This Day (Decisions Decisions Edition)

We failed to mention that yesterday was the birthday of little Philip St. George Cooke Stuart (1860), whose father was J. E. B. and whose grandfather was—you guessed it—Philip St. George Cooke. You’ll recall that the elder PSGC was a cavalry officer who did not answer the siren call of the Confederacy, a sin so unforgivable that the still-in-diapers PSGCS became instead JEBSJR, or James Ewell Brown Stuart Jr.
That was so 151 years ago, though. One hundred and fifty years ago today was the Battle of Gaines’s Mill. This was one of the Seven Days’ Battles in which George McClellan pretended to threaten Richmond but mostly just retreated in the face of Robert E. Lee‘s relentless, if not always successful, attacks. Many soldiers remember the battle as the most intense of the war, with A. P. “Lost His Girl to McClellan” Hill and Richard “Old Bald Head” Ewell charging up a steep hill and suffering horrific losses. Having run late the day beforeStonewall Jackson was late again, but when he did finally join the fight, the battle turned in the Confederates’ favor.
That’s when PSGC—remember him?—decided what the hell and just charged. The Confederates immediately shot down a quarter of his horsemen, and those who made it to the enemy lines were promptly bayoneted. (God only knows what happened to the horses.)
This was, for all intents and purposes, the end of Philip St. George Cooke’s career. He didn’t get a lot of love for the decisions he made, but we remember him fondly here.
A version of this post originally ran on June 27, 2011.
IMAGE: PSGC (Church of Latter Day Saints Archives)


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