Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause

By Heath Hardage Lee | Go to book overview

Foreword

Poor Jeb Stuart was shot through the kidneys and his
liver grazed also. He lay in the bloom of youth and
apparently in high health strong in voice and patience
and resigned to his fate at eleven o’clock in the morn-
ing, at five that evening was dead without seeing his
wife who was traveling to get to him. Poor young man
the city he did so much to save mourned him sincerely
.

Confederate first lady Varina Howell Davis to her
mother, Margaret Kempe Howell, May 22, 1864

Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, so memorable for his twinkling blue eyes, his roguish sense of humor, his famous plumed hat, and his remarkable leadership skills as the commander of the Cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia, was only thirty-one when he died. Stuart, like so many others who fought in that war, could not escape feeling a sense of mortality. Several lines from a letter dated March 2, 1862, that he wrote to his wife, Flora, speak to his dedication as a soldier and to the uncertainty of the future. “I, for one, though I stood alone in the Confederacy, without countenance or aid, would uphold the banner of Southern Independence as long as I had a hand left to grasp the staff, and then die before submitting … Tell my boy when I am gone how I felt and wrote and tell him … never to forget the principles for which his father struggled.”1

The young general was fatally wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, north of Richmond, in May 1864, joining thousands of others as martyrs of the South. Stuart was thus transformed into a representative of all the proud, resourceful young men of the South who had died in battle. Confederate president Jefferson Davis visited J.E.B. on his deathbed in Richmond on May 12, 1864. Davis realized that he was losing one

-ix-

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