Friday, October 21, 2016

Bold Dragoon

A Review of Bold Dragoon: The Life of J. E. B. Stuart

Bold Dragoon: The Life of J. E. B. Stuart by Emory M. Thomas, is a biography of J.E.B. Stuart, leader of the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. That's right, you Yankee sympathizers, Stuart was a Rebel, a Confederate soldier dedicated to the noble cause of the South. He earned the admiration of his enemies during the first three years of the Civil War and was famous for his daring ride around Yankee General McClellan during the Peninsula Campaign, as well as his raid behind Union lines in Virginia and Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Bold Dragoon is richly researched and detailed. Author Emory Thomas speculates on what drove Stuart and attempts to plumb the depths of the Southern General's mind and heart -- not always successfully. Stuart was a man driven by ambition, but also a man with a talent for tactics and war.

The book gives a detailed account of Stuart's ride around the Union lines prior to Gettysburg and explains how Stuart got the nickname of "Beauty" while at West Point. (Graduated 15th in his class.) Bold Dragoon does not just list Stuart's subordinates but brings them to life and shows why they were important to Stuart and the Southern war effort.

The casual reader may find this book a bit intimidating. Additionally, sometimes I thought Prof. Thomas was going a little far in guessing what was in Stuart's mind, but in all, an excellent analysis.

Stuart was 31 years old when he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern on May 12 in 1864. Stuart's widow wore black for the rest of her life in remembrance of her deceased husband.

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