General Isaac Ingalls Stevens was a very different sort of general than Gen. Hunter. He graduated first in his class from West Point and had an early career as an engineer. He also served for a time as a congressman. He was a small, dapper gentleman — popular with his men because he looked after their interests and cared about them as individuals. The general plays a part in several of my books because he was a “hands-on” general, always involved in what was happening around him. There is a lovely moment in A Scratch with the Rebels
when Stevens discovers Col. Leasure helping in the field hospital after the Battle of Secessionville and is moved to tears by his dedication.
His personal habits may have left something to be desired, however. He was much given to foul language. The Roundheads chaplain, Rev. Browne, hated him for his habit of cursing and using profanity at every small annoyance. He was also a hard drinker, leading to Col. Leasure’s complaints about his drunken orations and tendency to spray spittle as he delivered them. And Nellie Chase regarded him as an enemy because he was none too fond of women, with the exception of his own wife, on whom he doted.
Stevens died, as he lived, in the middle of the action. At the Battle of Chantilly, September 1, 1862, he had a horse who from under him. Quickly seizing another mount, he was dashing across the battlefield when he saw his flag bearer fall. He immediately grabbed the flag from the dying man’s hand — thus making himself a prime target — and was immediately shot, dead before he hit the ground.