Report of Maj. Gen. James E. B. Stuart

HDQRS. CAV. DIV., ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
March 25, 1863.

GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose herewith the very graphic report of Brig. Gen. Fitz. Lee, of the battle of Kellysville (March 17), between his brigade and a division of the enemy’s cavalry. There is little to be said in addition. The dispositions made for meeting this anticipated raid were sufficient to have prevented, or very much retarded, the crossing of the Rappahannock at Kellysville. The report shows wherein these dispositions failed of their object. The brigade, however, under its noble chief, so redeemed the day by an exhibition of the most extraordinary heroism that we are half disposed to lose sight of the picket failure in the outset.

Being charged by the commanding general specially with “preparations to meet Stoneman,” I was present on this occasion, because of the responsibility which would necessarily attach to me for what was done; but having approved of Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee’s plans, I determined not to interfere with his command of the brigade as long as it was commanded so entirely to my satisfaction, and I took special pride in witnessing its gallant conduct under its accomplished leader.

The defeat was decided, and the enemy, broken and demoralized, retired under cover of darkness to his place of refuge (the main army), having abandoned in defeat an expedition undertaken with boasting and vainglorious demonstration.

I have the honor to inclose a copy of congratulatory orders from division and brigade headquarters, and an order announcing to the division the death of the lamented and noble Pelham. I was especially indebted to him for his usual gallant services, and to Capt. Harry [W.] Gilmor, Twelfth Virginia Cavalry, who accompanied me as volunteer staff [officer]; Maj. Lewis F. Terrell (the court-martial to which he belonged having taken a recess) buckled on his sword with commendable zeal, and came to the field, where he acquitted himself with credit, both as an artillery and as a staff officer. <ar39_59>

I cordially concur with the brigadier-general commanding in the high praise he bestows on Col. T. L. Rosser, Fifth Virginia Cavalry, who, though severely wounded at 2 p.m., remained in command at the head of his regiment until the day was won, and night put an end to further operations; on Col. James H. Drake, First Virginia Cavalry, who led his regiment in a brilliant charge upon the enemy’s flank, routing and pursuing him to his stronghold; on the lamented [Maj. John W.]Puller and his comrades fallen; on Lieut. [Bernard] Hill Carter, jr., Third Virginia Cavalry, and [Adjutant] Peter Fontaine, Fourth Virginia Cavalry, whose individual prowess attracted my personal attention and remark, the latter receiving a severe wound; on the very efficient staff of General Lee, enumerated in his report, and the many others to whom the 17th of March will ever be the proudest of days.

Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee exhibited, in the operations antecedent to and consequent upon the enemy’s crossing, the sagacity of a successful general, and under the blessing of Divine Providence we are indebted to his prompt and vigorous action and the determined bravery of his men for this signal victory, which, when the odds are considered, was one of the most brilliant achievements of the war, General Lee’s command in action being less than 800.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. B. STUART,

Major-General, Commanding.

Brig. Gen. R. H. CHILTON,

Asst. Adjt. and Insp. Gen., Hdqrs. Army of Northern Virginia.

—–

GENERAL ORDERS No. 8.

HDQRS. CAV. DIV., ARMY OF N. VA.,
March 18, 1863.

The series of fierce contests in which Brig. Gen. Fitz. Lee’s brigade was engaged on the 17th instant, with an enemy greatly superior in numbers, resulting in entire success to us, reflects the highest credit on its commander, its officers, and its men. On no occasion have I seen more instances of individual prowess–never such heroic firmness in the presence of danger the most appalling. The enemy, afraid to contest the palm as cavalry, preferred to rely upon his artillery, ensconcing his cavalry, dismounted, behind stone fences and other barriers, which alone saved him from capture or annihilation, thus converting the long vaunted raid, which was “to break the backbone of the rebellion,” with preparations complete for an extensive expedition, into a feeble advance and a defensive operation. The serious disaster inflicted upon this insolent foe, in which he was driven, broken and discomfited, across the Rappahannock–leaving many of his dead and wounded on the field–was not without loss to us. The gallant Pelham–so noble, so true–will be mourned by the nation. The brave [Major John W.] Puller, the intrepid Harris, and our fallen heroes in the ranks have left a legacy of imperishable renown, and the memory of their fate will give a keener edge to vengeance in the next conflict.

Commanders will take care to record while fresh in their memories the instances of personal heroism for future use, and the brigade will have the [battle] of Kellysville inscribed on its banner as its greatest achievement.

J. E. B. STUART,

Major-General, Commanding.

<ar39_60>

GENERAL ORDERS No. 9.

HDQRS. CAV. DIV., ARMY OF N. VA.,
March 20, 1863.

The major-general commanding approaches with reluctance the painful duty of announcing to the division its irreparable loss in the death of Maj. John Pelham, commanding the Horse Artillery. He fell mortally wounded in the battle of Kellysville, March 17, with the battle-cry on his lips and the light of victory beaming from his eye. To you, his comrades, it is needless to dwell upon what you have so often witnessed, his prowess in action, already proverbial. You well know how, though young in years, a mere stripling in appearance, remarkable for his genuine modesty of deportment, he yet disclosed on the battle-field the conduct of a veteran, and displayed in his handsome person the most imperturbable coolness in danger. His eye had glanced over every battle-field of this army from the first Manassas to the moment of his death, and he was, with a single exception, a brilliant actor in all. The memory of “the gallant Pelham,” his many manly virtues, his noble nature and purity of character, are enshrined as a sacred legacy in the hearts of all who knew him. His record has been bright and spotless, his career brilliant and successful He fell the noblest of sacrifices on the altar of his country, to whose glorious service he had dedicated his life from the beginning of the war. In token of respect for his cherished memory, the Horse Artillery and division staff will wear the military badge of mourning for thirty days, and the senior officer of staff, Major [Heros] Von Borcke, will place his remains in the possession of his bereaved family, to whom is tendered in behalf of the division the assurance of heartfelt sympathy in this deep tribulation. In mourning his departure from his accustomed post of honor on the field, let us strive to imitate his virtues, and trust that what is loss to us may be more than gain to him.

By command of Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart:

R. CHANNING PRICE,

Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Indorsement.]

HEADQUARTERS, March 26, 1863.

Respectfully forwarded for the information of the Department. I feel deeply the loss of the noble dead, and heartily concur in the commendation of the living.(*)

R. E. LEE,

General.

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