Valdosta State University 



Call Number:        UA-2-1-3, Box 3, Folder 6


Name:                   In the Saddle with Stuart, (Reade Papers)         


Dates:                   bulk 1859-1866, 1866-1926, book published 1988        


Size:                      Published novel size: 15.3 x 22.9cm, Memoir 24.9 x 19.5cm


Background of Work: In the Saddle with Stuart: The Story of Frank Smith Robertson of Jeb Stuart’s Staff is a compilation work that spans the years of the Civil War.  Interestingly, Dr. Frank Reade, one of the early presidents of Valdosta State University, is the grandson of Frank Smith Robertson, from whom the bulk of the primary source information is taken to make up this book.  Memoirs, early manuscripts, and letters to and from Robertson were all compiled to make up this work.  Dr. L. Minor Blackford, of the University of Virginia, was the man who took Dr. Frank Reade’s unfinished manuscripts about his grandfather and compiled them into a book.  This edition is a revision with new editing done by Robert J. Trout.   


Dr. Blackford was able to have access to all these papers and memoirs because of the special relationship he had with Frank Robertson Read.  The Blackford and Robertson families had a close relationship in general.  One of the Blackfords married Frank Smith Robertson’s sister.  Another, William Blackford, served with Frank Robertson on James Ewell Brown Stuart’s staff.  Eugene Blackford was a close friend of this same Robertson from college.  Finally Lancelot Minor Blackford would hold a friendship with Frank Robertson for more than fifty years.  His son is the aforementioned Dr. L. Minor Blackford.


One of Robertson’s daughters, Marie, married Willoughby Reade and had a son, Frank Robertson Reade.  Blackford and Reade spent their childhood together.  Eventually Frank Reade would teach at Georgia Tech and then ascend to the presidency of Georgia State Women’s College, later to become known as Valdosta State University.  Reade also ran a women’s camp, Camp Glenrochie, from his family’s home, “The Meadows” in Virginia.  All of these responsibilities left him unable to complete his manuscript about his grandfather’s exploits.  Mrs. Reade willingly allowed Dr. Blackford to use her husband’s notes and letters concerning Frank Robertson upon Reade’s death so that he could complete his work.    



Descriptions and Comparisons of Items: Valdosta State University has a copy of  In the Saddle with Stuart.  Also, the VSU college archives has in its possession what can only be described as one of Frank Robertson’s original memoirs.  It reads like an early draft of the final book and bears striking similarities to that work.  On the first page of the memoir, there is a title saying, In the Saddle with Stuart by Frank S. Robertson  for Frank Robertson Reade.   One copy of  Robertson’s memoirs was provided by the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia to the editor of this book. However it is apparent that the Valdosta State University Archives has an original copy as well.  It is a fair summation that these memoirs were intended to become a book.


They are clearly titled and their format is remarkably close to that found in the completed novel.  One excerpt, among the many, from the memoir that VSU has could not have been accidentally duplicated and placed in the exact same position in both the memoir and completed novel reads as follows, “The State had furnished us with flintlocke muskets but no flints, cartridge boxes but no cartridges; we carried no overcoats, no blankets, no haversacks, no tin cups, - nothing indeed but ourselves…” The wording and surrounding literature is too similar to be a coincidence.  Also, whenever an excerpt correlates to the memoir in the Valdosta State Archival possessions it is introduced as either part of a memoir or Robertson’s papers in the published novel; and while the VSU memoir is incomplete, it does cover the same subjects as the published book and follows the exact same chronology throughout its pages.  Even two of the subheadings in the memoir and chapter titles in the book coincide exactly: Germanna Ford and Chancellorsville.


A final link between the book and VSU Archival papers on Frank Reade is Dr. Blackford’s mentioning of The Meadows. Blackford says that Reade wanted to write a book specifically concerning The Meadows.  VSU has an entire box of pictures from Dr. Reade’s life and that of his family at The Meadows.  It was the Robertson family’s ancestral home.  Also, this is where Reade spent his summers as a child and where the camp for girls was established.  


Summary of In the Saddle with Stuart: The published version of this book

chronicles the story of Frank Smith Robertson during the Civil War.  He is of importance

as a primary witness of conditions during the war.  Also, a great deal of focus is placed on his infamous commanding officer, Jeb Stuart.  Stuart proves himself a very unorthodox and somewhat prudish commander.  His overconfidence in his own abilities is only matched in history by that of General Custer at Bull Run.  Aside from being an excellent source detailing many of Jeb Stuart’s actions during the Civil War, the book adds a real face to the conflict in the person of Robertson.  It chronicles his attempts to join the fight as part of a college battalion.  The problems supplying the Confederate Army caused by the Union blockade are also mentioned; and an unexpected topic covered here is the incredible problem of maintaining adequate health Robertson experienced as a result of the often harmful medical advice he was given by Civil War era doctors.  There is an entire host of majors and other high ranking officers that Robertson encounters. In short, the Civil War is covered from Frank Robertson’s initial attempts to join the Army at the war’s onset, to his encounters with Jeb Stuart at Chancellorsville, to Stuart’s death, then Robertson’s continued battle until the end of the war, and finally what Robertson did to continue his life after the war.    



Subject Headings:


Civil War



Dr. L. Minor Blackford

Dr. Frank Robertson Reade

Frank Smith Robinson

Civil War Medicine


Germanna Ford

JEB Stuart

The Meadows

William H. F. Lee

In the Saddle with Stuart: The Story of Frank Smith Robertson of Jeb Stuart’s Staff

Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson

Frank S. Robertson Memoirs

Virginia Military Institute

Eugene Blackford

Yellow Tavern, battle of

William Blackford

Ulysses S. Grant

Kelley’s Ford


Twelfth Army Corps

Camp No Camp

The Wilderness

Civil War Cavalry

Wyndham Robertson

Robert E. Lee


Virginia Cavalry

North Carolina Cavalry

Brandy Station

Harper’s Ferry







Processing Date: Processed by Bryan A. Barber