Jeb Stuart was born February 6, 1833, in Patrick County, Va. He attended Emory and Henry College before graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1854.
Stuart served in both Texas and Kansas and was involved in the capture of radical abolitionist John Brown at Harper’s Ferry. Although he was made captain by the U.S. Army, Stuart resigned to join the cause of Virginia in the Civil War. From the beginning of the Civil War, Stuart commanded Confederate cavalry (soldiers on horseback). His intelligence-gathering reconnaissance missions into Union lines proved invaluable to General Lee in numerous battles and his frequent raids on McClellan’s Army in Maryland did much to demoralize Union troops and prevented them from effectively moving against Lee’s army. Stuart also had roles in Confederate victories at Fredericksburg and at Chancellorsville, where he took over command of A.P. Hill’s units when Hill was injured. At the Battle of Gettysburg, however, Stuart arrived too late to provide useful intelligence or to support the Confederate Army with his cavalry, which some experts claim contributed to Lee’s ignorance about the numbers and positions of the Union army, and ultimately its defeat at Gettysburg.
Stuart’s daring nature won him the hearts of his soldiers. Lee referred to Stuart as “The Eyes of the Army." Jeb Stuart was mortally wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern in 1864.