Rare Gold Medal Awarded to the Daughter of Confederate General JEB Stuart by the Stuart Horse Guard
Rare Gold Medal Awarded to the Daughter of Confederate General JEB Stuart by the Stuart Horse Guard - Virginia Pelham Stuart was born October 9, 1863, in Lynchburg, to J.E.B. and Flora Cooke Stuart. In 1887, Virginia Stuart married Robert Page Waller of Norfolk, Virginia. She died on September 9, 1898, from complications of childbirth.
She was awarded this medal or badge after being elected a patroness of the Stuart Horse Guard, on April 28th, 1885. The Stuart Horse Guard originated as an active element of the Virginia militia system, reorganized in the 1870′s. In the 1880′s the SHG became part of the 3rd Regiment, Virginia Militia; during WWI and WW2, they were part of the National Guard units that were affiliated with the 29th Infantry Division. It appears that at the onset of their organization, they were essentially show or social entity units. The SHG would ultimately become Troop A, First Battalion Cavalry under the 3rd Regiment of Virginia Militia, from Richmond. Otway S. Allen became its Major on April 15, 1886. Other companies of this Battalion were the Surry Cavalry (Troop B), Lynchburg’s Fitz Lee Troop (C), and the Hanover Troop (D). By the late 1890s, many of these Virginia militia units participated, as engaged combatants, in the Spanish American War, as well as in U.S. military engagements of the 20th Century, including WWI and WWII. In 1885, when this medal was awarded, membership was primarily comprised of the coming of age children of Confederate veterans; the SHG was composed of the more “elite class” of veterans and children, primarily from the Richmond area.
The medal or badge bears the inscription: “To Miss Virginia Pelham Stuart by the Stuart Horse Guards of Richmond, Va.” A letter, now in the J.E.B. Stuart Collection of the Virginia Museum of History and Culture Society, reads as follows:
Headquarters Stuart Horse Guards
Richmond, Va., April 28th, 1885
Miss Virginia Pelham Stuart
It is my duty and pleasure, Miss, to communicate to you that at a meeting of the members of this Troop held the 25th of February last, you were unanimously elected “The Lady Patroness of the Stuart Horse Guards,” and to beg your acceptance of the position. Flattering ourselves, perhaps, that you would not decline such association with us, and wishing too to commemorate the distinguished occasion when a Flag of Virginia passed through your hands and became our Standard, we have designed a Badge to be presented to you with this, and pray that you may find occasions when it will not be an unworthy personal “Decoration.”
I have the honor to be,
Otway S. Allen
Constructed entirely of gold, this unique and historically significant badge exhibits finely executed workmanship depicting crossed sabers superimposed on an oval laurel wreath; suspended beneath the sabers, by two miniature, gold, buckled straps, is a disc that bears a flag with a yellow trimmed, blue enameled field bearing the manuscript initials “S.H.G.” (Stuart Horse Guard); the flag “waves” on a white enameled staff, featuring a mine cut diamond, within the staff’s finial. The flag is encircled by thirteen impressed stars; the inscription side of the disk is edged with two rows of small, raised dots and twelve, evenly spaced, raised triangles. The inscription to Virginia Stuart, appears on the reverse of the disc, as well as an apparent jeweler’s touch mark on the reverse side of the sabers. The mode of attachment is a so-called “T-pin” and simple, hooked clasp, affixed to the back of the two sabers. The medal measures as follows: Diameter of disc: 1 1/16” ; Width across of sabers: 1 1/8” ; Total length of medal: 1 7/8” .
We believe that the medal passed into the possession of Virginia’s eldest daughter, Flora Stuart Waller (Mrs. Jonathan Whitehead Old, 1892 – 1984), and then to Jonathan Whitehead Old, Jr. of Greenwich, Connecticut. The medal would pass out of the possession of J.E.B. Stuart’s descendants, some time in the early 1990s.