Eagle C Cavalry Button from the Frock Coat of JEB Stuart
Eagle C Cavalry Button from the Frock Coat of JEB Stuart – Perry Adams Antiques obtained this historically significant button directly from the lineal ancestors of General Stuart. We will provide a notarized, signed document, from the descendants, affirming that this button was worn on a pre-Civil War frock by JEB Stuart. The typical Eagle C, U.S. Army cavalry button is a coat size button, in pristine condition, displaying a beautiful and appealing, rich gold hue; during some time in the latter third of the 19th century, the button’s shank was removed and latch type pin was applied to the back, so that the button could be worn as a brooch.
After JEB Stuart graduated from West Point, in 1854, he was commissioned a second lieutenant, assigned to a U.S. Mounted Rifleman company, in Texas. He reached Ft. Davis, in January of 1855, where, during his three month stay, he led scouting missions over the San Antonio to El Paso Road. Shortly thereafter, Stuart was transferred to the newly formedat 1rst Cavalry Regiment, at Ft. Leavenworth, then in the Kansas Territory; at Leavenworth, he became regimental quartermaster and commissary officer and was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.
During his posting in Kansas, Stuart participated in several conflicts with Native Americans and attempts to quell the antebellum, slavery related violence in Kansas. On July 29, 1857, he was wounded while fighting the Cheyenne on the Solomon River (in Kansas).
In 1859, Stuart developed a new piece of cavalry equipment, for which he received a patent; while in Washington to discuss government contracts, and in conjunction with his application for an appointment into the quartermaster department, Stuart became aware of John Brown’s raid on the U.S. Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. He immediately volunteered to become aide-de-camp to then Col. Robert E. Lee. Stuart accompanied Lee, along with a company of U.S. Marines and four companies of Maryland militia, to Harper’s Ferry, to quell Brown’s attempts at fomenting a slave insurrenction. Stuart, at the behest of Col. Lee, delivered a written surrender ultimatum to the leader of the group, who had been calling himself Isaac Smith. Recalling his days in Kansas, Stuart immediately recognized “Old Osawatomie Brown”.
In April of 1861, Stuart was promoted to the rank of Captain, but shortly thereafter, following the secession of Virginia, resigned from the U.S. Army on May 3, 1861, to join the Confederate Army.
This button, given that Stuart was an officer in the six years prior to the commencement of hostilities in 1861, was most likely worn by him, on his U.S. Cavalry frock coat, during his service in Kansas, or conceivably, when he accompanied Col. R.E. Lee, in 1859, during the John Brown raid. The back mark of “R. & W. Robinson Extra Rich” indicates that the button was manufactured no later than 1848, when the Robinson company was taken over by D. Evans.
According to the descendants of Stuart, from whom Perry Adams obtained the button, Stuart’s mother, Elizabeth Letcher Pannill Stuart, was the first recipient of the button. It is probable that she received the button directly from Stuart, as she was most actively supportive of his U.S. Army career, prior to the Civil War. Her ardent support of his career can be duly noted in a letter, donated by the Stuart descendants, in 1983, to the then Virginia Historical Society. Mrs. Stuart, writing from Richmond, in February of 1860, to Stuart’s former commanding officer at Ft. Wise, requests from the U.S. Army, the military reports of Gen. Winfield Scott regarding Stuart’s service in the West, during the year 1860; she also seeks the reports of Col. R.E. Lee, regarding Stuart’s participation in the 1859 Harper’s Ferry engagement. She states in this most interesting of letters, that she seeks these reports “… for the gratification of the feelings of Lieutenant Stuart’s own family. An early reply is respectfully requested.”
Stuart’s descendants, indicated that the second owner of the button was William Alexander Stuart (1826-1892), son of Archibald Stuart and Elizabeth Pannill Stuart of Laurel Hill in Patrick County, Virginia and brother of James Ewell Brown Stuart. William Stuart was a lawyer and businessman and was admitted as a deputy clerk of the Circuit Superior Court of law and chancery in Wytheville. He eventually served as the clerk in 1847 and also worked as a bank cashier. Stuart also owned several businesses including, with partner George W. Palmer, the Preston and King Salt Works in Saltville, Virginia and the Stuart Land and Cattle Company. He also operated a dry goods store with W. C. Auman named Stuart and Auman. During the war, Flora Cooke Stuart, JEB Stuart’s wife, and her three children, lived at William Stuart’s house, in Saltville.
After William Stuart, his daughter, Susan Stuart Campbell, became the next recipient of this button. The button has remained in the Campbell family during the ensuing years.