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.”


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