War Years with Jeb Stuart

War Years with Jeb Stuart

War Years with Jeb Stuart

War Years with Jeb Stuart

Excerpt

Every line of this narrative by Lieut. Col. William Willis Blackford has the "feel" of the cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. Authenticity is stamped on each paragraph. The historical evidence is that of an eye-witness. First as Adjutant of "Jeb" Stuart's command and then as chief engineer and a member of the staff at cavalry headquarters, Blackford observed from his commander's side nearly all the operations of the mounted troops from June, 1861, to the end of January, 1864. He had Stuart's full confidence and he probably knew more of what prompted the moves of the "Beau Sabreur" than did any other staff officer who ever wrote of Stuart except H. B. McClellan and John Esten Cooke. In some respects, Blackford was a closer witness than either of these men. McClellan, an invaluable historical authority, did not join the staff until April, 1863. Cooke was a professional writer whose sketches of Stuart in Wearing of the Gray are the accepted, full-length literary portrait, but Cooke's duties as inspector frequently kept him away from headquarters when events of interest were occurring. Besides, Colonel Blackford loved the life of a soldier. Cooke did not, and in his diary said so with complete and characteristic honesty. If, then, a reader wishes a sympathetic and intelligent close-up of Stuart and the interesting young men around him, here it is in Blackford's memoirs.

Regret will be felt, of course, that Blackford was not with Stuart at Yellow Tavern, when Lee's most renowned cavalryman fought his last battle. Compensation for this is offered by the transfer of Blackford to most important service as second in command of the First Virginia Engineer troops. His immediate superior became Col. T. M. R. Talcott, a former member of the personal staff of Gen. R. E. Lee, and a son of Andrew and Harriet Hackley Talcott, the "beautiful Talcott" of Lee's early . . .

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