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Cal Sweeney, Stuarts Troubador

Sampson “Sam” Sweeney was the younger brother of Joe “Joel” Walker Sweeney, who was a famous minstrel entertainer, and reputedly the first white man to perform with the banjo, an instrument that prior had only been played by enslaved Africans.  The banjo is a five string instrument with a unique sound that it is said to be the only musical instrument developed in the United States.  Sam Sweeney, a member of H Company, 2d Virginia Cavalry, became JEB Stuart’s personal musician.  Sam died 13 January 1864 of smallpox.  Sweeney was part of Stuart’s musical group including Mulatto Bob on the bones and a couple of fiddlers. One of the high spots was JEB’s favorite tune Jine the cavalry, which Stuart may have written himself.  Stuart’s musicians rode with him and provided countless hour of entertainment for the general and his cavalry.

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