This blog has so far covered none of the actions of the extended Pannill family during the Civil War except to note
our relationship with the likes of General J. E. B. Stuart, Lee’s great cavalry commander and the son of Elizabeth Pannill Stuart. Many books take up Jeb Stuart, and
it seems surplusage to add much about him.
But one observation sticks in my memory. After the wounding of Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville, Jeb Stuart took over command of Jackson’s Second Corps as the senior general on the field. Stuart commanded the Second Corps throughout the remainder of the battle.
On the morning of May 3, Stuart’s corps assaulted the Union’s commanding artillery position at Hazel Grove. Hooker withdrew his artillery – a “fatal mistake,” writes General E. Porter Alexander – and from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., Stuart sent brigade after brigade against the Union positions on each side of the Orange Turnpike. E. Alexander, Military Memoirs of a Confederate, p. 345 (Scribner’s 1907).
This was the bloodiest fighting of the battle. Jackson’s three divisions had possessed a paper strength of 26,661. They lost 7,158 men in the battle. That was an overall casualty rate of 27 percent. The battle May 3 likely caused the highest casualties. Yet Stuart’s corps drove the enemy out and rejoined Lee’s force about 10 a.m. near the Chancellorsville house that Hooker had used as headquarters.
When Lee rode out of the smoke, his army erupted in cheering. Lee and Jackson — and now Stuart — had driven
back an enemy force more than double their size. A Confederate officer wrote, “it must have been from such a scene that men in ancient times rose to the dignity of gods.”
The great historian Edwin Bearss eschews counter-factual history – by which he means what might have happened. But General Alexander believes Lee should have promoted Jeb Stuart to command of Jackson’s corps based on his performance at Chancellorsville. He writes (p. 360):
“Had Gen. Lee been present on the [Confederate] left, during the Sunday morning attack [of May 3], and seen Stuart’s energy and efficiency in handling his reserves, inspiring the men by his contagious spirit, and in the co-operation of artillery, with the infantry, he might have rewarded Stuart on the spot by promoting him to the now vacant command of Jackson’s corps. Ewell, who did succeed Jackson, was always loved and admired, but he was not always equal to his opportunities, as we shall see at Gettysburg. [Ewell had lost a leg in battle.] Stuart’s qualities were just what were needed, for he was young, he was not maimed, and he had boldness, persistence, and magnetism in very high degree. Lee once said that he would have won Gettysburg, had he had Jackson with him. Who so worthy to succeed Jackson as the man who had successfully replaced him on his last and greatest field?”
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