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Lot 87: April 16, 1863 J.E.B. STUART Rare Civil War Autograph Field Written Letter
29 October 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
Historic April 16, 1863 Confederate General "J.E.B. Stuart" Civil War Autograph Letter Signed Concerning the Cavalry
JAMES EWELL BROWN "JEB" STUART. Famous Civil War Confederate General.
April 16, 1863-Dated Civil War Period, Rare Autograph "Field" Written Letter Signed, "J.E.B. Stuart," 2 pages, 7.75" x 10", "Hd. Qrs. Cavalry Division, Army of Nor Va.," Fine. Written to the Hon. Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett (1821-1864), a Virginia Representative to the Confederate States Congress concerning pending legislation concerning the cavalry and the care of horses. Body of the written text is overall somewhat light, in light tan ink on evenly toned light blue lined period paper. It does bear a strong, bold Signature by Stuart. The spine fold is separated, with minor separation to one horizontal mailing fold. The Letter was hand delivered to Garnett by Robert E. Lee's oldest son, General W.H. F. "Rooney" Lee. This wonderful content Letter relates Stuart's love of the Cavalry and his concern for the care of its horses! It reads, in full:
"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.
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. 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 - as absolutely necessary to ensure speedy trial and justice, and preserve discipline. (See copy of urgent letter on this subject to General R.E. Lee, April 9th, 1863).
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 horse flesh 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."
This is believed to be the Only Known J.E.B. Stuart "Field Letter" addressed to the Confederate Congress in private hands. It is said by the consignor to have been purchased at one time (no documentation present) from the descendants of a Civil War Union soldier who had captured it during the Fall of Richmond in 1865.
A Resolution concerning provisions for veterinary surgeons for the cavalry had already been introduced in the Confederate Congress on April 4, 1863. However the CSA Congress went into recess on May 1st, not meeting again until December 7th, 1863. Within a week, the Confederate Congress said once again, "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."
In addition, the CSA Congress, "Resolved, 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. Resolved, That the Committee on Military Affairs inquire into the expediency of so amending the law abolishing regimental commissaries as to except the cavalry regiments from it operation." (Journal of the Confederate Congress, April 4, 1863, 6:292; December 14, 1863, 6:530).
It would appear that the issue died in committee as no mention of further action on the matter was recorded. Due to increasing manpower shortages as the war dragged on, it is likely that it proved impossible to find qualified personnel to fill the positions.