“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Richmond in Henrico County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Stuart's Ride

Passing through the Lines


—1862 Peninsula Campaign —

Stuart's Ride Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, May 26, 2012
1. Stuart's Ride Marker
Inscription. (Preface): In May 1862, Union Gen. George B. McClellan led the Army of the Potomac up the Peninsula to the gates of Richmond. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June and began planning a counterattack. On June 12, Gen. J.E.B. Stuart led 1,200 cavalrymen on a daring 3-day reconnaissance and discovered that the Union right flank was unsecured. Stuart's "Ride around McClellan" gave Lee the vital information he needed to launch the offensive known as the Seven Days' Battles on June 26.

The fortifications directly in front of you are part of the outer defensive line that protected the Confederate capital of Richmond. At 5 A.M. on June 12, 1862, Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and 1,200 cavalrymen, including several who knew the local roads, left their camps on the Mordecai and Young farms just behind you and passed through the line here. The newly appointed Confederate commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee, had ordered Stuart's cavalry to probe the Federal army for weaknesses and to locate the positions of the Union flanks. Riding north on the Brook Turnpike (to your right), the column passed through the outer defenses at this point to begin what became Stuart's famed ride that circled Union Gen. George B. McClellan's army.

In the spring of 1862, before Lee's counterattack, Confederate
Portraits and Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, May 26, 2012
2. Portraits and Map
Portraits of Gens. Stuart and Lee are above a wartime map showing the Richmond defenses. A red star indicates the location of these fortifications.
engineer Maj. Walter H. Stevens strengthened Richmond's fortifications, largely with slave labor. Lee utilized the terrain and the strong earthworks to reduce the number of soldiers needed to protect the city at any give location and to free more men for combat. The lines were attacked and abandoned to the Federal army three times during the war.

(Sidebar): Stuart's love of music was legendary. Musicians often accompanied Stuart both on the march and in camp. Reportedly, on June 12, 1862, infantrymen watching Stuart's riders leave these outer defenses asked how long they would be gone. Quoting a popular song of the time, "Kathleen Mavourneen," Stuart responded, "It may be for years, it may be forever." The rest of the column soon joined in. Songs written to glorify the exploits of Stuart's 1862 raids soon appeared, including "Jine the Cavalry" and "Riding a Raid." Richmond artist Ernest Crehen and publisher J.W. Randolph created the lithograph cover for the sheet music for the latter song.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 37° 36.656′ N, 77° 27.502′ W. Marker is near Richmond, Virginia, in Henrico County. Marker can be
Cover of "Riding a Raid." image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, May 26, 2012
3. Cover of "Riding a Raid."
reached from Brook Road (U.S. 1) 0.1 miles west of Brook Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Located in Brook Run shopping plaza. Marker is in this post office area: Richmond VA 23227, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Confederate Fortifications (a few steps from this marker); The Fort Under Attack (within shouting distance of this marker); Gabriel’s Insurrection (within shouting distance of this marker); Richmond Defences (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Brook Road (about 400 feet away); Outer Fortifications (about 400 feet away); Campaign of 1781 (about 400 feet away); Emmanuel Church at Brook Hill Episcopal (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Markers related to J.E.B. Stuart's Ride around McClellan
Also see . . .  Richmond Discoveries - Stuart's Ride. Information and map of the Stuart's Ride Civil War Trail (pdf file). (Submitted on December 16, 2012.) 
Additional comments.
1. Lee's use of slave labor
Very interesting. I have stumbled upon newspaper accounts, brief mentions, showing that the massive earth works around Richmond and Petersburg
Map of Stuart's Ride Route image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, May 26, 2012
4. Map of Stuart's Ride Route
were made largely by slave labor. No one thought much of it at the time, but several newspaper articles discussed how the slaves were gathered -- slave owners who owned more than 10 slaves had to donate 10% of their able male slaves for Lee to use in the construction of the earthworks. Slave owners were to be paid 16 dollars a month, to compensate them for use of the slaves. This is really a fascinating aspect of the Civil War, since the earthworks kept Richmond and Petersburg going for years. If you have been to Fort McCallister, and walked around the earthworks, you can see how difficult it would have been to breech them. They were designed to give defenders the ability to defend at 10-20 to 1 ratio. Nothing could blow the earthworks apart. Certainly no cannon of the period could remove them. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted August 17, 2012, by Mark Curran of Morton, Illinois.

Categories. War, US Civil
Stuart's Ride Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, May 26, 2012
5. Stuart's Ride Marker
Earthworks image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, May 26, 2012
6. Earthworks
Preserved section of earthworks near the marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 27, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 809 times since then and 67 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 27, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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