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The Estrangement of Jeb Stuart’s Father-in-Law

Brigadier General Philip St. George Cooke, US Army, MOLLUS, U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center [USAHEC]

By the fall 1861, Jeb Stuart was frustrated that his father-in-law, Philip St. George Cooke, had remained in the U.S. Army instead of joining with his native Virginia and the Confederate army. Stuart’s one-year-old son had been named after Cooke, but in frustration both he and his wife, Flora, changed the boy’s name from Philip St. George Cooke Stuart to James Ewell Brown Stuart Jr. To reflect the war’s split on the family:  Cooke’s son [James Rogers Cooke] sided with Virginia and so did two of Cooke’s daughters and husbands. Cooke’s other daughter and husband stayed with the Union. To ease his wife’s distress over the family’s Civil War estrangement, Jeb Stuart wrote the following to Flora.

Letter of Col. Jeb Stuart to My Darling Wife from Camp “Qui Vive”, November 24th, 1861

“No my dear wife, for our own part and our children’s sake let us determine to act well our parts and bear with the mistakes and errors of others, however grievous, with the charity of silence but by no means attempt justification of what must be condemned. Read well and consider well those words my darling, and be consoled in what you rightly regard as very distressing, by the reflection that your husband and brothers will atone for the father’s conduct.”

 

FEBRUARY 2017 SPECIAL – BUY copy of Stuart’s Finest Hour at discount of $27.95 and receive FREE a Jeb Stuart bookmark and a FREE copy of Southerners at Rest: Confederate Dead at Hollywood Cemetery where General Stuart is buried!

Hang George H. Thomas

Hang George H. Thomas

Lieutenant Colonel Jeb Stuart wrote to his wife, Flora, in June 1861 that he and his cavalry were operating near Winchester, Virginia protecting Confederate troops commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston. The big question of the time for Southern men was – Do you support and bear arms for your state against the Union? Do you support secession? The excerpt below reflects what Stuart thought and also shows why reading the words of participants in a historical event gives proper perspective.

George H. Thomas, U.S. Army – image Library of Congress

Letter by Lt. Colonel J.E.B. Stuart to My Darling Wife,  The Old Tree (Camp near Winchester) June 11th, 1861

“Old George H. Thomas is in command of the Cavalry of the enemy. I would like to hang him as a traitor to his native state.”  [George H. Thomas was a native Virginian and graduated from West Point in 1840. He remained with the U.S. Army when the Civil War began and later was promoted to major general. See Thomas bio at Civil War Trust]

Stuart excerpt from The Letters of General J.E.B. Stuart, edited by Adele Mitchell, Stuart-Mosby Historical Society, 1990

 

 

FEBRUARY 2017 SPECIAL – BUY copy of Stuart’s Finest Hour at discount of $27.95 and receive FREE a Jeb Stuart bookmark and a FREE copy of Southerners at Rest: Confederate Dead at Hollywood Cemetery where General Stuart is buried!       

Stuarts Finest Hour description

Southerners at Rest description

Jeb Stuart Secedes Against “Lincoln’s diabolical government”

Jeb Stuart Secedes Against “Lincoln’s diabolical government”

Jeb Stuart by Don Troiani

We will continue to honor the memory of Confederate cavalry General Jeb Stuart by printing anecdotes and excerpts from his letters during February. When Stuart resigned his U.S. Army commission on May 3, 1861 to join Virginia forces he hoped that his father-in-law, Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, would do the same. Cooke was a native of Leesburg, Virginia and had been an officer in the U.S. Army since he graduated from West Point in 1827. Cooke was considered the army’s expert on cavalry tactics. The below excerpts from two letters Stuart wrote to his wife Flora reflect his position.

Letter by J.E.B. Stuart to My Darling Wife from  Harpers Ferry, Virginia, May 19th 1861

“How I hope your Pa will resign. If he could only see things in their true and real light – which it is difficult to do so far off – he would resign instanter. He is wanted here very much. He is highly complimented everywhere and would soon take a foremost stand in the State defense. Why doesn’t he come?

Letter by J.E.B. Stuart to My Darling Wife from Harpers Ferry, Virginia, May 21st, 1861

“I am extremely anxious about your Pa and John R. Cooke [son]. I do hope both will resign at once. How can they serve Lincoln’s diabolical government? Your Pa would be made a Brigadier General and he would be on the same side with his children if he would resign. Principle, interest and affection demand his immediate resignation and return to his native State.
[both letters from The Letters of General J.E.B. Stuart, edited by Adele Mitchell, Stuart-Mosby Historical society, 1990]

 

FEBRUARY 2017 SPECIAL – BUY copy of Stuart’s Finest Hour at discount of $27.95 and receive FREE a Jeb Stuart bookmark and a FREE copy of Southerners at Rest: Confederate Dead at Hollywood Cemetery where General Stuart is buried!

Jeb Stuart Birthday Anniversary

Jeb Stuart Birthday Anniversary

“The Bold Cavalier” by John Paul Strain

Yesterday [Monday, February 6] was General Jeb Stuart’s 184th birthday.  May the image of the Bold Cavalier live on in the minds of military tacticians worldwide! Below painting by John Paul Strain “The Bold Cavalier”. All month we will continue to carry anecdotes and excerpts from letters written by the general.