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Confederate Cavalry Commander Stuart’s Only Known Letter to Confederate Congress
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I understand from Brig. General W. H. F. Lee that you have signified a desire to aid in any legislation needed for the Cavalry service—if we would state succinctly what is wanted….

An Act providing for remuneration for Cavalry horses permanently disabled by… The extension of the law, authorizing military Courts to each Army Corps or Department, so as to include a Division of Cavalry attached to a grand army…A Veterinary Surgeon to each Brigade of Cavalry…

The amount of saving in horseflesh to the Confederacy by a competent Veterinary Surgeon to each Brigade would be incredible.

General J.E.B. Stuart sends a message to Confederate Congressman Muscoe R. H. Garnett with suggestions for legislation to improve the Confederate cavalry. General William Henry Fitzhugh Lee, General Robert E. Lee’s second son, hand-delivered the letter, which articulates Stuart’s love of horses and commitment to the Confederate cavalry. This letter, purchased from the descendants of a Union soldier who had captured it during the Fall of Richmond in 1865, appears to be the only known J.E.B. Stuart letter addressed to the Confederate Congress in private hands.

J.E.B. STUART. Manuscript Letter Signed, to Muscoe Robert Hunter Garnett, April 16, 1863. 2 pp., 7¾ x 10 in.

Inventory #23856       Price: $14,000

Complete Transcript

                                                                        Hd. Qrs. Cavalry Division

                                                                        Army of Nor Va

                                                                        April 16th 1863

My Dear Sir

I understand from Brig. General W. H. F. Lee that you have signified a desire to aid in any legislation needed for the Cavalry service—if we would state succinctly what is wanted. Availing myself of your kind offer I submit the following through his kindness for your consideration.

I     An Act providing for remuneration for Cavalry horses permanently disabled by wounds or rendered permanently unserviceable by accident received when the owner is in the immediate execution of an order - or unavoidably captured by the enemy. The question to be determined by a board to be composed of 3 officers of the Regiment to be designated by the Colonel as the “disabled horse board” or upon the order of a General officer.

II    The extension of the law, authorizing military Courts to each Army Corps or Department, so as to include a Division of Cavalry attached to a <2> grand army – as absolutely necessary to ensure speedy trial and justice, and preserve discipline. (See copy of urgent letter on this subject to Gen. R. E. Lee, April 9 1863).

III   A Veterinary Surgeon to each Brigade of Cavalry, to be selected and appointed after thorough examination into his qualifications, with the rank of Major. 

The amount of saving in horseflesh to the Confederacy by a competent Veterinary Surgeon to each Brigade would be incredible.

I assure you that no greater service could be rendered the cavalry of the Provisional Army than the passage of such laws as embrace the foregoing.

                                                                        I have the honor to be

Most Respectfully / Yr obt servant

                                                                        J.E.B. Stuart.

                                                                        Major Genl / Comdg

Hon M. R. H. Garnett

C.S. House of Representatives

Thro Gen. W. H. F. Lee

<3><4>

[Docketing:] Memo. From Genl J. E. B. Stuart about paying for Horses.

Historical Background

On April 4, 1863, Congressman Garnett introduced a resolution that “the Committee on Military Affairs inquire into the expedience of providing veterinary surgeons for the cavalry,” and the House agreed to the resolution. However, the Congress adjourned on May 1, and did not meet again until December 7, 1863. Within a week of convening, Congressman Alexander Boteler of Virginia offered resolutions “That the Committee on Military Affairs inquire into the expediency of providing by law for the appointment of a veterinary surgeon, with the rank of captain, to each brigade of cavalry, the appointment to be made upon due examination before a board of at least three colonels of cavalry” and “That the Committee on Military Affairs inquire into the expediency of amending the law establishing a military court for each army corps, so as to authorize a similar court to commands of cavalry composed of two or more divisions.”[1] The House adopted both resolutions, but the issue apparently died in committee, as there is no more action on the issue. The Confederacy likely could not find qualified veterinarians to fill the positions, as the war dragged into its fourth year. There is also no evidence that the Confederate Congress considered Stuart’s proposal of a “disabled horse board.”

James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart (1833-1864) was born in southern Virginia and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1854. He served in the frontier army and participated in the capture of John Brown at Harpers Ferry. When Virginia seceded, he resigned to serve in the Confederate Army, first under Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and then under Robert E. Lee. As commander of cavalry for the Army of Northern Virginia, he became Lee’s “eyes and ears.” He twice audaciously circumnavigated the Union Army of the Potomac, and he cultivated a cavalier image with cape and hat with ostrich plume. His separation from the main army during the Gettysburg campaign left Lee blind to Union troop movements, and during the next year’s Overland Campaign, Union cavalry under Philip Sheridan attacked Stuart’s cavalry and left him mortally wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern in mid-May 1864.

Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett (1821-1864) was born in Virginia and received a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1842. He represented Virginia’s first district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1856 to 1861. He was a delegate to both the Virginia secession convention and the state constitutional convention in 1861. He represented Virginia’s first district in the Confederate House of Representatives from February 1862 to February 1864. He died of typhoid fever.

Condition

Body of text somewhat light, but featuring a strong, bold signature by Stuart, spine fold partly separated, minor separation to one horizontal mailing fold, else fine condition.


[1] Journal of the Confederate Congress, April 4, 1863, 6:292; December 14, 1863, 6:530.


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