From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/8/1903, p. 4, c. 2
GENERAL J. E. B. STUART.
The Stuart Monument Association have shown unwonted activity of late, and now have made quite sure that the great Virginia cavalryman shall have a monument worthy of his fame. It will be the third equestrian statue to be raised in Richmond, the others here being dedicated to Washington and Lee. The site selected is on the Capitol Square.
It is tolerably certain that the proposed Capitol improvements will include a broad and graceful flight of granite steps from the front of the Capitol portico to the ground, and its landing on the ground will be not far from the Stuart Monument site. In other words, the chosen site is immediately in front of the portico, and would be bisected by Franklin Street, if that thoroughfare were extended through the Square. It is a shapely slope, set in grass, void of trees except two small ones.
Of old, this slope was much higher where it verged upon the Capitol Building than it is now. Some three or four feet of it was shaved off the last time the Capitol Square was “remodeled” and reshaped. Then the little wooden “belfry” that stood there was taken down and the bell was put into the bell tower – the dignified, not to say solemn-looking structure which blocks the eastward course of Franklin Street through the Capitol Square. That tower is one of Richmond’s modern antiquities and is an important object of historical interest.
For a long time the Capitol was guarded by a company of uniformed and excellently drilled State soldiers, known as “the Public Guard,” and those on duty there had their guard-room in the tower, while their general headquarters were in the old Armory at the south end of Fifth Street. Part of their duty was to ring the bell in the tower. This was done to announce the hour of meeting of the General Assembly. It was also pealed as pathetically as possible when either House lacked a quorum and when the sergeant-at-arms was notified to bring in embers. It was likewise rung in case of fire in the city.
More important yet, it became the alarm bell for the war period, when the militia were summoned to duty to repel the frequent raids by the Federal cavalry. On those momentous occasions the youth of the town, from 16 to 18, and “the silver grays,” from 45 to 55, and the battalions of Confederate Departmental clerks, etc., assembled on the Square to march forth and man the intrenchments.
That bell rang out this war-cry on May 10th, 1864, and a few days later it was mournfully tolling for the death of “Jeb” Stuart! And on another dreadful day, to wit, April 27, 1870, it rang out, as if the Capitol were on fire; but the firemen and the assembled spectators were horrified to find that “the Capital Disaster” had occurred and that 65 men were killed and 200 wounded.
Lee and his army had been fighting Grant in the wilderness and on the Rappahannock, when Lee learned of Sheridan’s raid on Richmond and sent Stuart to intercept it. Stuart was on hand here in time. Near the Yellow Tavern in Henrico county, out the Brook Road, about six miles from this city, there was an engagement on May 11th which compelled Sheridan to retire in hot haste; but Stuart, riding from one position to another, was fired upon by a straggling dismounted Federal and was mortally wounded.
Stuart had emptied his revolver – he had not a shot left, and the Federal quietly rested his carbine on the top rail of a fence, took good aim and shot Stuart in the groin. Two of our men helped Stuart off his horse. Soon a little crowd (Andrew Venable and others) gathered about him, and just then General Fitz Lee came riding to the front. Stuart said in his usual tone of voice: “Halloo Fitz, go ahead, old fellow. I know you will do what is right.” An ambulance coming up, Stuart was placed in it and brought to Richmond. Here he died the next day; aged 31.
The last written order given by Stuart is preserved. It was addressed to General Bradley T. Johnson and asked of the latter the loan of the fine battery in his (Johnson’s) brigade.
Stuart’s last dispatch was written at Ashland 6:30 A. M., May 11th, was addressed to General Braxton Bragg here, informed the latter of the writer’s plans and closed by saying, “My men and horses are tired, hungry and jaded, but ALL RIGHT.” This was brought to Richmond, through perils and difficulties, by A. S. George (now Dr. George), of Richmond, a member of the Hanover Troop.
That General Stuart and his men saved Richmond from sack and burning no doubt ever has been entertained. Out City Council was so well satisfied of the fact that it promised on behalf of Richmond to erect a suitable monument to Stuart’s memory. It has never done so; but that it will do its duty now, and in furtherance of the present movement, there isn’t a shadow of doubt.
Stuart was buried in Hollywood. Over his grave his family caused a suitable shaft to be raised. By his side rests his little daughter, Flora, of whose death he spoke in the tenderest terms while upon his death bed. His dearly beloved wife survives, as does his son, who bears his father’s full name.
John Estes Cooke, H. B. McClellan, John R. Thompson, Edward A. Pollard and others have written well of Stuart. Thompson’s poem is particularly sweet, and in its closing lines it recalls the Spanish legend of the Cid, who after death rode sedately along his lines, even as in life. And so, too, Stuart seem to our pot to ride out of our dark and troubled story.
“And sometimes, when the silver bugles blow.
That ghostly form, in battle reappearing
Shall lead his horsemen on the foe,
In victory careering.”