Three big birthdays yesterday: Chesty Puller (1898), Chuck Robb (1939), and little Philip St. George Cooke Stuart (1860), whose father was Jeb and whose grandfather was—you guessed it—Philip St. George Cooke. I know I’ve covered this territory before, but 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.
Which brings us to this day about a year later and 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 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 before, Stonewall Jackson was late again, but when he did finally join the fight, the battle turned in the Confederates’ favor.
That’s when PSGC 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 PSGC’s career. He didn’t get a lot of love for the decisions he made, but we remember him fondly here.
IMAGE: PSGC (Church of Latter Day Saints Archives)