J.E.B. Stuart Commands 2nd Corps

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Nov 8, 2018
After the mortal wounding of Stonewall Jackson on the 2nd of May, midway through the Battle of Chancellorsville, Lee decided to give command of his corps to J.E.B. Stuart. He apparently did well on May 3rd, but was soon reverted back to the Cavalry Division and the Corps was split and given Ewell and A. P. Hill as commanders.
What if Lee had kept Stuart in command of the 2nd Corps? Would he have done better as an infantry commander?
I believe so. Commanding Infantry meant that Stuart could not perform his encircling raids he was so fond of, which arguably was what lost Lee the Battle of Gettysburg. If Hampton were given command of the cavalry, a less cavalier-minded officer, I doubt he'd pull the same stunt. And I presume he'd be more aggressive than Ewell if given the "if practicable" order.
Then again, I am not that well read on the AoNV at Chancellorsville, or Stuart specifically for that matter.

nc native

Aug 30, 2011
NC Piedmont
Stuart did do a fine job in temporary command of 2nd Corps in the Army of Northern Virginia during the battle of Chancellorsville. I could not see him as a long term infantry commander under the watchful eye of Robert E. Lee however. His personality was one that was suited more for independent action and being in the saddle away from the Army of Northern Virginia suited him best. I think Stuart was too restless and he wanted to maintain the cavalier image he had perpetuated so a infantry command where he would be on a leash, so to speak, would have driven him insane. Stuart had too much dash and flash to be stuck in long term command of a infantry corps without going stir crazy.


Jul 28, 2015
New York City
I too, do not see Stuart in a primary role as infantry commander. He was assigned as II Corps commander after Jackson's wounding and the wounding of A.P. Hill, who was nominally 2nd in line for command. Nevertheless Stuart's assault on May 3rd after Jackson's flanking attack was played out, succeeded in diminishing the Union salient at Hazel Grove, and took fully advantage of that location as an artillery platform after the federal withdrawal. But over all, Stuart, despite his flaws as a cavalry commander, was almost made for the role of the flamboyant cavalier. His daring raids did much to raise morale in the south, and solidify the superiority of southern cavalry, at least until the north managed to catch up in that area.


Retired User
Jan 23, 2010
State of Jefferson
I'm not sure if Stuart would have done consistently well as a corps commander, but he did want the job. He was as ambitious as anybody! However, Lee needed him right where he was. Stuart probably knew it himself - it's said that he deliberately got lower grades at West Point so that he'd be recommended for the cavalry. Sure didn't want to be an engineer!

One thing about Chancellorsville, though - it was a good thing command sifted down to Stuart. He was the one person close enough to Jackson to pretty much know what he was doing. The others would have had to take a good guess!


Oct 20, 2016
I think he may have surprised everyone if he was left as an infantry commander permanently after Chancellorsville. As well as he did as a horse soldier, from what I have read about him was his huge determination and drive to do his duty as a soldier. He had a keen eye for placing artillery and used his big guns very effectively. I believe had Lee given him command of 2nd Corps he would have understood that Lee had confidence in his abilities and would have done a great job. He would have considered it his destiny and embraced the new job. Hampton was certainly good enough to take over the cavalry in his place. This is a very interesting "what if" and one that I had never really considered before.


Aug 4, 2011
We see a lot of concern expressed about the ANV's corps commanders at Gettysburg and after, so it doesn't seem unreasonable to consider alternatives, even unconventional ones.

As for the cavalry division/corps, Hampton was certainly a capable commander, but might it be an issue that he was from South Carolina when most of the cavalry (and brigade commanders) were Virginian?