James Ewell Brown Stuart
A clean-shaven J. E. B. Stuart appears in a daguerreotype made around the time of his graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1854. Stuart was teased by the other cadets about his supposed weak jaw, so after graduating he grew the large beard that became his trademark. An accomplished horseman, Stuart served in the United States cavalry along the western frontier. There he met his future wife, Flora Cooke, daughter of fellow Virginia cavalryman Philip St. George Cooke. For the most part Stuart's garrison duty was uneventful, although in 1857 he suffered a minor wound during a skirmish with the Cheyenne. After the Civil War broke out Stuart would become the most celebrated cavalry officer in the Confederacy.
Jesse Whitehurst, the Virginia-born daguerreotypist who took this image, opened a chain of photo studios beginning in the 1840s, and eventually had establishments in New York; Baltimore; Washington. D.C.; Wilmington, North Carolina, as well as locations in Richmond, Norfolk, Petersburg, and Lynchburg, Virginia. (It is not known which studio Stuart went to for this daguerreotype.) Whitehurst was one of the leading photographic entrepreneurs of his day, and, by 1850, he boasted that he employed twenty-one assistants and that his photo galleries "were taking at the rate of 20,000 Likenesses annually." Though a savvy promoter (one of his ads pitched his "Splendid Sky-light Electro Daguerreotypes"), his business declined by late in the 1850s. He eventually gave up photography altogether, and turned his attention to harvesting manure from sea birds to be used as fertilizer. In his 1875 obituary, a Norfolk newspaper reported that not long before his death, Whitehurst had "located several (before undiscovered) rich guano islands in the Caribbean Sea, after years of intense and severe examination."