Exemplifying Myth: J.E.B. Stuart and the Confederate Aristocracy
This paper is divided up into three areas of study. Chapter one is dedicated to a cursory overview to antebellum Southern culture, highlighting major themes such as militarism, hospitality, and chivalry. These cultural tenets inform on Southern values and social expectations. This opening section provides a lens through which the reader may understand the cultural climate into which James Ewel Brown Stuart was born in 1833. The next two chapters are dedicated to a brief sketch of Stuart’s early life, and then an examination of the impact of these themes, with special emphasis on his actions in the Civil War. Chapter two follows a narrative structure, covering Stuart’s life from his childhood in Patrick County, Virginia, his time at the U.S. Military Academy, his service on the frontier, marriage to Flora Cooke, and the outbreak of war between North and South. Chapter three transitions to a thematic approach and an analysis of Stuart’s actions and character during the war in relation to his adherence (or departure from) these Southern ideals. The final chapter is dedicated to an analysis of the subsequent literature pertaining to Stuart’s legacy and the growth of J.E.B. Stuart as a paragon of antebellum Southern culture.