"Jeb never says, 'Go boys,' but always 'Come, boys.'" In writing these words George Cary Eggleston of the 1st Virginia Cavalry summed up his commander's philosophy of leadership. Stuart never sent his men where he could not go and never asked them to do what he would not do. As a result they followed his plume anywhere, anytime he cared to lead them.
Stuart's leadership had many facets that were ably demonstrated throughout his career. His charismatic personality drew men to him; his ability lead them into and out out danger bred a confidence that enabled them to dare anything. At the same time his training methods prepared them for what they would encounter in the field. His engineer officer, W.W. Blackford, observed that Stuart's camps were all "business." He drilled his hard in camp and in the field. He took them where knew they would face artillery fire, just for the experience. He told them never to gallop away from the enemy. His men would trot. He inculcated in them the "spirit of chase".
The ability to recognize and nourish talent in others is also a mark of leadership. A belief glance over the names of men who owed their careers to Stuart's keen eye for talent reveal a Who's Who of the cavalry and horse artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia. From John Singleton Mosby, the war's premier partisan leader,
to cavalry commanders Fitzhugh Lee, W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee, and Thomas L. Rosser to name but a few, to John Pelham, Jim Breathed, Robert F. Beckham, and Roger P. Chew of the horse artillery, Stuart sought out, molded, and promoted men in whom he saw the mark of greatness. He challenged them as he challenged himself. He led and expected them to be able to do the same. Seldom was he disappointed.
As a leader, he also needed to demonstrate for the officers under his command that he could follow others. Dependability, independent decision-making, and co-operation are all hallmarks of good leadership. Joseph E. Johnston, Thomas J. Jackson and Robert E. Lee saw all these qualities in Stuart and gave him responsibility accordingly. They knew Stuart would carry out all his duties with an eye to achieving their goals. They trusted him and knew they could rely on him. Not surprisingly, Stuart would often sign his letters with the words, "Yours to count on." He meant it. As a result, Stuart provided the officers under his command with an example they could emulate.
Without doubt, Stuart's leadership skills helped build the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia into one of the finest mounted forces the world had ever seen.
Robert J. Trout
This sign is a gift of
Hal M. Stuart and Bonnie Hall Stuart of Elkin, North Carolina
In Memory of Henry Hall
Company E - 13th Regiment North Carolina Troops