J.E.B. Stuart Quotes, Facts & Good to Know Things

James Ewell Brown, aka J.E.B. Stuart, was born February 6, 1833 at Laurel Hill Farm in Patrick County, Virginia, into a distinguished lineage that included the distinguished military service of Major Alexander Stuart; Federal Judge and speaker of the house in Missouri, John Alexander; and lawyer, soldier and state representative of Virginia, Archibald Stuart.

J.E.B. continued the family tradition of attending college, and then received an appointment to West Point Military Academy, graduating in 1854. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant later that same year and assigned to Fort Davis, Texas, but was soon transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  Stuart met and married Flora, daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, who would become his rival during the Civil War.

Stuart’s initiation into active duty began with operations on the frontier against Native American Indians.

In 1859, he invented a new sabre hook which was approved by the United States Army, and, while in Washington to sign a contract with the government, he volunteered as Robert E. Lee’s aide and was instrumental in securing the South’s victory at Harper’s Ferry.

j.e.b. stuart

Courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons

When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, he resigned his commission to join the Confederate Army as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia Infantry. From there, J.E.B. Stuart became well-known for his successful military campaigns, particularly for reconnaissance missions, until towards the end of the war, when several efforts fell short of success.

Stuart was seriously wounded by a bullet to the side during the Battle of Yellow Tavern, just outside of Richmond, on May 11, 1864. He was taken to Richmond for medical help, but died one day later.  He was buried in the Hollywood Cemetery.

In spite of his questionable performance towards the end of the war, J.E.B. Stuart was known particularly by his soldiers as a great leader and a man of good judgment, led by “his confidence in the mercy of heaven unfailing.” A number of memorable J.E.B. Stuart quotes are recorded in historical material, and below are the ones that I consider notable.

Top 23 J.E.B. Stuart Quotes

In the paragraphs below, I will share some of my favorite J.E.B. Stuart quotes.  The common thing you will see in these quotes is his love of the state of Virginia, and the south.  After each quote, I will provide my own two cents.

#23 “Go ahead Fitz, old fellow.  I know you will do what is right.”

This is the words Stuart gave Fitz Lee when he had been wounded at Yellow Tavern. Stuart died shortly after.

#22 “I would like to be with you Dearest this dreary winter’s night, Do you think of your old stove these cold nights.”

Stuart had an immense love for his wife and wrote her the warmest of letters. It is no wonder she wore all black after his death until her death.

#21 “For my part, I have no hesitancy from the first that, right or wrong, alone or otherwise, I go with Virginia.”

Stuart was completely loyal to his heritage… Virginia.

#20 “That if he were to drink any strong liquors at all, he is sure he should be too fond of it, and therefore prefers total abstinence.”

Stuart chose to stay completely alcohol free. There are many who should consider that the love of alcohol inhibits their leadership abilities.

#19 “The evidence of a Savior’s pardoning love…and prayed God to guide me in the right way and teach me to walk as a Christian should.”

Stuart was a wholly devoted Christian. He trusted God’s guidance and no matter what any man could say, I believe Stuart trusted God and followed the path he was given.

#18 “So you think only you… here on Earth… battle against evil forces? The war never ceases… in light… or in darkness! Who can tell what the end of this day will bring? Have I the strength to face the Hun… again? Have I?”

The universe… things seen and unseen are in combat and we all must choose sides at some point. Our inner beings will tell us if we support good or evil.

#17 “Contrary to the expectations of all, I have been so fortunate as not to have a single fight since I have been going to school…Not from cowardice either (for I know you will immediately suspect that as being the reason)”

This quote was discovered in a letter Stuart wrote when he was 13 years old. I suspect that no other boy would dare put his fists up with a boy who carried himself with such confidence.

#16 “While I was fighting in my war, far across the ocean… at pretty nearly the same time… a young French soldier was fighting his war. A wound made the young soldier speechless… He silently rocked away the years until he became an old soldier… sitting before a window… in a town where nothing ever happened… waiting… waiting… for what?”

It seems Stuart had no desire to fade away; was he predicting his own death?

#15 “Well Munford, you have had a rough time.  You can take your choice either remain here & hold the Gap or go with me to Harper’s Ferry as you please.  You or Hampton must go with me.”

This quote showed the amazing leadership abilities of J.E.B. Stuart. He took one of his leaders and gave him a choice as a reward for his excellent service.

#14 “I desire my children to be educated south of the Mason Dixon line and always to retain right of domicile in the Confederate States.”

Stuart completely supported the Confederate battle. So many people have the thought that it was only about slavery. There was so much more. While I don’t agree with slavery, some of the other objectives of the Confederate struggle made good sense. Education was one of the top items and if we would have followed the education standards the South wanted, I believe we would have no need for welfare and food stamps today.

#13 “I am General Jebediah Stuart of the Confederate cavalry! I have nothing to offer you this day but death — in the steel of my sabre and the lead of my pistol! Yield or perish, you worthless yellow rabble!”

I am sure that when Stuart yelled this at Union forces, some immediately felt fear. Not to mention, Stuart’s men felt a deep desire to attack and win.

#12 “Be consoled…by the reflection that your husband & brothers will atone for the father’s conduct”

The war split families in two. This was directed at his wife whose Father decided to fight with the Union while the others fought with the Confederacy.

#11 “We have an army far better adapted to attack than to defend. Let us fight at advantage before we are forced to fight at disadvantage.”

Stuart completely understood his troops and the enemy’s troops. He knew that the way to victory was an offensive one and not defensive.

#10 “The world is filled with winners and losers, but ofttimes even losers win. This day, however, shall losers lose and never be seen again.”

When I see this quote, I wonder if Vince Lombardi, the great football coach, was related to Stuart.

What an inspirational message that would entice you to fight with all your mind, heart and soul!

Other posts you may enjoy:
  1. Top 10 Civil War Confederate Army Generals
  2. Top 20 Famous Civil War Units: The Best of the Best
  3. The Top 15 Army Leadership Failures Of All Time
  4. Top 15 Robert E. Lee Quotes
  5. Top 7 Civil War Movies of All Time

#9 “I realize that if we oppose force to force we cannot win, for their resources are greater than ours.  We must make up in quality what we lack in numbers.  We must substitute esprit for numbers.  Therefore, I strive to inculcate in my men the spirit of the chase.”

J.E.B. Stuart had common sense; he knew that hitting the Union forces head on was a prelude to failure. He was set on teaching his soldiers the primary tactics of guerrilla warfare, as Stuart knew that was the way for the South to win.

#8 “Believe that you can whip the enemy, and you have won half the battle.”

Stuart made it quite clear that beating our fears and having confidence in our abilities is the primary means to overcome any enemy.

#7 “I am going fast now, I am resigned. God’s will is done.”

These are Stuart’s final words on his deathbed.  His reliance on God was evident, and he clearly accepted his death with peace.

#6 “I would rather be a private in Virginia’s army than a general in any army that was going to coerce her.”

Stuart was fiercely loyal to Virginia and her army. Right or wrong, he was solid in his beliefs and stood by them completely.

#5 “I would not have been worthy of the name Stuart had I arrived here safely and without losing or forgetting something.”

Stuart took his heritage seriously. With that heritage came certain responsibilities, and being prepared was one.  This comment also illustrates one way in which Stuart emulated good leadership skills, skills he later carried to the battlefield.

#4 “…it is a great place in every respect—great for the facilities for education—as studying human nature, learning the ways of the world and for straightening the form.”

Stuart was describing West Point here, and he voiced his appreciation not only for the institution itself, but also for education. He absorbed all of it, and viewed his opportunity at West Point as a complete education, academic and otherwise.

#3 “For my part, I have no hesitancy from the first that, right or wrong, alone or otherwise, I go with Virginia.”

Stuart was decisive, and not afraid to go against the popular vote if need be. So committed was he, that he did not hesitate to stand on opposite sides with his father-in-law, a prospect that would have caused some to cower.

#2 “I would like to be with you Dearest this dreary winter’s night. Do think of your old stove these cold nights.”

This could have been a way of wishing his wife well, hoping she stays warm; however, it strikes me more as a gentle reminder of remaining faithful to him.  Separation is always hard on a married couple, and the possibilities were the same back then as they are now. Stuart was a very intelligent man, and recognized possible outcomes to situations, on a professional and a personal level.

#1 “You’ve got it kid! Give it to them!”

Stuart shouted this in enthusiasm to a young artillery officer at the Battle of Chancellorsville. He was determined to prevail, and his shouted words of encouragement to the young officer were simple and, I am sure, effective.

Final Thoughts

J.E.B. Stuart was an interesting character of our nation’s past, and I encourage you to read more about him. If you have other quotes to add to this collection, I would love to hear from you.  Please share them in the comments section below.

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5 thoughts on “J.E.B. Stuart Quotes, Facts & Good to Know Things”

  1. I have to agree with Amy that it looks like this general was shortchanged as far as the history books and classes go. It certainly is worth the effort to read more about the generals you quote and the part they have had in the military history of the United States. I’m sure that we can learn not just from their successes but also from their mistakes as he quoted himself. That’s where some of our important learning takes place and certainly better to learn from their mistakes than to repeat them.

  2. As a member of a cavalry unit–even though I’m an infantryman–I am well acquainted with J. E. B. Stuart. He is one of the great cavalry commanders of U.S. military history and led the Confederate forces at Brandy Station, the largest cavalry engagement ever fought within the continental U.S. He drew criticism for his interpretation of admittedly ambiguous orders at Gettysburg, depriving Lee of the reconnaissance that is the cavalry’s foremost function and being defeated once he finally arrived during the second day of the battle by (of all people) Gen. George Custer, but he is still an admired figure.

    1. Daniel, since this article I’ve done some more reading on J.E.B. Stuart, and I think he gets short-changed in a lot of books and articles. He was very successful during the Civil War, in spite of some errors, which every great commander in history had to contend with. I think his errors got more attention and overshadowed his successes. I did not know that the orders at Gettysburg were admitted to being ambiguous–interesting how history gets slanted depending upon the author. He was an incredible motivator, and believed in his men.

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