Death of JEB Stuart


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 6, 1864

Welcome to our online archive of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. These papers give a unique view of the war, created by the people who lived it. It is full of stories and illustrations created by correspondents deployed to the front lines. They lived with the Soldiers, and experienced the war first hand.

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Peace Movement

Peace Movement

Rousseau Expedition

Rousseau Expedition

Sherman March Atlanta

Sherman's March on Atlanta

Petersburg Trenches


General J.E.B. Stuart

Stuart Death

Death of JEB Stuart

Penny Shortage

Penny Shortage

Marietta Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Peterburg Siege

Trenches at the Siege of Petersburg

Cavalry Raid

Cavalry Raid






[AUGUST 6, 1864.


(Previous Page) when, with 1800 cavalry and four cannon, he passed from the south of the Potomac, traversed Maryland, and passing Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, at noon, entered Chambersburg after dark of the same day. The town surrendered without resistance. The troopers remained until next day, took all the spoil they desired, destroyed a great amount of property, and retreated across the Potomac on the left of General McCLELLAN'S army without serious loss. General STUART had headed the cavalry of the Confederate army from the outset through all its battles. After the fight at Ashland the wounded General was carried into Richmond, where he died at eight o'clock in the evening of the next day, in the house of his relative, Dr. BREWER.

The following relating to his last hours is from the Richmond Examiner : "At half-past seven it was evident to the physicians that death was setting its clammy seal upon the brave, open brow of the General, and they told him so, asking if he had any last message to give. The General, with a mind perfectly clear and possessed, then made disposition of his staff and personal effects. To Mrs. LEE, the wife of General LEE, he directed that his golden spurs be given, as a dying memento of his love and esteem for her husband. To his staff officers he gave his horses. So particular was he in small things, even in the dying hour, that he said to one of his staff, who was a heavy-built man, ' You had better take the larger horse ; he will carry you better.' To his young son he left his glorious sword. His worldly matters closed, the eternal interests of his soul engaged his mind. Turning to the Rev. Mr. PETERKIN, a minister of the Episcopal Church, of which General STUART was a member, he asked him to sing a hymn, and joined in it with all the voice his strength would permit. He then joined in prayer with the minister. To the doctor he again said, ' I am going fast now. I am resigned. God's will be done.' Thus died General J. E. B. STUART."


" Boy's, do any of you feel like volunteering on a special service of considerable risk?"

"What is it, Captain ?" inquired Jackson.

"Don't know any more about it than that the General intends to send a detachment of volunteers, under the command of Lieutenant Bradford, the Tennesseean, whom you must all know pretty well by this time, on some particular mission. Bradford says he wants no man to volunteer unless he is prepared to face hot work. You all know what kind of a fighter he is, and what you need expect if you go with him," answered the Captain.

"I'm his man, for one!" exclaimed Jackson, jumping up with great alacrity.

Jackson was a wiry specimen of the genus Hoosier, and measured nearly six feet without his army-shoes.

"And I'm another!" "Count me in!" "I don't want to be left out in that deal !" "Nor I won't be euchred !" were some of the exclamations of the men as they sprang to their feet.

" There ! hold on ! The whole company can't go ! He has two regiments to choose his men from," said the Captain. "Let the first ten that offered fall in and march to head-quarters."

With a similar spirit evinced throughout the regiments, Bradford had no trouble in securing more than double the number called for, and the great difficulty now was, who should go and who remain behind. Leaving him to settle this vexed question, we turn to other characters who figure in this brief drama of real life.

Dr. C   's residence stood a few miles from Greenville, in East Tennessee. The Doctor was a native of the South, but had been educated at the North. At the time that Governor Harris and his co-laborers in treason endeavored to fasten Tennessee to the tail of the Secession car the Doctor was absent traveling in Asia, and was still detained abroad by sickness, and it was not publicly known which side had his sympathies; but the Secessionists claimed him as their own. In his absence his household was under the charge of a widowed sister and her daughter, a girl verging upon twenty summers. She was a native of Tennessee, but had also been educated at the North, and had brought back with her many New England ideas.

Though not a beauty, Emma H---- was a very prepossessing girl, and among her admirers and aspirants for her hand were Joseph Bradford and Richard Wharton. The latter had spent a number of years in California, in the mining districts, and had accumulated a few thousand dollars by his industry at the mines or at the gaming-table—probably at both. He was vain of his wealth, and de-lighted in flashy parades of it in the way of dress. Among his other notions, he had a black velvet vest, adorned with buttons made of gold quarter-eagles, and a blue dress-coat with gold half-eagles for buttons, and a massive fob-chain of gold dollars. Some persons were kind enough to attribute this to eccentricity, but in fact it was the design of a vulgar, semi-bravado mind. Wharton desired to be thought important, and he considered that when arrayed in this dress, and wearing a profusion of rings and other trinkets, that he must strike the " poor white trash" with awe, if it did not let others know that he was a man of "distinguished consideration." He was somewhere between twenty-eight and thirty years of age, and hailed from Mississippi. He frequently made long visits to a relative who lived near Dr. C—'s residence, and it was there he had met Emma. She at once struck his fancy, and hearing that she would fall heir to Dr. C—'s estate, he resolved that he would take her for a wife, but was greatly taken aback when he found that Emma would hardly treat him with ordinary politeness. This piqued him and threw him upon his metal. He thought that he was got up fine enough to suit any girl, and all that ], he had to do was to ask and the girls would jump at the chance of getting so fine a fellow.

Wharton was not long in discovering that he had

a rival in the person of young Bradford, who, he learned, was a favorite with Emma, and would likely carry her off some day unless he prevented it. His first idea was to pick a quarrel and then a fight with Bradford; but he soon ascertained that that would be extremely dangerous business, for Brad-ford had the reputation of being an extremely quiet, modest man, who endeavored as much as possible to avoid altercations, but that when aroused he was a very dangerous antagonist. This kind of a man it did not suit Wharton to quarrel with. He wanted odds when he fought. If Bradford had been of a meek, yielding disposition, lacking the pluck to fight, Wharton would have gloried in quarreling with him. He therefore determined that he would accomplish his purpose in some other way than by a personal quarrel.

Thus matters stood when the rebellion broke out, and it was with feelings of exultation that Wharton heard that young Bradford adhered to the cause of the Union. He soon left for Mississippi, where, by dint of his money and energy, he succeeded in placing himself at the head. of as villainous a set of desperadoes as ever went unhung, by holding out special promises of plunder. He called them Partisan Rangers, organized to defend the altars of Southern homes from the polluting tread of Yankee Hessians. When this band had performed the dirty work of the Secession magnates in Mississippi —work at which the Southern soldier who went into the ranks to meet his Northern enemy in battle-array revolted—Wharton started for Tennessee to carry out the same programme there—extermination to all who refused to join the rebel cause.

When Wharton reached East Tennessee he determined to establish a reputation, that his fame might reach Emma before he called to renew his addresses. But when he did call she treated him with contempt. This so stirred up the devil within him that when he left Dr. C—'s residence he re-paired to the camp of his band, and gave the order for a demonstration upon the Bradford farm, and for his men to help themselves.

It was toward dusk when his gang reached the Bradford homestead, and one of the desperadoes ruthlessly fired and killed the elder Bradford as he was sitting on the porch. Others seized an elder brother of Joseph Bradford, and, despite the en-treaties of his mother, wife, and children, hung him up to a tree in front of the house—a tree that his father had planted on the day of his birth.

"They were enemies of the South, and deserved all they got !" was the brutal reply of Wharton to the entreaties of the mother to cut down her son be-fore life should become extinct.

The men having a carte blanche to plunder, spread themselves about the place, and the women and children fled in terror to escape enormities which they had reason to suppose would be inflicted if they remained. \%Then the ruffians had appeased their thirst for plunder, the incendiary torch was applied to finish the job.

The next morning Joseph Bradford returned home, after a short absence, to behold the old homestead a pile of smouldering ruins, near which was the charred remains of a much-loved father, while not far distant was the inanimate body of a clearly beloved brother suspended from a tree.

For a while his feelings utterly overcame him, and he was aroused from a sort of half stupor by a neighbor who had, with several others, cautiously approached to inter the bodies. They approached cautiously, for they well knew that if any of Wharton's gang discovered them their homes would share the same fate. Among the number was a venerable clergyman, who had been driven from his home in the South because it was known that his son had gone off to join the Union army, and he had sought refuge with his friends in the mountains. This old man read the burial-service in a feeble voice, and then offered up a simple but touching prayer, and the re-mains were consigned to their mother earth.

After this sacred rite was performed Bradford sought his mother. He found her, with the other members of the family, at Dr. C—'s, and Emma and her mother endeavoring to console them. His interview with them was brief, and their parting trying.

"Mother, I can not stay ! I have registered a vow in Heaven, offered upon the grave of my father and brother, that I would never rest so long as a traitor's foot polluted the soil of Tennessee ! Emma, I can not thank you now—some other time ! Be kind to them. Farewell !"

With which he mounted his horse and rode off.

Reader, were you ever in the mountains at night? Not on a clear, balmy night, when the air is fragrant with choicest incense and bright with stars ; but a night when the flood-gates of heaven are open, and the thunder leaps from peak to peak, with the winds shattering and uprooting the monarchs of the forest, striking terror to all living things, driving man as well as beast to seek shelter from the fury of the elements: when the Great Bear above follows the example of the lesser bears below, and seeks shelter of a friendly cloud, so that not even the pointers to the North Star are visible? Were you ever in the mountains on such a night ?—a night when darkness was upon the face of Nature, and a dark cloud hovering over your fortunes enshrouding those whom you held most clear, who were clinging to you for safety, depending upon your strong right arm and valiant heart to shield them from human hell-hounds, who had driven them from their homes, and were on their track thirsting for your blood be-cause you would not hunt under the same leash?—You have not ? Then you know not what it is to be a Unionist of East Tennessee, nor the price those men have paid for refusing to bow down to Gesler's cap stuck upon a pole in the market-place. Talk not to those men of compromise, or "peace at any price," with the besotted wretches who have wantonly driven them from happy homes—thrust the torch of the incendiary under the roof-tree of the old homestead, and left their helpless families to the mercy of the elements, until justice has been appeased and the devil has got his due !

It was on such wild night as this that a group of men, women, and children were cowering beneath

a cleft in the rocks to shield themselves, as much as possible, from the fury of the storm, which they had chosen to encounter rather than intrust themselves to the mercy of their own race.

When the storm had spent its fury, some leaves and brush were gathered from a nook that had protected them from the water, and a fire was kindled to dry the garments of the women and children.

The fire had not been burning much over an hour before they were surrounded by a body of soldiers. The smoke had revealed their hiding-place.

The poor hunted fugitives now gave themselves up for lost ; their number was too small to think of offering any resistance, which, if offered, would only aggravate the cruelty that would be practiced to-ward the women and children. However, their fears were soon relieved; for, instead of enemies, the soldiers proved to be friends, under the command of Bradford, who recognized among them two of the neighbors who had assisted at his father's burial. They had been driven from their homes by Wharton's desperadoes.

The mission which Bradford had sought was to destroy this ruffian band, and succor refugees in the mountains, and enable the men to gain the Union lines. He escorted those whom he had found to a place where the women and children would be cared for—the men eagerly asking the privilege of joining his command. From them he gained much needed information, and arranged his plans accordingly.

It would be needless, for the purpose of this sketch, to trace Wharton and his partisans in all their outrageous acts upon almost defenseless people. He took care, in the regions which he passed through, to avoid a conflict with Union troops, if their numbers were nearly equal with his own—he still .wanted odds in his favor when he fought. His mission was to carry the horror of a savage warfare to the hearths of those Southerners who were true to the Union their fathers had fought to establish. After an absence of some weeks he again returned to the vicinity of Dr. C--'s residence, and made repeated efforts to gain an interview with Emma, but they were of no avail. She persisted in refusing to see him.

This action on the part of Emma chafed Wharton terribly. He determined to make her his wife whether she was willing or not, and would hesitate at no means, however violent, to accomplish that object. Of course, the first step to be taken for that purpose was to get her in his clutches beyond the possibility of escape. Having made up his mind on this point, he selected a number of his most trusty followers, and under the cover of night approached Dr. C—'s residence, seized Emma, and bore her off to a place he had arranged for her reception, and where she would be kept secure at his pleasure.

In the struggle to preserve her daughter from the ruffians, Mrs. H— was so severely injured that, in conjunction with the shock caused by her daughter's abduction, she died in a few days after. Her last moments were tenderly watched by Mrs. Brad-ford and her widowed daughter-in-law, from whom young Bradford learned the particulars a short time after, he having succeeded in removing the remnants of a once happy family to relative's in Kentucky who had kindly offered them a home.

Wharton, after months spent in solicitations and threats to induce Emma—who was ignorant of her mother's death—to consent to become his bride, determined on still bolder measures. Having secured the old clergyman who had performed the funeral ceremony at the grave of the Bradfords, he one day, after a stormy interview with Emma, told the woman who had charge of her to prepare for a wedding that evening, as he would no longer put up with the girl's whims. He had been trifled with long enough, and he should now finish up the business, as he had a regular minister who would have to perform the service.

When night came a number of the partisans were grouped together in the main room of the house to witness the wedding of their leader ; the others, being encamped a short distance off, were regaling themselves with stolen whisky, which was liberally supplied them to celebrate the occasion. The clergyman had received his instructions. He was to proceed quickly with the ceremony, regardless of any interruption on the part of the bride, whom he was informed was a remarkably strange girl, who did not know her own mind from one day to another ; that her parents had consented to the marriage ; and that she had several times wanted it to take place. The penalty for refusing to obey orders would be a bullet through his skull.

Every thing being in readiness, Emma was brought into the room by the woman who had been her jailer. A few months had wrought t a great change in her appearance. She looked many years older. Her countenance had a haggard, care-worn look; but a firm compression of the lips, and a peculiar light in the eyes, evinced a firm, determined spirit that could not be coerced to comply with the wishes of a villain.

A sardonic smile played over the features of Wharton as he ordered the clergyman to proceed with the service.

The old man arose, and approaching the centre of the room, which was of considerable size, offered up a prayer that the Almighty might guide him that night. He then gazed hesitatingly at Emma, who stood near the woman, not knowing what to make of the strange scene. Wharton was close be-side her, and the long pause of the venerahle minister who had been so unfortunate as to fall into his power irritated him, and he turned scowling to-ward one of the desperadoes, who at once stepped forward and gave the minister a nudge, at the same moment placing a pistol-barrel against his cheek, and whispering a hissing sound in his ear.

This aroused the minister from his reverie, and he told Wharton to take the lady's hand. It required considerable effort on Wharton's part to do this; and Emma, looking intently at the clergy-man, exclaimed :

"In Heaven's name, old man, what mockery is this ?"

" Proceed !" shouted Wharton.

.   The clergyman tremblingly ,said : " Is there any

one who knows aught why these two should not be made man and wife ?"

" Release me, ruffian !" shrieked Emma, as with a desperate effort she withdrew her hand from Wharton's hold.

But resistance was in vain. She was soon seized again, and Wharton, foaming with rage, shouted, with a beastly oath,

" Go on, in a hurry!"

The clergyman repeated the question ; but this time he was answered by a sharp crack of a rifle, and the next instant he beheld Wharton reel, stagger forward, and fall to the floor with a bullet through his brain.

The desperado had uttered his last oath.

Several other shots followed in rapid succession, and the bodies of half a dozen of the gang were writhing in death-agonies upon the floor. The echoes of the guns had not died away before armed men sprang into the room through the windows and door.

Emma had swooned at the first shot, but she awoke to find herself among friends.

"Wa'al, I reckon thar ain't many of them thar gorrillers left to skin or hang, articles or no articles of war !" exclaimed private Jackson, about two hours after the above scene occurred, as a body of victorious troops were returning toward the Union lines.

" Where are our prisoners ?" said one of the soldiers, looking around.

"Yes, whar, oh! whar are they? Did you see any ?" ejaculated Jackson.

" That gang is pretty effectually wiped out," replied one of the Tennesseeans who had joined the command in the mountains. "I don't believe many made their escape from the camp, for we sprung the trap just in the nick of time, and the business of those at the wedding was finished nicely."

" Clean up !" said Jackson.

The whole party reached the Union lines in safety, and a few days after Bradford prevailed upon Emma to accept the escort of a friend who was on his way to Kentucky, and take up her abode with his mother for the present.

A few weeks after the battle of Missionary Ridge private Jackson, who, with several of his comrades, was en route for home on furlough, stopped at a hotel in Louisville, and, claiming the privilege of the first treat, said,

" Boys, here's to Major Bradford and his bride! May Old Abe appint him commander of the gorriller districts, and we be with him on all speshul sarvices !"


Do you think that we forget you, That our hearts to self are sealed, Seeking comfort, pleasure, riches,

While you waste in camp and field?

Do you think our greatest care is

That we win in party strife,
While the fever stills your pulses,

Or the death-wound drains your life?

When you marched to battle for us

And the sacred rights of man, Then we took the rearward places,

Unto you we gave the van.

In the future heard we voices,

Not pronouncing names we bear,

Saw you standing girt with glory, Saw ourselves in shadow there.

Heard your children say at evening,

"Years to-day our father fought!" While our children blush beside them

For the deeds we never wrought.

"Yes," you say, "you yielded to us

Honor's doubtful, empty breath, Dim and distant starry praises,

Far behind the clouds of death.

"Sweet it is to live, far sweeter

Than to lie beneath the sod;

Few the prayers for death that mortals Lift unto the ear of God."

But we have a son or brother

In the terrible wild fray,

And in death he writhes one moment, In love's anguish we for aye.

Nay, the blood mounts with the battle, Certain danger loses much

Of the horror of the unseen,

We fear little what we touch.

While we start erect in dreaming
With the spasm of the blow

That has killed him, he is laughing By the evening camp-fire's glow.

Thus our souls are with you, naked

In the perilous battle front,
While you fight in double armor

Of excitement and of wont.

Then by all the bonds that give us Each with each a common doom,

By the dark ways of your suffering, By our sympathetic gloom,

By our hopes to you intrusted, By your hopes of just return, By our different sacrifices

That on common altars burn,

Think not ill of us, 0 Soldier !

Thouga the death-stroke lay you low, While we do not seem to shiver

   At the echo of the blow.




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