Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

Appearance of Robert E. Lee

What was the famous “ride ’round McClellan”?

Colonel J. E. B. Stuart was only twenty-eight, but he had already come quite a way since he delivered a demand to John Brown to surrender (see page 42). Stuart had established himself as the most successful and flamboyant of all Confederate cavalrymen, partly through his richly eccentric clothing, which made him look rather like an English cavalier of the seventeenth century. When Lee asked Stuart for more specific intelligence concerning the enemy, Stuart asked permission to make a daring semicircular ride around the federal positions. Without giving an unqualified “yes,” Lee also did not say “no.” Stuart took that as his marching, or riding, order.


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