James ewell brown stuart was born at laurel hill farm, a plantation in patrick county, virginia, near the border with north carolina. He was the eighth of eleven children and the oldest of the five sons to survive past early age. His great grandfather, major alexander stuart, commanded a regiment at the battle of guilford court house during the american revolutionary war. His father, archibald stuart, was a war of 1812 veteran, politician, and attorney, who represented patrick county in both houses of the virginia general assembly, and also served one term in the united states house of representatives. Archibald was a cousin of alexander hugh holmes stuart. Elizabeth letcher pannill stuart, jeb’s mother, who was known as a strict religious woman with a good sense for business, ran the family farm.Stuart was educated at home by his mother and tutors until the age of twelve, when he left laurel hill to be educated by various teachers in wytheville, virginia, and at the home of his cousins at danville. He attended emory & henry college when he was fifthteen, from 1848 to 1850. He entered the united states military academy at west point, new york, in 1850. Although not handsome in his teen years, his classmates called him by the nickname “beauty”, which they described as his “personal comeliness in inverse ratio to the term employed.” robert e. Lee was superintendent of the academy beginning in 1852, and stuart became friends with the lee family, seeing them socially on frequent occasions. Lee’s nephew, fitzhugh lee, also arrived at the academy in 1852. In stuart’s final year, in addition to achieving the cadet rank of second captain of the corps, he was one of eight cadets designated as honorary “cavalry officers” for his skills in horsemanship. Stuart graduated thirteenth in his class of forty six in 1854. He ranked tenth in his class in cavalry tactics. Although he enjoyed the civil engineering curriculum at the academy and did well in mathematics, his poor drawing skills hampered his engineering studies, and subsequently finished twenty ninth in his class. Stuart was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant assigned to the u.S. Mounted rifles in texas. He was soon transferred to the newly formed 1st u.S. Cavalry regiment at fort leavenworth, kansas territory, where he became regimental quartermaster and, was promoted to first lieutenant in 1855. Also in 1855, stuart met his wife flora cooke, the daughter of the commander of the 2nd u.S. Dragoon regiment, lt. Col. Philip st. George cooke. Stuart’s ability to lead was soon recognized. He was a veteran of indian conflicts and bleeding kansas. Stuart was wounded in july 1857, while fighting on the frontier against native americans. In 1859, stuart carried the orders for colonel robert e. Lee to proceed to harpers ferry to crush john brown’s raid on the u.S. Arsenal there. During the siege, stuart volunteered to be lee’s aide-de-camp, and read the ultimatum to brown before the final assault. He was promoted to the rank of captain on april 22, 1861, but resigned from the u.S. Army on may 14, 1861, to join the confederate states army, following the secession of virginia. Stuart was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel of virginia infantry in the confederate army on may 10, 1861. He reported to col. Thomas j. Jackson at harper’s ferry. Jackson chose to ignore stuart’s infantry designation and assigned him to command all the cavalry units of the army of the shenandoah he was promoted to colonel on july 16, after early service in the shenandoah valley, he led his regiment in the first battle of bull run, and participated in the pursuit of the federals, and is s credited with tipping the retreat into a rout, with the mere presence of his cavalry. He then directed the army’s outposts along the upper potomac river until given command of the cavalry brigade for the army then known as the army of the potomac, which was renamed the army of northern virginia in march 1862. He was promoted to brigadier general on september 24, 1861. Stuart established a public reputation for conducting daring reconnaissance raids in the enemy’s rear. Twice he slipped around maj. Gen. George b. Mcclellan’s army, once in the peninsula campaign and once after the battle of antietam. While these exploits were not militarily significant, they improved southern morale. Early in the northern virginia campaign, stuart was promoted to major general on july 25, 1862, and his command was upgraded to the cavalry division. He was nearly captured and lost his signature plumed hat and cloak to pursuing federals during a raid in august, but in a retaliatory raid at catlett’s station the following day, managed to overrun union army commander maj. Gen. John pope’s headquarters, and not only captured pope’s full uniform, but also intercepted orders that provided lee with much valuable intelligence. At the end of 1862, stuart led a raid north of the rappahannock river, inflicting some 230 casualties while losing only 27 of his own men.In december 1862, during the battle of fredericksburg, stuart and his cavalry, most notably his horse artillery under major john pelham, protected stonewall jackson’s flank at hamilton’s crossing. Before the battle, stuart gave jackson a fine, new officer’s tunic, trimmed with gold lace, which he thought would give jackson more the aspect of a proper general (as jackson was notoriously indifferent to his appearance).in may 1863, at the battle of chancellorsville, stuart was directed by lee to take command of the second corps for a few days after jackson had been wounded. Stuart did as well commanding infantry as he did cavalry, and was able to successfully push the enemy. When jackson died a few weeks later of pneumonia, a complication of his wounding, he was dressed in a civilian suit and his blue rain coat of military issue for burial, because the one stuart had given him was bloodied and torn.Returning to the cavalry for the gettysburg campaign, stuart endured the two low points in his career. He commanded the southern horsemen at the battle of brandy station, the largest cavalry engagement of the war, on june 9, 1863. The battle is considered a draw, and while the confederates held the field, the fact that southern cavalry had not detected the movement of a large column of union cavalry, and that that column had initiated the attack, was an embarrassment. The fight also revealed the increased competency of the union cavalry, and foreshadowed the decline of the formerly invincible southern mounted arm. As lee and union major general george g. Meade marched toward a confrontation at gettysburg, lee ordered stuart to screen the confederate army as it moved down the shenandoah valley and to maintain contact with the lead element, lieutenant general richard s. Ewell’s second corps, as it advanced in the direction of harrisburg, pennsylvania. Stuart once again attempted to circle the union army and eventually found himself well to the east of ewell, out of contact with the union army, and out of communications with lee. Lee’s orders gave stuart much latitude, and both generals share the blame for the long absence of stuart’s cavalry, as well as for the failure to assign a more active role to the cavalry left with the army. Stuart and his three best brigades were absent from the army during the crucial phase of the approach to gettysburg and the first two days of battle. Lee’s army was left blind in enemy territory, without detailed knowledge of the terrain, roads, or their opponent’s strength and position. This lack of knowledge was a significant reason that the battle of gettysburg started on july 1, 1863, before lee could fully concentrate his army as planned.Stuart arrived at gettysburg late on the second day of the battle bringing with him a caravan of captured union supply wagonsand received a rare rebuke from lee. On the final day of the battle, stuart was ordered to get into the enemy’s rear and disrupt its line of communications at the same time pickett’s charge was sent against the union positions on cemetery ridge, but his attack on east cavalry field was repulsed by union cavalry under brigadier general david gregg and george armstrong custer.During the overland campaign, lt. Gen. Ulysses s. Grant’s offensive against lee in the spring of 1864, stuart intercepted major general philip sheridan’s cavalry at the battle of yellow tavern on the outskirts of richmond on may 11. Stuart’s actions in the battle and the direction of his troopers are credited with saving richmond from the onslaught of sheridan and his cavalry. A dismounted union cavalryman shot stuart from a distance of 30 feet with his pistol. The wound proved mortal. Taken to richmond to await the arrival of his wife at the home of his brother-in-law, dr. Charles brewer, stuart ordered his sword and spurs be given to his son. His last whispered words were: “i am resigned; god’s will be done.” he died on the day following his wounding. He was 31 years old. Stuart was buried in richmond’s hollywood cemetery. He was survived by his wife flora cooke stuart and his children, j.E.B. Stuart ii, and virginia pelham stuart. Upon learning of stuart’s death, general lee is reported to have said that he could hardly keep from weeping at the mere mention of stuart’s name and that stuart had never given him a bad piece of information. Flora wore the black of mourning for the remainder of her life, and never remarried. To support her family, she worked for many years first as a teacher and later as headmistress, at virginia female institute, in staunton, virginia. In 1907, the school was renamed stuart hall in her honor, and remains thriving and well respected to this day. She retired in 1923, and died shortly thereafter, having fallen at the home of her granddaughter. She is buried alongside her husband in hollywood cemetery.