was evidently greatly affected, and saidslowly, as he folded up the despatch, 'General Stuart has been mortallywounded: a most valuable and able officer.' Then, after a moment, he added in a voice of deep feeling 'HE NEVER BROUGHT ME A PIECE OF FALSE INFORMATION'--turned and looked away.

What praise dearer to asoldier's heart could fall from the lips of the commanding generaltouching his Chief of Cavalry! These simple words of Lee constitute,I think, the fittest inscription for the monument that is soon to be erected to the memory of the great cavalry leader of the 'Army of Northern Virginia.'

"In a letter from my father to my mother, dated Spottsylvania CourtHouse, May 16th, he says:"...As I write I am expecting the sound of the guns every moment. I grieve over the loss of our gallant officers and men, and miss their aid and sympathy. A more zealous, ardent, brave, and devoted soldiert han Stuart the Confederacy cannot have. Praise be to God for having sustained us so far. I have thought of you very often in these eventful days. God bless and preserve you.

"General Lee, in his order announcing the death of Stuart, thus speaks of him:"...Among the gallant soldiers who have fallen in this war, General Stuart was second to none in valour, in zeal, and in unflinching devotion to his country. His achievements form a conspicuous part of the history of this army, with which his name and services will beforever associated. To military capacity of a high order and to thenoble virtues of the soldier he added the brighter graces of a purelife, guided and sustained by the Christian's faith and hope. The mysterious hand of an all-wise God has removed him from the scene of his usefulness and fame. His grateful countrymen will mourn his loss and cherish his memory. To his comrades in arms he has left the proud recollections of his deeds and the inspiring influence of his example."