THE VIRGINIA REELGeneral J.E.B. Stuart, Mrs. Flora Cooke Stuart, Lt. R. Channing Price,
General Fitzhugh Lee, Captain W. W. Blackford,
Major John Pelham, Captain James Breathed, Sam Sweeney
Christmas Eve 1862 - near Moss Neck Virginia
It was Christmas Eve of 1862. Rich golden sounds from a great tent echoed throughout the snowy covered hills of General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry camp. Banjo player Sam Sweeney and his musicians were entertaining General Stuart and his staff members along with Stuart's wife Flora, other wives, and sweethearts. It was a night to remember with merriment, dancing, delicacies to eat such as chicken, turkey, hams, sweet potatoes, butter, 30 dozen eggs, apple brandy (saved for the occasion), whiskey, and a great bowl of egg nog. Dancing the Virginia Reel was a highlight of the celebration.
However, General Robert E. Lee had given orders for a major raid by General Stuart's cavalry for the day after Christmas. As the band played on, only General Stuart and a select number of officers knew they would be in the saddle before long on another dangerous expedition. Not a word was said at the party about the impending raid. Stuart was happy and cheerful as he enjoyed his moments with Flora.
As dawn approached on the day after Christmas the bugler sounded the call for boots and saddles. Astounded to hear the orders, troopers had an hour to saddle, draw rations and pack ammunition. As the sun rose above the horizon 1800 horsemen were on the move and crossed Kelly's Ford. But thoughts of the season were still with the men, for it had been a holiday to remember.
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