Historical records matching Colonel John "The Gray Ghost" Mosby (CSA)
About John Singleton Mosby, Col
Biography John Singleton Mosby
John Singleton Mosby (1833–1916) .
Title: Colonel John Singleton Mosby Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Photographs Division [cwpbh.03240] More information John Singleton Mosby was a Confederatecolonel during the American Civil War(1861–1865). As a private in the 1st Virginia Cavalry, Mosby chose his commander, General J. E. B. Stuart, as his role model and mentor. Stuart and GeneralRobert E. Lee came to value Mosby's skills as a scout and raider. In June 1863 Confederate secretary of war James A. Seddon permitted Mosby to form and recruit soldiers for Company A, 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry (Partisan Rangers). The battalion expanded steadily to the size of a regiment (approximately 1,900 men served in the command during its existence) and Mosby was accordingly promoted to colonel. The raids of "Mosby's Men" helped to demoralize Union cavalry and rally Southern support for the war. Wounded seven times, the combative Mosby disbanded his troops, rather than surrender, on April 21, 1865. After the war he resumed his career as a lawyer and turnedRepublican. Mosby served as U.S. consul to Hong Kong, and from 1904 until 1910 worked as assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department. An excellent writer, Mosby devoted his latter years to letters, articles, and books defending the actions and reputation of his own command, the reputations of J. E. B. Stuart and Ulysses S. Grant, and arguing that slavery was the main cause of the war. Mosby died in Washington, D.C., in 1916..
Title: John Singleton Mosby Source: University of Virginia Special Collections, University of Virginia Visual History Collection More information Mosby was born on December 6, 1833, in Powhatan County, Virginia, the second of eleven children. His parents were Virginia McLaurine and Alfred D. Mosby. A frail child who preferred Greek literature to sports, Mosby was bullied but always fought back and, by his own admission, always lost. In 1850, at age sixteen, Mosby entered the University of Virginia, excelling at English, the classics, and debate. He was an accomplished, if reckless, horseman. Although he claimed self-defense, at nineteen he was convicted of the nonfatal shooting of a medical student, George Turpin, and was expelled from college. (A man with a bad reputation, Turpin survived.) Mosby was sentenced to a year in jail and, deciding that justice had not served him well, he began reading law while incarcerated. His prosecutor, William Robertson, helped tutor him in law. Governor Joseph Johnson pardoned Mosby on December 23, 1853..
Mosby practiced law in Albemarle County from 1855 until 1858. On December 30, 1856, he married Pauline Clarke, the daughter of a prominent Kentucky lawyer and a woman as spirited and intelligent as her husband. By the time of the presidential election of 1860 Mosby and his young family were living in Bristol, Virginia. Mosby disliked the idea of secession and voted for the Unionist Democratic candidate, Stephen A. Douglas. Months earlier, Mosby had joined the Washington Mounted Rifles with the Union in mind. With the secession of Virginia in April 1861, however, the Rifles were called into Confederate service. Private Mosby looked to his company commander, West Pointer William E. "Grumble" Jones, for leadership and military insight. Once the Rifles were in Richmond and incorporated into the 1st Virginia Cavalry, Mosby found his new, permanent hero: J. E. B. Stuart..
Title: Mosby's Dagger with Leather Sheath Source: The Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, Photography by Katherine Wetzel More information At five feet eight inches tall, and weighing around 130 pounds, the slight Mosby and the hearty Stuart were physical opposites. They were, however, similar in their habits and outlook: both teetotalers, both innovative thinkers, both indefatigable. Mosby volunteered his services at Stuart's call for scouts; his intelligence on the disposition of Union troops aided Stuart's famed "Ride Around McClellan" in June 1862. By the winter of 1862–1863, Mosby and a few men, using Middleburg as a base, began harassing Union pickets. In a spectacular coup, Mosby captured Union Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton at Fairfax Court House on March 9, 1863. The stunt created a sensation in the national press and added to Mosby's image as a "Gray Ghost," attacking out of the mists. (He later denied that the accused spy Antonia Ford had helped him in the raid.).
Mosby argued that guerrilla warfare could contribute to the defensive efforts of the Confederate army, but Stuart and Lee felt that partisan ranger units (authorized by the Confederate Congress in 1862) had, by their own actions, fallen into disrepute. What Mosby envisioned was a unit free to come and go, a unit based on knowledge of its territory, and a generous spoils system. Confederate secretary of war James Seddon agreed with Mosby, and on June 10, 1863, approved a new command under Major Mosby: Company A, 43rd Battalion Partisan Rangers..
Mosby and his men boarded in homes of local residents throughout Loudoun and Fauquier counties. "Mosby's Confederacy," as the area and citizenry were known, made it possible for Mosby to wage successful guerrilla warfare. Ranger Alexander Hunter later observed that Mosby was not beloved by his men, but was instead feared and revered as "a force of nature.".
Title: One of "Mosby's Men" Source: Library of Congress More information Mosby regarded traditional military order as impractical to his purposes. Having lost an adjutancy to politicking early in the war, Mosby appointed his officers. He never partook of the spoils himself, but the concept was popular, especially with young recruits. The constant threat of a Mosby attack on Union pickets and supply lines made the command a thorn in the sides of successive Union commanders. Many historians now believe that Mosby's greatest contribution to the war was as a mythical, psychological presence in battleground Virginia..
Shortly after the formation of the unit, the rangers proved their worth as scouts and couriers. On June 17, 1863, Robert E. Lee began to move his army north into Pennsylvania, using Stuart's cavalry to screen his right flank. Upon discovering that Union general Joseph Hooker's army was headed to Fairfax and Loudoun counties, Mosby infiltrated the Union camp near Aldie, capturing two of Hooker's staff officers. Also captured was a crucial letter, indicating that Hooker had no notion of Lee's plans and no intention of crossing the Potomac River. Thus far, Stuart's screen was working..
Lee had not been specific about which route he wished Stuart to take to Gettysburg, and after scouting from June 16 to June 24, Mosby recommended that Stuart pass between Hooker's corps and head to the still-passable Seneca Ford. When, on June 25, Mosby heard artillery fire as Hooker headed toward the Potomac River, he assumed that Stuart would simply turn around to avoid any unnecessary action or delay. Unknown to Mosby, Stuart forged on, resulting in his delayed arrival at Gettysburg. (After the war Mosby was incensed by criticism of Stuart's judgment and, by implication, his own advice.) Mosby dispersed his own men, and did not gather them again until June 28, when he led a successful raid on Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and returned to Virginia..
Title: Berryville Wagon Raid Source: The Museum of the Confederacy Richmond, Virginia Photography by Katherine Wetzel More information Mosby added to his reputation as a raider in August 1864, after Confederate general Jubal A. Early withdrew before Union general Philip H. Sheridan, up theValley of Virginia. In following Early fromWinchester to Cedar Creek, Sheridan allowed his wagons to stretch out in a vulnerable line. In the Berryville Wagon Raid of August 13, 1864, Mosby's rangers captured 200 men, burned or looted around forty wagons, and acquired 420 mules, 200 cattle, and 36 horses. Union general George A. Custer burned five civilian houses in reprisal. Then, on September 23, 1864, while Mosby was away nursing battle wounds, Union general Alfred A. Torbert ordered the execution of six captured Mosby men..
Mosby was convinced that Custer was behind the act. With the death of his mentor J. E. B. Stuart after the Battle of Yellow Tavern in May 1864, Mosby was left to make the case for his actions directly with Robert E. Lee, and asked permission to deal likewise with the enemy. Lee gave his permission, and in November Mosby had seven prisoners-of-war executed. On December 21, 1864, Mosby was ambushed near Rectortown by Union cavalry, who had no idea of his identity. Though Mosby was seriously wounded in the stomach, the injury was incorrectly reported as fatal in theNew York Herald, much to Sheridan's delight..
Title: Ammunition for "Mosby's Men" Source: The Museum of the Confederacy, photography by Alan Thompson More information Returning to command in February 1865, Mosby and his unit operated for a while in eastern Virginia. Shifting back to "Mosby's Confederacy," he chose to disband his troops on April 21, 1865, in Fauquier County, rather than surrender. Because he was excluded from the parole offered the Army of Northern Virginia, Mosby had been negotiating with Union general Winfield Scott Hancock when Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton ordered the negotiations canceled. But Grant had the orders rescinded, and on June 17, Mosby received his parole at Lynchburg. He resumed his law practice in Warrenton in September 1865..
The war's end left Mosby bereft of purpose. Yet, at thirty-two, his health was good, despite his seven wounds and the rigors of partisan campaigning. His zeal for justice was undiminished. While deploring Reconstruction rule, Mosby took a typically practical view of the need for the South to reconcile with the North. In May 1872 he visited President Grant at the White House, urging him to restore rights to former Confederates. Mosby agreed to personally endorse Grant, although not the Republican Party. Both men honored the terms of the visit.
Title: Mosby's War Reminiscences Source: The Museum of the Confederacy More information In the summer of 1876, after the birth of her eighth child, Pauline Mosby died, leaving six children and a crushed forty-three-year-old widower. Mosby never remarried. That same year he officially turned Republican, and in the years that followed he accepted a series of government posts..
From 1878 until 1885 Mosby served as U.S. consul in Hong Kong. There he found the sort of rampant corruption that was commonplace in the foreign service. Mosby's attempts at reform proved a headache to successive Republican administrations. Returning to the states in 1885, Mosby lived in San Francisco and worked as a lawyer for Southern Pacific Railroad; one of Grant's last acts before his death was to secure this position for his old friend. Mosby took to lecturing in New England, and wrote Mosby's War Reminiscences and Stuart's Cavalry Campaigns (1887). He attended only one reunion of his Rangers, in Alexandria, Virginia, in January 1895, preferring to look forward not back—unless he could right the wrongs of history..
Predictably, Mosby rejected the prevailing sentiments of his fellow veterans and theirLost Cause arguments. He railed against those who blamed Stuart or James Longstreet for the failures of Gettysburg, thus pitting himself against the likes of Charles Marshall and Jubal Early. Mosby also devised his own tortured theory that the battle was doomed by the actions of generals Henry Heth and A. P. Hill, a theory dismissed by historians. In the end, the contents of Lee's letterbook appear to vindicate Mosby's belief that Lee had adequate information prior to Stuart's arrival at Gettysburg; the results were the consequence of Lee's judgments..
Although he himself had kept a slave throughout the conflict, Mosby was adamant that slavery was not incidental to the war. In a letter of 1894 he insisted, "I always understood that we went to War on account of the thing we quarreled with the North about. I never heard of any other cause of quarrel than slavery."
Title: 1894 Letter from John Mosby Source: The Museum of the Confederacy More information As late as 1902 he mused, "in retrospect slavery seems such a monstrous thing that some are now trying to prove that slavery was not the cause of the war." Mosby thought this was humbug. He was unrepentant in his admiration of Grant, or for turning Republican, writing the year before his death that "my animosity toward the North has long passed away.".
Vigorous and opinionated, Mosby kept up a stream of private correspondence, as well as letters and articles to newspapers. In April 1897 a carriage accident cost him his left eye, but slowed him not a bit. In April 1898, at sixty-four, Mosby offered to raise a battalion or regiment for the war in Cuba, but was turned down. When Mosby lost his California job in 1901, President William McKinley made him special agent in the General Land Office in the U.S. Interior Department, where he actively enforced federal fencing laws in the Midwest. President Theodore Roosevelt sent him to Alabama to watch for trespassers on government land. Finally at seventy, via his friend, the publisher Joseph Bryan, and his brother-in-law, Charlie Russell, Mosby found work as assistant attorney general in the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. While there Mosby finished his Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign (1908). Deaths of students resulting from football injuries at the University of Virginia prompted him in 1909 to write authorities at his old school, protesting that football was "murder." He offered his services in World War I (1914–1918) to King George V of England, and took a dim view of President Woodrow Wilson..
Title: "Colonel John S. Mosby and Some of His Men" Source: University of Virginia Special Collections More information In January 1915 Mosby received a medal and a written tribute from the University of Virginia, which touched him deeply. To the end he remained loyal to those he believed were fair-minded, such as Stuart and Grant. He refused to cater to Southern sympathies and admitted of himself that there was "no man in the Confederate Army who had less of the spirit of knight-errantry in him, or took a more practical view of war than I did." He died in a Washington, D.C., hospital on May 30, 1916, aware to the end that it was Memorial Day. He was buried in Warrenton Cemetery on June 1, 1916, a steely-eyed warrior from the age of romance..
•Mosby's War Reminiscences and Stuart's Cavalry Campaigns (1887)
•Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign (1908)
•The Memoirs of John Singleton Mosby (incomplete; published posthumously, 1917)
December 6, 1833 - John Singleton Mosby is born at his grandfather's house in Powhatan County, Virginia, the second of eleven children of Virginia and Alfred Mosby.
1850 - John Singleton Mosby enrolls at the University of Virginia at age sixteen.
1852 - John Singleton Mosby shoots a medical student, George Turpin, after an argument. Although he claims self-defense, Mosby is expelled from the University of Virginia and sentenced to one year in the local jail for unlawful shooting.
December 23, 1853 - Virginia governor Joseph Johnson pardons John Singleton Mosby, who has served a year in jail for shooting a man. Mosby is later reimbursed for his court-imposed fine.
1855-1858 - After reading the law while in jail, under the tutelage of his prosecutor, John Singleton Mosby practices law in Albemarle County.
December 30, 1856 - John Singleton Mosby marries Pauline Clarke, the daughter of a prominent Kentucky lawyer.
1861 - After signing up to serve in the state militia, John Singleton Mosby is persuaded by friends to join the Washington Mounted Rifles, commanded by William E. "Grumble" Jones. The unit reports to Richmond in June and is assigned to the 1st Virginia Cavalry under J. E. B. Stuart.
February 13–April 23, 1862 - John Singleton Mosby serves as adjutant of the 1st Virginia Cavalry. In April, Fitzhugh Lee replaces William E. Jones as company commander and accepts Mosby's resignation.
April 1862 - Confederate general J. E. B. Stuart appoints John Singleton Mosby, now ranked as private, as a staff courier and scout.
March 1863 - John Singleton Mosby is promoted to major.
June 10, 1863 - Confederate secretary of war James Seddon permits John Singleton Mosby to form and recruit for Company A, 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry (Partisan Rangers). This permission comes despite the preference of J. E. B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee that Mosby's new command stay within the regular cavalry.
August 13, 1864 - John Singleton Mosby and his Rangers capture 200 men and some forty wagons from Union general Philip Sheridan's supply train. The Berryville Wagon Raid hurts Sheridan's pride, and provides both real goods and a morale boost to the Confederate command.
November 1864 - After his successful Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Union general Philip H. Sheridan turns against John S. Mosby's partisan rangers. His troops burn thousands of haystacks and hundreds of buildings, seize horses and cattle, and confiscate crops.
December 21, 1864 - John Singleton Mosby is critically wounded in a Union cavalry ambush near Rectortown after returning from a Ranger wedding. Mosby is whisked away to a doctor and safety before Union troopers discover his identity. He is reported dead by the Union and Confederate press, to the glee of Union general Philip H. Sheridan.
January 1865 - John Singleton Mosby is promoted to colonel, retroactive to December 1864.
January 30, 1865 - John Singleton Mosby is honored in Richmond with a resolution of thanks adopted by the Confederate Congress and a reception hosted by the Virginia General Assembly.
February 1865 - Recovered from his last wounding, John Singleton Mosby returns to his command.
April 21, 1865 - Virginia's most famous partisan ranger, John S. Mosby, "disbands" his Confederates several weeks after Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He refuses to use the word "surrender."
June 17, 1865 - John Singleton Mosby is paroled at Lynchburg.
September 1865 - John Singleton Mosby resumes his law practice in Warrenton.
May 10, 1876 - Pauline Clarke Mosby, wife of John Singleton Mosby, dies at age thirty-nine.
1878–1885 - Appointed U.S. consul to Hong Kong by president Rutherford B. Hayes, John Singleton Mosby serves until July 1885, when president Grover Cleveland replaces him with another appointee.
1885–1901 - John Singleton Mosby works in San Francisco as an attorney for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
1887 - John Singleton Mosby's War Reminiscences and Stuart's Cavalry Campaigns is published.
January 16, 1895 - John Singleton Mosby attends his first and last Ranger reunion in Alexandria.
April 23, 1897 - John Singleton Mosby loses his left eye and fractures his skull in a carriage accident in Charlottesville.
1901 - President William McKinley appoints John Singleton Mosby to work in the Department of the Interior's General Land Office, where he is charged with enforcing federal fencing laws in the Midwest.
April 1903 - President Theodore Roosevelt assigns John Singleton Mosby to the Land Office in Montgomery, Alabama, where he is assigned to guard government land from trespassers and poachers.
1904–1910 - John Singleton Mosby serves as an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C. He retires at age seventy-six.
1908 - John Singleton Mosby completes Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign.
January 1915 - The University of Virginia honors John Singleton Mosby with a written tribute and a medal.
May 30, 1916 - John Singleton Mosby dies at age eighty-three in a Washington, D.C., hospital.
June 1, 1916 - John Singleton Mosby is buried in Warrenton Cemetery in Warrenton.
1957–1958 - John Singleton Mosby is the subject of a CBS television series,The Gray Ghost. Protests against the series’ insensitive subject matter (in the wake of the controversial school enrollment of the so-called Little Rock Nine and other Civil Rights issues) resulted in its cancellation.
1992 - John Singleton Mosby is among the first inductees into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame.
John Singleton Mosby
was born in Powhatan county, Virginia, December 6, 1833, son of Alfred D. and Virginia I. (McLaurine) Mosby, and grandson of Catharine (Steger) Mosby and of Jane (Ware) McLaurine. He prepared for college in Charlottesville and graduated at the University of Virginia with honors in Greek, June 29, 1852. He studied law and practiced in Bristol, Washington county. He was married, December 30, 1856, to Pauline Clarke, of Kentucky, and they had six children. In 1861 he enlisted in a company recruited by William E. Jones, for the First Virginia Cavalry, of which he became adjutant. Later, he was a scout at Gen. J. E. B. Stuart's headquarters, and guided Stuart's command to the rear of McClellan's army on the Chickahominy, June 14, 1862. In January, 1863, he recruited a force of cavalry in northern Virginia with which, aided by friendly citizens of Fauquier and Loudoun counties, he harassed the Federals, cut communications and destroyed supply trains. When not on active duty his men scattered for safety, with the understanding that they were to assemble at a given time and place. This system of warfare exasperated the Federal commanders who tried to capture the partisan leader, and this failing, the searching party destroyed the crops and farmhouses belonging to the citizens thought to have harbored or abetted Mosby or his men. At Chantilly, March 16, 1863. he routed a superior Federal cavalry force, and at Dranesville, April 1, 1863, defeated a detachment of cavalry sent to capture him. During the battle of Chancellorsville he surprised a body of Federal cavalry at Warrenton Junction, but was obliged to retreat before overpowering numbers, which he did without loss to his command. He then procured a howitzer and passed in the rear of Gen. Hooker's army; wrecked a railroad train laden with supplies; inflicted severe damage on the troop guarding the train, and finally cut his way through and escaped. He captured a transport near Aquia creek in May, 1864, while Grant was engaged in the Wilderness and the Federal commander was obliged to detach a cavalry force to protect his communications. With twenty-nine men he marched into Fairfax Court House on the night of March 7, 1863, captured Gen. E. H. Stoughton at his headquarters with a number of his staff, and delivered them as prisoners to Gen. J. E. B. Stuart. His command was known as the Forty-third Batallion, Virginia Cavalry, and he was commissioned successively captain, majof, lieutenant-colonel and colonel, C. S. A. After the close of the war he engaged in the practice of law at Warrenton, Virginia. In 1876 he made public through a letter to the "New York Herald" his intention to support the candidacy of Rutherford B. Hayes for the presidency, and in this letter first applied the phrase the "Solid South." President Hayes appointed him United States consul to Hong Kong, China, in 1878, and he retained the office until 1885. Returning to the United States he began the practice of law in San Francisco, California, and became counsel for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. On September 23, 1899, a granite monument, twenty-five feet high, was unveiled at Front Royal, Virginia, by "Mosby's men," in memory of the seven comrades executed near the spot, September 23, 1864, while prisoners of war in the hands of the Federal army. In July, 1901, he was appointed special agent of the general land office, with headquarters at Sterling, Colorado. He is the author of "A Bit of Partisan Service" and "The Confederate Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign" in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War" (Vol. III, pages 148 and 251), and of "Mosby's War Reminiscences and Stuart's Cavalry Campaign" (1887). See "Partisan Life with Mosby" by John Scott, (1867); "Mosby and His Men" by J. M. Crawford, (1867), and "Mosby's Rangers," by J. J. Williamson (1895).
Source: Virginia Biographical Encyclopedia
U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 about John Singleton Mosby
Name: John Singleton Mosby
Residence: Abingdon, Virginia
Age at enlistment: 27
Enlistment Date: 14 May 1861
Rank at enlistment: Private
Enlistment Place: Abingdon, Virginia
State Served: Virginia
Survived the War?: Yes
Service Record: Enlisted in Company D, Virginia 1st Cavalry Regiment on 14 May 1861.Promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 17 Feb 1862.Promoted to Full 1st Lieutenant on 02 Apr 1862.Mustered out on 06 May 1862.Commissioned an officer in on 06 May 1862.Promoted to Full Captain on 15 Mar 1863.Promoted to Full Major on 26 Mar 1863.Promoted to Full Lt Col on 21 Jan 1864.Mustered out on 21 Jan 1864.Commissioned an officer in Company S, Virginia 43rd Cavalry Battalion on 21 Jan 1864.Mustered out on 21 Apr 1865.Promoted to Full Colonel on 07 Dec 1865.
Birth Date: 6 Dec 1833
Death Date: 30 May 1916
Sources: The Virginia Regimental Histories SeriesOfficial Records of the War of Rebellion
Mosby Famous Raid
Mosby is famous for carrying out a daring raid far inside Union lines at the Fairfax County courthouse in March 1863, where his men captured three Union officers, including Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Stoughton. Mosby wrote in his memoirs that he found Stoughton in bed and roused him with a "spank on his bare back." Upon being so rudely awakened the general indignantly asked what this meant. Mosby quickly asked if he had ever heard of "Mosby". The general replied, "Yes, have you caught him?" "I am Mosby," the Confederate ranger said. "Stuart's cavalry has possession of the Court House; be quick and dress." Mosby and his 29 men had captured a Union general, two captains, 30 enlisted men, and 58 horses without firing a shot.
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From tThe Memoirs of Colonel John S. Mosby:
I had strong personal reasons for being friendly with General Grant. If he had not thrown his shield over me, I should have been outlawed and driven into exile. When Lee surrendered, my battalion was in northern Virginia, on the Potomac, a hundred miles from Appomattox. Secretary of War Stanton invited all soldiers in Virginia to surrender on the same conditions which were offered to Lee's army; but I was excepted. General Grant, who was then all-powerful, interposed, and sent me an offer of the same parole that he had given General Lee. Such a service I could never forget. When the opportunity came, I remembered what he had done for me, and I did all I could for him.
John Singleton Mosby was born to Alfred D. Mosby and Virginia McLaurine Mosby on December 6, 1833. After growing up on his parents' farm in Albermarle County, Virginia, Mosby enrolled in the University of Virginia in 1850. Three years later, he was imprisoned for shooting a man "unlawfully" in defense of a woman's good name, and spent seven months in jail. Following his release, Mosby studied law under William J. Robertson, his former prosecutor, before opening a practice of his own in Howardsville, Virginia. In 1858 he married Pauline Clark with whom he had eight children. At the onset of the Civil War, Mosby joined the First Virginia Cavalry as a private. Although promoted to lieutenant a year later, he resigned his commission when an officer he disapproved of took command of the regiment. However, Mosby remained involved in the war effort, unofficially joining J.E.B. Stuart's staff to serve as scout and spy. In 1862, Stuart gave Mosby permission to organize what would become the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry, a guerrilla operations corps that performed covert raids inside Union territory. Known throughout several Virginia counties as "Mosby's Confederacy," the Battalion provided General Lee with valuable reconnaissance leading to the Confederate army's capture of thousands of Union soldiers and Union supplies worth several hundred thousand dollars. Mosby never formally surrendered with the South, disbanding his troops twelve days after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Despite his vigilant service for the Confederacy, he later befriended President Ulysses S. Grant and became a Republican. Mosby wrote Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign (1908) and his autobiography entitled The Memoirs of John S. Mosby (1917), which was published posthumously.
The Memoirs of John S. Mosby (1917) begins with an introduction by its editor, Charles Wells Russell, who describes John Mosby as one of the most celebrated officers in the Confederate army. Working alongside J.E.B. Stuart, Mosby was a legendary figure who sparked the imaginations of both the North and the South with his daring conquests. Providing commentary from both Confederate and Union officers, Russell conveys Mosby's martial genius and cunning, which earned him an honored place in military history. The narrative that follows further supports these assertions, with Mosby recounting his impressions of the Civil War from an analytical perspective. His narrative serves not simply to describe his own actions, but to reconsider battle strategy and critical decisions made by Confederate generals.
Mosby opens with an account of his boyhood spent on his parents' farm and in school, portraying himself as a frail individual who initially seemed unfit for war. Yet he records his early war experiences with a tone of impatience. He clearly preferred guarding the outposts to encampment and was an early critic of General Johnston's movements in northern Virginia. Although only a private, Mosby explains how he eventually gained the admiration of Generals J.E.B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee by offering his services for daring reconnaissance missions. Time and again he describes outwitting the Union army, earning letters of praise and recommendations for promotion from both Stuart and Lee, which he reprints in the narrative. Mosby also offers detailed portraits of Lee, Grant, and Stuart, for whom Mosby felt great affection and admiration. Mosby had served loyally beside Stuart for years, and out of this devotion he dedicates a section of his narrative to clearing Stuart's name by defending his actions at the Battle of Gettysburg. Lee and others had accused Stuart of joyriding rather than scouting the Union army's movements, but Mosby suggests that the fault remained Lee's. Mosby concludes his narrative with poignant descriptions of Generals Lee and Grant, and recalls Lee's last words to Mosby: "Colonel, I hope we shall have no more wars." His reconstruction of experiences and impressions during the war are strengthened by the incorporation of letters to his wife, Pauline, official correspondence from both Confederate and Union officials, and references made by notable military historians.
John Singleton Mosby was born in Powhatan county, Virginia, December 6, 1833, son of Alfred D. and Virginia I. (McLaurine) Mosby, and grandson of Catharine (Steger) Mosby and of Jane (Ware) McLaurine. He prepared for college in Charlottesville and graduated at the University of Virginia with honors in Greek, June 29, 1852. He studied law and practiced in Bristol, Washington county. He was married, December 30, 1856, to Pauline Clarke, of Kentucky, and they had eight children. In 1861 he enlisted in a company recruited by William E. Jones, for the First Virginia Cavalry, of which he became adjutant. Later, he was a scout at Gen. J. E. B. Stuart's headquarters, and guided Stuart's command to the rear of McClellan's army on the Chickahominy, June 14, 1862. In January, 1863, he recruited a force of cavalry in northern Virginia with which, aided by friendly citizens of Fauquier and Loudoun counties, he harassed the Federals, cut communications and destroyed supply trains. When not on active duty his men scattered for safety, with the understanding that they were to assemble at a given time and place. This system of warfare exasperated the Federal commanders who tried to capture the partisan leader, and this failing, the searching party destroyed the crops and farmhouses belonging to the citizens thought to have harbored or abetted Mosby or his men. At Chantilly, March 16, 1863. he routed a superior Federal cavalry force, and at Dranesville, April 1, 1863, defeated a detachment of cavalry sent to capture him. During the battle of Chancellorsville he surprised a body of Federal cavalry at Warrenton Junction, but was obliged to retreat before overpowering numbers, which he did without loss to his command. He then procured a howitzer and passed in the rear of Gen. Hooker's army; wrecked a railroad train laden with supplies; inflicted severe damage on the troop guarding the train, and finally cut his way through and escaped. He captured a transport near Aquia creek in May, 1864, while Grant was engaged in the Wilderness and the Federal commander was obliged to detach a cavalry force to protect his communications. With twenty-nine men he marched into Fairfax Court House on the night of March 7, 1863, captured Gen. E. H. Stoughton at his headquarters with a number of his staff, and delivered them as prisoners to Gen. J. E. B. Stuart. His command was known as the Forty-third Batallion, Virginia Cavalry, and he was commissioned successively captain, majof, lieutenant-colonel and colonel, C. S. A. After the close of the war he engaged in the practice of law at Warrenton, Virginia. In 1876 he made public through a letter to the "New York Herald" his intention to support the candidacy of Rutherford B. Hayes for the presidency, and in this letter first applied the phrase the "Solid South." President Hayes appointed him United States consul to Hong Kong, China, in 1878, and he retained the office until 1885. Returning to the United States he began the practice of law in San Francisco, California, and became counsel for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. On September 23, 1899, a granite monument, twenty-five feet high, was unveiled at Front Royal, Virginia, by "Mosby's men," in memory of the seven comrades executed near the spot, September 23, 1864, while prisoners of war in the hands of the Federal army. In July, 1901, he was appointed special agent of the general land office, with headquarters at Sterling, Colorado. He is the author of "A Bit of Partisan Service" and "The Confederate Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign" in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War" (Vol. III, pages 148 and 251), and of "Mosby's War Reminiscences and Stuart's Cavalry Campaign" (1887). See "Partisan Life with Mosby" by John Scott, (1867); "Mosby and His Men" by J. M. Crawford, (1867), and "Mosby's Rangers," by J. J. Williamson (1895).
THE MEMOIRS OF COLONEL JOHN S. MOSBY CHAPTER I EARLY LIFE
I WAS born December 6, 1833, at the home of my grandfather, James McLaurine, in Powhatan County, Virginia. He was a son of Robert McLaurine, an Episcopal minister, who came from Scotland before the Revolution. Great-grandfather McLaurine lived at the glebe and is buried at Peterville Church in Powhatan. After the church was disestablished, the State appropriated the glebe, and Peterville was sold to the Baptists. My grandfather McLaurine lived to be very old. He was a soldier of the Revolution, and I well remember his cough, which it was said he contracted from exposure in the war when he had smallpox. My grandfather Mosby was also a native of Powhatan. He lived at Gibraltar, but moved to Nelson County, where my father, Alfred D. Mosby, was born. When I was a child my father bought a farm near Charlottesville, in Albemarle, on which I was raised. I recollect that one day I went with my father to our peach orchard on a high ridge, and he pointed out Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, on a mountain a few miles away, and told me some of the history of the great man who wrote the Declaration of Independence.
At that time there were no public and few private schools in Virginia, but a widow opened a school in Fry's Woods, adjoining my father's farm. My sister Victoria and I went as her pupils. I was seven years old when I learned to read, although I had gone a month or so to a country school in Nelson, near a post office called Murrell's Shop, where I had learned to spell. As I was so young my mother always sent a negro boy with me to the schoolhouse, and he came for me in the evening. But once I begged him to stay all day with me, and I shared my dinner with him. When playtime came, some of the larger boys put him up on a block for sale and he was knocked down to the highest bidder. I thought it was a bona fide sale and was greatly distressed at losing such a dutiful playmate. We went home together, but he never spent another day with me at the schoolhouse. The first drunken man I ever saw was my schoolmaster. He went home at playtime to get his dinner, but took an overdose of whiskey. On the way back he fell on the roadside and went to sleep. The big boys picked him up and carried him into the schoolhouse, and he heard our lessons. The school closed soon after; I don't know why. It was a common thing in the old days of negro slavery for a Virginia gentleman, who had inherited a fortune, to live in luxury with plenty of the comforts of life and die insolvent; while his overseer retired to live on what he had saved. Mr. Jefferson was one example of this. I often heard that Jefferson had held in his arms Betsy Wheat, a pupil at the school where I learned to read. She was the daughter of the overseer and, being the senior of all the other scholars, was the second in command. She exercised as much authority as the schoolmistress. As I have said, the log schoolhouse was in Fry's Woods, which adjoined my father's farm. To this rude hut I walked daily for three sessions, with my eldest sister - later with two - often through a deep snow, to get the rudiments of an education. I remember that the schoolmistress, a most excellent woman, whipped her son and me for fighting. That was the only blow I ever received during the time I went to school. A few years ago I visited the spot in company with Bartlett Bolling, who was with me in the war. There was nothing left but a pile of rocks - the remains of the chimney. The associations of the place raised up phantoms of the past. I am the only survivor of the children who went to school there. I went to the spring along the same path where I had often walked when a barefooted schoolboy and got a drink of cool water from a gourd. There I first realized the pathos of the once popular air, "Ben Bolt"; the spring was still there and the running brook, but all of my schoolmates had gone. The "Peter Parley" were the standard schoolbooks of my day. In my books were two pictures that made a lasting impression on me. One was of Wolfe dying on the field in the arms of a soldier; the other was of Putnam riding down the stone steps with the British close behind him. About that time I borrowed a copy of the "Life of Marion", which was the first book I read, except as a task at school. I remember how I shouted when I read aloud in the nursery of the way the great partisan hid in the swamp and outwitted the British. I did not then expect that the time would ever come when I would have escapes as narrow as that of Putnam and take part in adventures that have been compared with Marion's. When I was ten years old I began going to school in Charlottesville; sometimes I went on horseback, and sometimes I walked. Two of my teachers, - James White, who taught Latin and Greek, and Aleck Nelson, who taught mathematics - were afterwards professors at Washington and Lee, while General Robert E. Lee was its president. When I was sixteen years old I went as a student to the University of Virginia - some evidence of the progress I had made in getting an education. In my youth I was very delicate and often heard that I would never live to be a grown man. But the prophets were wrong, for I have outlived nearly all the contemporaries of my youth. I was devoted to hunting, and a servant always had coffee ready for me at daylight on a Saturday morning, so that I was out shooting when nearly all were sleeping. My father was a slaveholder, and I still cherish a strong affection for the slaves who nursed me and played with me in my childhood. That was the prevailing sentiment in the South - not one peculiar to myself - but one prevailing in all the South toward an institution 1 which we now thank Abraham Lincoln for abolishing. NOTE: Colonel Mosby never had a word to say favorable to slavery - a fact which may be attributed to the influence of Miss Abby Southwick, afterwards Mrs. Stevenson, of Manchester, Massachusetts, who was employed to teach his sisters. She was a strong and outspoken abolitionist and a friend of Garrison and Wendell Phillips. All the Mosby family were, and remained, devoted to Miss Southwick. She and young Mosby had numerous talks on the subject of slavery and other political topics. At the close of the war she immediately sent money and supplies to the family and told how anxiously she had read the papers, fearing to find the news that he had been killed. I had no taste for athletics and have never seen a ball game. My habits of study were never regular, but I always had a literary taste. While I fairly recited Tacitus and Thucydides as a task, I read with delight Irving's stories of the Moors in Granada. Colonel Mosby's career at the University of Virginia, where he graduated in Greek and mathematics, was not so serene throughout as that of the ordinary student. One incident made a lasting impression upon his mind and affected his future course. He was convicted of unlawfully shooting a fellow student and was sentenced to a fine and imprisonment in the jail at Charlottesville. It was the case of defending the good name of a young lady and, while the law was doubtless violated, public sentiment was indicated by the legislature's remitting the fine and the governor's granting a pardon. The Baltimore Sun published an account of this incident, by Mr. John S. Patton, who said that Mosby had been fined ten dollars for assaulting the town sergeant. The young Mosby had been known as one not given to lawless hilarity, but as a "fighter." "And the Colonel himself admits," continues Patton, "that he got the worst of these boyish engagements, except once, when the fight was on between him and Charles Price, of Meachem's, - and in that case they were separated before victory could perch. They also go so far as to say that he was a spirited lad, although far from 'talkative' and not far from quiet, introspective moods. . . . His antagonist this time was George Turpin, a student of medicine in the University. . . . Turpin had carved Frank Morrison to his taste with a pocket knife and added to his reputation by nearly killing Fred M. Wills with a rock. . . . "When Jack Mosby, spare and delicate - Turpin was large and athletic - received the latter's threat that he would eat him 'blood raw' on sight, he proceeded to get ready. The cause of the impending hostilities was an incident at a party at the Spooner residence in Montebello, which Turpin construed as humiliating to him, and with the aid of some friends who dearly loved a fisticuff, he reached the conclusion that John Mosby was to blame and that it was his duty to chastise him. Mosby was due at Mathematics lecture room and thither he went and met Professor Courtnay and did his problems first of all. That over, he thrust a pepper-box pistol into his jacket and went forth to find his enemy. He had not far to go; for by this time the Turpins were keeping a boarding house in the building then, as now, known as the Cabell House, about the distance of four Baltimore blocks from the University. Thither went the future partisan leader, and, with a friend, was standing on the back porch when Turpin approached. He advanced on Mosby at once - but not far; the latter brought his pepper-box into action with instant effect. Turpin went down with a bullet in his throat, and was taken up as good as dead. . . . The trial is still referred to as the cause célèbre in our local court. Four great lawyers were engaged in it: the names of Robertson, Rives, Watson, and Leach adorn the legal annals of Virginia." The prosecutor in this case was Judge William J. Robertson, of Charlottesville, who made a vigorous arraignment of the young student. On visiting the jail one day after the conviction, much to his surprise Robertson was greeted by Mosby in a friendly manner. This was followed by the loan of a copy of Blackstone's "Commentaries" to the prisoner and a lifelong friendship between the two. Thus it was that young Mosby entered upon the study of law, which he made his profession.
Colonel Mosby wrote on a newspaper clipping giving an account of the shooting incident: "I did not go to Turpin's house, but he came to my boarding house, and he had sent me a message that he was coming there to 'eat me up.' " Mosby's conviction affected him greatly, and he did not include an account of it in his story because - or at least it would seem probable - he feared that the conclusion would be drawn that he was more like the picture painted by the enemy during the war, instead of the kindly man he really was. However this may be, nothing pleased him more than the honors paid to him by the people of Charlottesville and by the University of Virginia. He spoke of these things as "one of Time's revenges." In January, 1915, a delegation from Virginia presented Colonel Mosby with a bronze medal and an embossed address which read as follows:
To Colonel John S. Mosby, Warrenton, Virginia.
Your friends and admirers in the University of Virginia welcome this opportunity of expressing for you their affection and esteem and of congratulating you upon the vigor and alertness of body and mind with which you have rounded out your fourscore years. Your Alma Mater has pride in your scholarly application in the days of your prepossessing youth; in your martial genius, manifested in a career singularly original and romantic; in the forceful fluency of your record of the history made by yourself and your comrades in the army of Northern Virginia; and in the dignity, diligence, and sagacity with which you have served your united country at home and abroad. Endowed with the gift of friendship, which won for you the confidence of both Lee and Grant, you have proven yourself a man of war, a man of letters, and a man of affairs worthy the best traditions of your University and your State, to both of which you have been a loyal son.]
CHAPTER II THE WAR BEGINS I WENT to Bristol, Virginia, in October, 1855, and opened a law office. I was a stranger and the first lawyer that located there. When attending court at Abingdon in the summer of 1860 I met William Blackford, who had been in class with me at the University and who was afterwards a colonel of engineers on General Stuart's staff. Blackford asked me to join a cavalry company which he was assisting to raise and in which he expected to be a lieutenant. To oblige him I allowed my name to be put on the muster roll; but was so indifferent about the matter that I was not present when the company organized. William E. Jones was made captain. He was a graduate of West Point and had resigned from the United States army a few years before. Jones was a fine soldier, but his temper produced friction with his superiors and greatly impaired his capacity as a commander. There were omens of war at this time, but nobody realized the impending danger. Our first drill was on January Court Day, 1861. I borrowed a horse and rode up to Abingdon to take my first lesson. After the drill was over and the company had broken ranks, I went to hear John B. Floyd make a speech on the condition of the times. He had been Secretary of War and had lately resigned. Buchanan, in a history of his administration, said that Floyd's resignation had nothing to do with secession, but he requested it on account of financial irregularities he had discovered in the War Department. But to return to the campaign of 1860. I never had any talent or taste for stump speaking or handling party machines, but with my strong convictions I was a supporter of Douglas 1 and the Union. Whenever a Whig became extreme on the slave question, he went over to the opposition party. No doubt the majority of the Virginia Democrats agreed with the Union sentiments of Andrew Jackson, but the party was controlled by a section known as "the chivalry", who were disciples of Calhoun, and got most of the honors. It was for this reason that a Virginia Senator (Mason), who belonged to that school, was selected to read to the Senate the dying speech of the great apostle of secession and slavery (Calhoun). It proved to be a legacy of woe to the South. NOTE: Colonel Mosby was almost the only Douglas Democrat in Bristol; that is to say he was in favor of recognizing the right of a territory belonging to the United States to vote against slavery within its borders. The Breckinridge Democrats believed, especially after the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, in the right of the slaveholders to take their slaves into the territories and hold them there in slavery against the wishes of the inhabitants. I met Mr. Mason at an entertainment given him on his return from London after the close of the war. He still bore himself with pride and dignity, but without that hauteur which is said to have characterized him when he declared in the Senate that he was an ambassador from Virginia. He found his home in the Shenandoah Valley desolate. It will be remembered that, with John Slidell, Mason was captured when a passenger on board an English steamer and sent a prisoner to Fort Warren (in Boston Harbor), but he was released on demand of the English government. Mason told us many interesting things about his trip to London - of a conversation with Lord Brougham at a dinner, and the mistake the London post office had made in sending his mail to the American minister, Charles Francis Adams, and Mr. Adams's mail to Mason. Seeing him thus in the wreck of his hopes and with no future to cheer him, I was reminded of Caius Marius brooding among the ruins of Carthage. William L. Yancey, of Alabama, did more than any other man in the South to precipitate the sectional conflict. In a commercial convention, shortly before the campaign of 1860, he had offered resolutions in favor of repealing the laws against the African slave trade. Yancey attacked Thomas Jefferson as an abolitionist, as Calhoun had done in the Senate, and called Virginia a breeding ground for slaves to sell to the Cotton States. He also charged her people with using the laws against the importation of Africans to create for themselves a monopoly in the slave market. Roger A. Pryor replied to him in a powerful speech. Yancey was more responsible than any other man for the disruption of the Democratic Party and, consequently, of the Union. He came to Virginia to speak in the Presidential canvass. I was attending court at Abingdon, where Yancey was advertised to speak. A few Douglas men in the county had invited Tim Rives, a famous stump orator, to meet Yancey, and I was delegated to call on the latter and prepare a joint debate. Yancey was stopping at the house of Governor Floyd - then Secretary of War. I went to Floyd's home, was introduced to Yancey, and stated my business. He refused the joint debate, and I shall never forget the arrogance and contempt with which he treated me. I heard his speech that day; it was a strong one for his side. As the Virginia people had not yet been educated up to the secession point, Yancey thinly veiled his disunion purposes. That night we put up Tim Rives, who made a great speech in reply to Yancey and pictured the horrors of disunion and war. Rives was elected a member of the Convention that met the next winter, and there voted against disunion. Early in the war, the company in which I was a private was in camp near Richmond, and one day I met Rives on the street. It was the first time I had seen him since the speech at Abingdon. I had written an account of his speech for a Richmond paper, which pleased him very much, and he was very cordial. He wanted me to go with him to the governor's house and get Governor Letcher, who had also been a Douglas man the year before, to give me a commission. I declined and told him that as I had no military training, I preferred serving as a private under a good officer. I had no idea then that I should ever rise above the ranks. A few days before the presidential election, I was walking on the street in Bristol when I was attracted by a crowd that was holding a Bell and Everett meeting. Some one called on me to make a Union speech. I rose and told the meeting that I saw no reason for making a Union speech at a Bell and Everett meeting; that it was my mission to call not the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. This "brought down the house." I little thought that in a few months I should be regarded as one of the sinners. I was very friendly with the editor of the secession paper in my town. One day he asked me what I intended to do in the case of a collision between the Government and South Carolina. I told him I would be on the side of the Union. He said that I should find him on the other side. "Very well," I replied, "I shall meet you at Philippi." Some years after the war he called upon me in Washington and jokingly reminded me of what I had said to him. As he was about my age and did not go into the army, I was tempted to tell him that I did go to Philippi, but did not meet him there. 1 NOTE: The editor in question, Mr. J. A. Sperry, of the Bristol Courier, has told the story in a somewhat different way. In writing his reminiscences of Mosby he said: "Mosby pursued the even tenor of his way until the memorable Presidential Campaign of 1860. So guarded had been his political utterances that but few of the villagers knew with which of the parties to class him, when he suddenly bloomed out as an elector on the Douglas ticket. This seemed to fix his status as a Union Democrat. I say seemed, for I am now inclined to think his politics was like his subsequent fighting, - independent and irregular. "We saw little of him in the stirring times immediately succeeding the election. One morning about the middle of January, 1861, I met him in the street, when he abruptly accosted me, 'I believe you are a secessionist per se.' " 'What has led you to that conclusion?' " 'The editorial in your paper to-day.' " 'You have not read it carefully,' said I. 'There is nothing in it to justify your inference. In summing up the events of the week, I find that several sovereign States have formally severed their connection with the Union. We are confronted with the accomplished fact of secession. I have expressed no opinion either of the right or the expediency of the movement. I am not a secessionist per se, if I understand the term; but a secessionist by the logic of events.' " 'I am glad to hear it,' he rejoined. 'I have never coveted the office of Jack Ketch, but I would cheerfully fill it for one day for the pleasure of hanging a disunionist per se. Do you know what secession means? It means bloody war, followed by feuds between the border States, which a century may not see the end of.' " 'I do not agree with you,' I said. 'I see no reason why secession should not be peaceable. But in the event of the dreadful war you predict, which side will you take?' " 'I shall fight for the Union, Sir, - for the Union, of course, and you?' " 'Oh, I don't apprehend any such extremity, but if I am forced into the struggle, I shall fight for my mother section. Should we meet upon the field of battle, as Yancey said to Brownlow the other day, I would run a bayonet through you.' " 'Very well, - we'll meet at Philippi,' retorted Mosby and stalked away. " 'Several months elapsed before I saw him again, but the rapid and startling events of those months made them seem like years. I was sitting in my office writing, one day in the latter part of April, when my attention was attracted by the quick step of some one entering and the exclamation, 'How do you like my uniform?' "It was a moment before I could recognize the figure pirouetting before me in the bob-tail coat of a cavalry private. " 'Why, Mosby!' I exclaimed, 'This isn't Philippi, nor is that a Federal uniform.' " 'No more of that,' said he, with a twinkle of the eye. 'When I talked that way, Virginia had not passed the ordinance of secession. She is out of the Union now. Virginia is my mother, God bless her! I can't fight against my mother, can I?' "
In April, 1861, came the call to arms. On the day after the bombardment by South Carolina and the surrender of Fort Sumter that aroused all the slumbering passions of the country, I was again attending court at Abingdon, when the telegraph operator told me of the great news that had just gone over the wire. Mr. Lincoln had called on the States for troops to suppress the rebellion. In the preceding December, Floyd had ordered Major Anderson to hold Sumter against the secessionists to the last extremity. Anderson simply obeyed Floyd's orders. When the news came, Governor Floyd was at home, and I went to his house to tell him. I remember he said it would be the bloodiest war the world had ever seen. Floyd's was a sad fate. He had, as Secretary of War, given great offense to the North by the shipping of arms from the northern arsenals to the South, some months before secession. He was charged with having been in collusion with the enemies of the Government under which he held office, and with treachery. At Donelson he was the senior officer in command. When the other brigadiers refused to fight any longer, he brought off his own men and left the others to surrender to Grant. This was regarded as a breach of discipline, and Jefferson Davis relieved him of his command. When Lincoln's proclamation was issued, the Virginia Convention was still in session and had not passed a secession ordinance, so she was not included with States against which the proclamation was first directed. With the exception of the northwestern section of the State, where there were few slaves and the Union sentiment predominated, the people of Virginia, in response to the President's call for troops to enforce the laws, sprang to arms to resist the Government. The war cry "To arms!" resounded throughout the land and, in the delirium of the hour, we all forgot our Union principles in our sympathy with the pro-slavery cause, and rushed to the field of Mars. In issuing his proclamation, Lincoln referred for authority to a statute in pursuance of which George Washington sent an army into Pennsylvania to suppress the Whiskey Insurrection. But the people were persuaded that Lincoln's real object was to abolish slavery, although at his inaugural he had said: There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension that by the accession of the Republican administration their property and their peace and personal security were endangered. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists." I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. The South had always been solid for slavery and when the quarrel about it resulted in a conflict of arms, those who had approved the policy of disunion took the pro-slavery side. It was perfectly logical to fight for slavery, if it was right to own slaves. Enforcing the laws was not coercing a State unless the State resisted the execution of the laws. When such a collision came, coercion depended on which was the stronger side. The Virginia Convention had been in session about two months, but a majority had opposed secession up to the time of the proclamation, and even then a large minority, including many of the ablest men in Virginia, voted against it. Among that number was Jubal Early, who was prominent in the war. Nobody cared whether it was a constitutional right they were exercising, or an act of revolution. At such times reason is silent and passion prevails. The ordinance of secession was adopted in April and provided that it be submitted to a popular vote on the fourth Thursday in May. According to the States' Rights theory, Virginia was still in the Union until the ordinance was ratified; but the State immediately became an armed camp, and her troops seized the United States Armory at Harper's Ferry and the Norfolk Navy Yard. Virginia went out of the Union by force of arms, and I went with her. CHAPTER III A PRIVATE IN THE CAVALRY IN that fateful April, 1861, our local company, with other companies of infantry and cavalry, went into camp in a half-finished building of the Martha Washington College in the suburbs of Abingdon. Captain Jones allowed me to remain in Bristol for some time to close up the business I had in hand for clients and to provide for my family. A good many owed me fees when I left home, and they still owe me. My last appearance in court was at Blountville, Tennessee, before the Chancellor. My first night in camp I was detailed as one of the camp guards. Sergeant Tom Edmonson - a gallant soldier who was killed in June, 1864 - gave me the countersign and instructed me as to the duties of a sentinel. For two hours, in a cold wind, I walked my round and was very glad when my relief came and I could go to rest on my pallet of straw. The experience of my first night in camp rather tended to chill my military ardor and was far more distasteful than picketing near the enemy's lines on the Potomac, which I afterwards did in hot and cold weather, very cheerfully; in fact I enjoyed it. The danger of being shot by a rifleman in a thicket, if not attractive, at least kept a vidette awake and watching. At this time I was the frailest and most delicate man in the company, but camp duty was always irksome to me, and I preferred being on the outposts. During the whole time that I served as a private - nearly a year - I only once missed going on picket three times a week. The single exception was when I was disabled one night by my horse falling over a cow lying in the road. Captain Jones had strict ideas of discipline, which he enforced, but he took good care of his horses as well as his men. There was a horse inspection every morning, and the man whose horse was not well groomed got a scolding mixed with some cursing by Captain Jones. Jones was always very kind to me. He drilled his own company and also a company of cavalry from Marion, which had come to our camp to get the benefit of his instruction in cavalry tactics. In the Marion company was William E. Peters, Professor at Emory and Henry College, who had graduated-in the same class in Greek with me at the University. When he and I were students reading Thucydides, we did not expect ever to take part in a greater war than the Peloponnesian. Peters had left his literary work to be a lieutenant of cavalry. He was made a staff officer by General Floyd in his campaign that year in West Virginia. For some reason Peters was not with Floyd when the latter escaped from Fort Donelson in February, 1862. Peters was a strict churchman, but considered it his duty to fight a duel with a Confederate officer. He became a colonel of cavalry. Peters's regiment was with McCausland when he was sent by General Early in August, 1864, to Chambersburg, and his regiment was selected as the one to set fire to the town. Peters refused to obey the order, for which he is entitled to a monument to his memory. Reprisals in war can only be justified as a deterrent. As the Confederates were holding the place for only a few hours, while the Northern armies were occupying a large part of the South, no doubt, aside from any question of humanity, Peters thought it was bad policy to provoke retaliation. General Early ordered a reprisal in kind on account of the houses burned in the Shenandoah Valley a few months before by General Hunter. As General Early made no mention of Peters in his book, I imagine it was because of his refusal to apply the torch to Chambersburg. On his return from this expedition, McCausland was surprised by Averill at Moorefield, and Peters was wounded and captured. He told me that he had expected to be put under arrest for disobedience as soon as he got back to Virginia. Hunter was a member of an old Virginia family, but he showed no favor to Virginians. At Bull Run he commanded the leading division that crossed at Sudley and was badly wounded, but there was no sympathy for him in Virginia. A relative of his told me that when Hunter met a lady who was a near relative, he offered to embrace her, but was repelled. She thought that in fighting against Virginia he was committing an unnatural act and that he had the feelings, described by Hamlet, of one who "would kill a king and marry with his brother." On Hunter's staff was his relative, Colonel Strother, who had won literary distinction over the pen name of "Porte Crayon." Both men seemed to be animated by the same sentiments towards their kin. Hunter presided over the court that condemned Mrs. Surratt as an accessory to the assassination of President Lincoln. He closed his life by suicide. But to return to our company of cavalry and my first days as a soldier. We were sent, within a few days, to another camping ground, where we had plank sheds for shelter and where we drilled regularly. Several companies of infantry shared the camp with us. Once I had been detailed for camp guard and, having been relieved just as the company went out to drill, I saddled my horse and went along. I had no idea, that it was a breach of discipline to be doing double duty, until two men with muskets came up and told me that I was under arrest for it. I was too proud to say a word and, as my time had come, I went again to walking my rounds. Once after that, when we were in camp on Bull Run, I was talking at night with the Colonel in his tent and did not hear the bugle sounded for roll call. So a lieutenant, who happened to be in command, ordered me, as a penalty, to do duty the rest of the morning as a camp guard. He knew that my absence from roll call was not wilful but a mistake. I would not make any explanation but served my tour of duty. These were the only instances in which I was punished when a private. Our Circuit Judge, Fulkerson, who had served in the Mexican War, was appointed a colonel by Governor Letcher, and took command of the camp at Abingdon. But in a few days we were ordered to Richmond. Fulkerson, with the infantry, went by rail, but Jones preferred to march his Company all the way. As he had been an officer in the army on the plains, we learned a good deal from him in the two weeks on the road, and it was a good course of discipline for us. I was almost a perfect stranger in the company to which I belonged, and I felt so lonely in camp that I applied to Captain Jones for a transfer to an infantry company from Bristol. He said that I would have to get the approval of the Governor and forwarded my application to him at Richmond. Fortunately the next day we were ordered away, and I heard nothing more about the transfer. On May 30, in the afternoon, our company - one hundred strong - left Abingdon to join the army. In spite of a drizzling rain the whole population was out to say farewell; in fact a good many old men rode several miles with us. We marched ten miles and then disbanded to disperse in squads, under the command of an officer or of a non-commissioned officer, to spend the night at the country homes. I went under Jim King, the orderly sergeant, and spent the night at the house of Major Ab. Beattie, who gave us the best of everything, but I was so depressed at parting with my wife and children that I scarcely spoke a word. King had been a cadet at West Point for a short time and had learned something of tactics. He was afterwards transferred to the 37th Virginia Infantry and was killed in Jackson's battle at Kernstown. When the roll was called the next morning at the rendezvous at old Glade Spring Church, I don't think a man was missing. The men were boiling with enthusiasm and afraid that the war would be over before they got to the firing line. I remember one man who was conspicuous on the march; he rode at the head of the column and got the bouquets the ladies threw at us; but in our first battle he was conspicuous for his absence and stayed with the wagons. Our march to the army was an ovation. Nobody dreamed of the possibility of our failure and the last scene of the great drama at Appomattox. We made easy marches, and by the time we got to Wytheville, all of my depression of spirits had gone, and I was as lively as anybody. It took us two weeks to get to Richmond, where we spent a few days on the Fair Grounds. We were then sent to a camp of instruction at Ashland, where we remained a short time or until we, with a cavalry company from Amelia County, were ordered to in Joe Johnston's army in the Shenandoah. I well remember that we were in Ashland when news came to us that Joe Johnston, on June 15, had retreated from Harper's Ferry to Winchester. To begin the war by abandoning such an outpost, when there was no enemy near and no necessity for it, was a shock for which we were not prepared, and it chilled our enthusiasm. I couldn't understand it - that was all - but my instinct told me at the time what was afterwards confirmed by reason and experience - that a great blunder had been committed. At Wytheville, on our third days march to Richmond, we got the papers which informed us that the war had actually begun in a skirmish at Fairfax, where Captain Marr had been killed. We were greatly excited by the news of the affair. Our people had been reading about war and descriptions of battles by historians and poets, from the days of Homer down, and were filled with enthusiasm for military glory. They had no experience in the hardships of military service and knew nothing, had no conception, of the suffering it brings to the homes of those who have left them. In all great wars, women and children are the chief sufferers. Our company joined the First Virginia Cavalry, commanded by Colonel J. E. B. Stuart, in the Shenandoah Valley. At Richmond, Captain Jones, who stood high with those in authority, had procured Sharp carbines for us. We considered this a great compliment, as arms were scarce in the Confederacy. We had been furnished with sabres before we left Abingdon, but the only real use I ever heard of their being put to was to hold a piece of meat over a fire for frying. I dragged one through the first year of the war, but when I became a commander, I discarded it. The sabre and lance may have been very good weapons in the days of chivalry, and my suspicion is that the combats of the hero of Cervantes were more realistic and not such burlesques as they are supposed to be. But certainly the sabre is of no use against gunpowder. Captain Jones also made requisition for uniforms, but when they arrived there was almost a mutiny. They were a sort of dun color and came from the penitentiary. The men piled them up in the camp, and all but Fount Beattie and myself refused to wear them. We joined Joe Johnston's army in the Shenandoah Valley at his headquarters in Winchester and rested there for a day. Then we went on to join Colonel J. E. B. Stuart's regiment at Bunker Hill, a village about twelve miles distant on the pike leading to Martinsburg, where Patterson's army was camped. We were incorporated into the First Virginia Cavalry, which Stuart had just organized, now on outpost to watch Patterson. I had never seen Stuart before, and the distance between us was so great that I never expected to rise to even an acquaintance with him. Stuart was a graduate of West Point and as a lieutenant in Colonel Sumner's regiment, the First Cavalry, had won distinction and had been wounded in an Indian fight. At the beginning of the war he was just twenty-eight years old. His appearance - which included a reddish beard and a ruddy complexion - indicated a strong physique and great energy. In his work on the outposts Stuart soon showed that he possessed the qualities of a great leader of cavalry. He never had an equal in such service. He discarded the old maxims and soon discovered that in the conditions of modern war the chief functions of cavalry are to learn the designs and to watch and report the movements of the enemy. We rested a day in camp, and many of us wrote letters to our homes, describing the hospitable welcome we had met on our long march and our anxiety to meet the foe who was encamped a few miles away. On the following day, to our great delight, Captain Jones was ordered to take us on a scout towards Martinsburg. My first experience was near there - at Snodgrass Spring - where we came upon two soldiers who were out foraging. They ran across the field, but we overtook them. I got a canteen from one - the first I had ever seen - which I found very useful in the first battle I was in. It was a trophy which I prized highly. We got a good view of Patterson's army, a mile or so away, and returned that evening to our bivouac, all in the highest of spirits. Nearly every man in the company wrote a letter to somebody the next day.
CHAPTER IV JOHNSTON’S RETREAT FROM HARPER’S FERRY THE first great military blunder of the war was committed by Johnston in evacuating Harper's Ferry. Both Jackson and General Lee, who was then in Richmond organizing the army and acting as military adviser, were opposed to this. They wanted to hold it, not as a fortress with a garrison, but to break communication with the West, and a salient for an active force to threaten the flank of an invading army. On April 27, Stonewall Jackson was ordered to the command of Harper's Ferry, which the militia had seized a few days before. Harper's Ferry is situated in a gap in the Blue Ridge through which flow the waters of the Potomac anal the Shenandoah. John Brown had seized the place in his rebellion. The fact that he tried to start a slave insurrection in a region where there were few slaves is proof that he was a monomaniac. But Harper's Ferry was a place of great strategic value for the Confederates, as the railroad and canal on the Potomac from Washington, fifty miles below, passed through the gap. It was a salient position; its possession by the Confederates was a menace to the North and broke direct communication between the Capital and the West. A strategic offensive on the border was the best policy to encourage Southern sentiment in Maryland and defend the Shenandoah Valley from invasion. A Virginian lieutenant, Roger Jones, had been stationed at Harper's Ferry with a small guard to protect the property of the Government. He remained until the force coming to capture the place was in sight, then set fire to the buildings, and retreated. His example in holding the position to the last extremity was not followed by the Confederates. When Jackson arrived at the scene of his command, without waiting for instructions, he prepared to hold it by fortifying Maryland Heights. "I am of the opinion," he wrote to General Lee, "that this place should be defended with the spirit that actuated the defenders of Thermopylae and if left to myself such is my determination." General Lee was in accord with Jackson's sentiments. Now Jackson did not mean that Harper's Ferry should be held as a fortress to stand a siege; nor that he would stay there and die like the Spartans in the Pass, but that he would hold it until a likelihood of its being surrounded by superior numbers was imminent. There was no prospect of this being the case, for no investing force was near. The best way to defend the Shenandoah Valley was to hold the line of the Potomac as a menace to Washington. Major Deas, who had been sent to Harper's Ferry as an inspector of the Confederate War Department, thought that the troops showed an invincible spirit of resistance. On May 21 he wrote: "I have not asked Colonel Jackson his opinion on the subject, but my own is that there is force enough here to hold the place against any attack which, under the existing state of affairs, may be contemplated." And on May 23, the day before McDowell's army at Washington crossed into Virginia, he reported that there were "about 8000 troops at Harper's Ferry and the outposts, including five companies of artillery and a naval battery, and that 7300 were then able to go into battle well-armed. The Naval Batteries," he said, "under Lieutenant Fauntleroy, are placed on the northern and southern salients of the village of Harper's Ferry and envelop by their fire the whole of the town of Bolivar and the approaches of the immediate banks of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. The cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. B. Stuart is in very good condition and quite effective. All the infantry regiments are daily drilled in the school of the soldier and company, and valuable assistance is received in this respect from the young men who have been instructed at the Military School at Lexington." Neither Jackson nor Major Deas knew of any immediate danger of Harper's Ferry being invested. On May 24, in accordance with orders from the Confederate Government at Montgomery, General Joseph E. Johnston assumed command at the Ferry, and in a few days Jackson was given a brigade of five Virginia regiments. The outposts at the Ferry then extended from Williamsport on the Potomac to Point of Rocks on the river below. Johnston at once submitted a memorandum to Richmond on the conditions at Harper's Ferry, which displayed the caution for which he became distinguished. He seemed to have little confidence in his troops and thought the position could be easily turned from above or below, taking no account of the fact that he might turn the flank of an enemy who was flanking him. Johnston asked instructions from General Lee in relation to the manner in which the troops he commanded should be used. And on May 28 he again wrote in the same tone of despair: "If the Commander-in-Chief has precise instructions to give I beg to receive them early. I have prepared means of transportation for a march. Should it be decided that the troops should constitute a garrison this expense can be recalled," which shows he was getting ready for a retreat. With this letter Johnston enclosed a memorandum from a staff officer, Major Whiting, in which the latter spoke of troops that were gathering at Carlisle and Chambersburg, intimating that in the event of the advance of this force it might be necessary to move out to prevent being shut up in a cul-de-sac. But such a thing was too remote and contingent to constitute a danger of investment at that time. No place is absolutely impregnable; Gibraltar has been captured. The answer Johnston should have received to this request for orders was that he did not command a garrison to defend a fortress, but an active force in the field; and that Harper's Ferry might be held as a picket post. The discipline of Johnston's troops ought to have been as good as that of the three months' men that Patterson was collecting at Chambersburg, fifty miles away. In addition to the cadets of the Virginia Military Institute, who were drilling his regiments, Johnston had in his army at least ten officers who had lately resigned from the U. S. Army. Nearly all of the field officers of Jackson's brigade had been educated at the Military Institute, and several had been officers in the Mexican War. Their conduct in battle a few weeks afterwards shows how much Johnston had underrated them. The men were volunteers full of enthusiasm for a cause and rendered cheerful obedience to orders; it was not necessary to drill such material into machines to make them soldiers. Johnston complained of the want of discipline of his army and the danger of being surrounded by a superior force. The force that was coming to surround the Ferry was a spectre. McDowell's and Patterson's armies were fifty miles away and a hundred miles apart. At the request of Governor Pierpont a few regiments had crossed the Ohio, but McClellan's headquarters were still at Cincinnati. Any movement from that direction would naturally be through central Virginia - towards Richmond - in coöperation with McDowell. Johnston continued to show great anxiety about his position and wrote about it several times to General Lee. But neither Lee nor President Davis could see the danger as he saw it, and on June 7 General Lee - to calm his fears wrote him: "He (the President) does not think it probable that there will be an immediate attack by troops from Ohio. General N. J. Garnett, C. S. Army, with a command of 4000 men, has been dispatched to Beverly to arrest the progress of troops. . . . Colonel McDonald has also been sent to interrupt the passage of troops over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It is hoped by these means you will be relieved from an attack in that direction, and will have merely to meet an attack in front from Pennsylvania." In the meantime reinforcements were going to Beauregard and Johnston almost daily. Wise and Floyd had been sent to the Kanawha Valley to counteract any movement there, and Garnett, with four thousand troops, had been sent to northwest Virginia. Patterson's was the only force from which Johnston could expect an attack, and as he would have to make detachments from it to guard his communications, Patterson could not be much superior in numbers when the collision should come. General Lee, as adviser to the War Department, was really the de facto Secretary of War and directed all operations in the field. He had selected Manassas Junction as a strategic point for the concentration of troops, on account of its being in connection with the Valley. On return from Manassas Junction, to relieve Johnston of anxiety about his flank being turned, Lee wrote to him that he had placed Colonel Ewell in advance at Fairfax Court House and Colonel Eppa Hunton at Leesburg on the Potomac, each with a force of infantry and cavalry in reservation, who would inform him of any movement to his rear. But Johnston continued uneasy and, although he was receiving reinforcements, he again wrote that he had heard that Patterson had 10,000 troops at Chambersburg, that some of McClellan's troops had reached Grafton, and he apprehended a junction of all of those forces against him. He should at least have waited for the development of such a plan and then, instead of retreating, have taken the offensive to defeat it. Johnston's suggestion meant the abandonment of the Valley. Patterson, who was organizing the force at Chambersburg, was a political general, only remembered for having allowed the force he commanded in the Shenandoah Valley to render no service at a critical time. Patterson proposed to capture Harper's Ferry, which, of course, General Scott was very willing to do. But the only support Scott could promise from Washington was to make a demonstration towards Manassas to prevent reinforcements going to the Valley and to send a force of 2500 on a secondary expedition up the Potomac. As the Ferry was of great strategic value as an outpost, Scott warned Patterson of the desperate resistance he might expect from the Confederates. He did not suspect that the Confederates were then packing up to leave. On June 14 the Confederates began the evacuation of Harper's Ferry and retreated ten or twelve miles to Charles Town. No movement had been made against them from any direction. Several regiments had just arrived - there were about 3000 militia at Winchester, and a force of the enemy had retreated from Romney. On June 13, after repeated requests for instructions about holding Harper's Ferry, which showed clearly a desire to shift the responsibility for it, the War Department wrote him the conditions on which the place should be evacuated: "You have been heretofore instructed to use your own discretion as to retiring from your position at Harper's Ferry and taking the field to check the advance of the enemy. . . . As you seem to desire, however, that the responsibility of your retirement should be assumed here, and as no reluctance is felt to bear any burden which the public interest may require, you can consider yourself authorized, whenever the position of the enemy shall convince you that he is about to turn your position and thus deprive the country of the services of yourself and the troops under your command, to destroy everything at Harper's Ferry." Johnston seems to have met this letter at Charles Town while it was on the way, and did not wait for it at the Ferry. Johnston's report says he met a courier from Richmond with a despatch authorizing him to evacuate Harper's Ferry at his discretion. The dispatch he received had no such instructions; the conditions on which he was authorized to abandon the place had not arisen; no enemy was threatening to turn his position. On June 15 Patterson crossed the Maryland line. His leading brigade was commanded by Colonel George H. Thomas, a Virginian, who was an officer in the Second Cavalry under Lee. It had been expected that he would go with the people of his native State. On the sixteenth his brigade waded the Potomac. When Patterson heard that Harper's Ferry had been abandoned, he was incredulous and thought it was a ruse, giving Joe Johnston a credit he himself never claimed. The evacuation of Harper's Ferry before it was compelled by the presence of an enemy was not approved at Richmond, nor was it done to act in concert with any other force, as was then supposed. The victory at Bull Run a few weeks afterwards confirmed the impression that the movement had been made in coöperation with Beauregard. The latter knew nothing of such a purpose until he heard that the Confederates had lost their advantage, and that the enemy held the key to the Shenandoah Valley. In plain words it was a retreat. The evacuation of the post before there was any pressure to compel it made Johnston the innocent cause of a comedy at Washington. General Scott could not comprehend what could be the motive for it, except on the theory of its being a feigned retreat to capture Washington by a stratagem. No other reason could be conceived why the Confederates should surrender, without making a defense, the advantage of Harper's Ferry as a base. After a part of his force had crossed the Potomac, to his surprise, Patterson received a telegram from General Scott, on June 16, ordering him to send at once to Washington all the regular troops, horse and foot, and Burnside's Rhode Island regiment. And on the 17th of June, Scott repeated the order and said: "We are pressed here. Send the troops I have twice called for without delay." Where the pressure could come from was a mystery to Patterson, as he knew that Johnston was still in the Shenandoah Valley, but the order was imperative, and he obeyed. "The troops were sent," he said, "leaving me without a single piece of artillery, and for the time with but one troop of cavalry, which had not been in service over a month." So the hostile armies retreated in opposite directions. Patterson recrossed the Potomac, and Johnston, unconscious of the alarm which his retreat had given in Washington, went on to Winchester.
There was another amusing episode on June 16 as a result of the Harper's Ferry operations. In anticipation of the demonstration he was to make in favor of Patterson's predicted attack on Harper's Ferry, McDowell had sent General Schenck on the Loudoun railroad as an advance guard. When turning a curve near Vienna, a fire was opened on the train by what Schenck called a "masked battery." The engine was in the rear, and as the engineer could not draw the train out of the range of fire, he detached the engine and disappeared under a full head of steam. So Schenck and his men had to walk back. Under a flag of truce he asked permission to bury the dead and take care of the wounded. Schenck afterwards gained notoriety as U. S. Minister at London and was recalled. The only distinction he won in the war was as the inventor of the term "masked battery." The battery that did so much damage was commanded by my schoolmate, Del Kemper.
The whole country was greatly surprised by the news of the evacuation of Harper's Ferry. If Johnston had waited a day longer for the answer to his request for instructions, his retreat would have been a disobedience of orders. The conditions did not exist, in the opinion of the War Department, which would justify the evacuation. Johnston sent a reply in which he disclaimed a desire to shift responsibility - which was clearly inconsistent with his request for instructions. Harper's Ferry should have been held until danger was imminent. It must have been a position of strategic value as well as of tactical strength since it was held by 11,000 men against the Confederates and used as a base in the Gettysburg campaign and also when Early invaded Maryland. When the Ferry was evacuated, McDowell's army was fifty miles below defending Washington, and Beauregard, in his front, fully occupied his attention. Patterson was at Hagerstown, had not crossed the Potomac, and had given no sign of doing so.
CHAPTER V RECOLLECTIONS OF BATTLE OF MANASSAS 1 THE First Virginia Cavalry remained in the Shenandoah Valley until the eighteenth of July when, by forced marches, it was sent to join the army and take its part in the Battle of Manassas. When we left the Valley, Stuart sent Captain Patrick's company to watch Patterson, whose army was in camp at Charles Town, and to screen the transfer of the army to the east of the Blue Ridge. It was well known that in a few days the most of Patterson's regiments would be mustered out of service and would go home. It was evident that his prime object had been not to divert Johnston's army but to avoid a collision. Patterson no doubt thought that he had effected his purpose and was content to rest where he was. Stuart's regiment arrived at the scene of the approaching battle on the evening of July go and went into bivouac near Ball's Ford. The armies were so close together that there was a great deal of picket firing, and I remember very well the foreboding I felt when I lay down under a pine tree to rest beside Fount Beattie. When the bugle sounded on the morning of the twenty-first, in counting off, I was Number 1 in the first set of fours and rode at the head of the squadron that day. Nothing afterwards occurred in my military career that gives me more satisfaction to remember. A few days before six Colt pistols had been sent to our company, and Captain Jones had selected the men who were to have them. I was one of the six - I don't know why. But to reconcile those who got no pistols, Jones told them that the six should be selected for the most dangerous work. Shortly after breakfast on the morning of the battle, Stuart sent Jones to make a reconnaissance over Bull Run. When we reached the woods where he thought the enemy might be, Jones called for the six men. We all responded and rode off into the woods to reconnoitre, but we didn't find an enemy. So the company recrossed the Run. NOTE: This, the first battle of the war, was known in the North as the Battle of Bull Run, and in the South as the Battle of Manassas Our regiment was divided during the battle, and the squadron to which I belonged was placed under a Major Swan, a Marylander. Late in the day when the enemy was in retreat, Swan halted us in a field within fifty yards of Kemper's guns, which were firing on the retreating troops. That was the very time for us to have been on the enemy's flank. I was near Captain Jones. He rose in his stirrups and said indignantly, "Major Swan! You can't be too bold in pursuing a flying enemy." But he made no impression on Swan. After dark Swan marched us back over Bull Run, and I slept in a drenching rain in a fence corner. Swan did not get a man or a horse scratched. He did a life insurance business that day. Instead of Swan supporting the battery, the battery supported Swan. Afterwards my last official act as adjutant of the company was to carry an order from Jones who had become colonel, for Swan's arrest. We lay all the next day near the battlefield, and I rode over it, carrying a despatch to Stuart at Sudley. But the first thing I did in the morning was to make a temporary shelter from the rain in a fence corner and write a letter to my wife. Monday, July 22d, Battlefield of Manassas. My dearest Pauline:
There was a great battle yesterday. The Yankees are overwhelmingly routed. Thousands of them killed. I was in the fight. We at one time stood for two hours under a perfect storm of shot and shell - it was a miracle that none of our company was killed. We took all of their cannon from them; among the batteries captured was Sherman's - battle lasted about 7 hours - about 90,000 Yankees, 45,000 of our men. The cavalry pursued them till dark - followed 6 or 7 miles. Genl. Scott commanded them. I just snatch this moment to write - am out doors in a rain - will write you all particulars when I get a chance. We start just as soon as we can get our breakfast to follow them to Alexandria. We made a forced march to get here to the battle - travelled about 65 miles without stopping. My love to all of you. In haste. Yours devotedly, Early on Tuesday morning (July 23) Stuart's regiment and Eley's brigade moved to Fairfax Court House and camped near there on opposite sides of the Alexandria pike. Stuart's dispatch to General Johnston, who was still at Manassas, says we got there at 9.30 A.M. The country looked very much like Egypt after a flood of the Nile - it was strewn with the debris of McDowell's army. I again wrote to my wife and used paper and an envelope which the Zouaves had left behind. On it was a picture of a Zouave charging with a fixed bayonet and an inscription - "Up guards and at them" - which is said to have been Wellington's order at Waterloo. The Zouaves were then charging on New York.
Fairfax Court House, July 24th, 1861. My dearest Pauline:
I telegraphed and wrote you from Manassas early the next morning after the battle. We made a forced march from Winchester to get to Manassas in time for the fight, - travelled two whole days and one night without stopping (in the rain) and getting only one meal. We arrived the morning before the fight. It lasted about ten hours and was terrific. When we were first brought upon the field we were posted as a reserve just in rear of our artillery and directly within range of the hottest fire of the enemy. For two hours we sat there on our horses, exposed to a perfect storm of grapeshot, balls, bombs, etc. They burst over our heads, passed under our horses, yet nobody was hurt. I rode my horse nearly to death on the battlefield, going backward and forward, watching the enemy's movements to prevent their flanking our command. When I first got on the ground my heart sickened. We met Hampton's South Carolina legion retreating. I thought the day was lost and with it the Southern cause. We begged them, for the honor of their State, to return. But just then a shout goes up along our lines. Beauregard arrives and assures us that the day will be ours. This reanimated the troops to redouble their efforts. Our regiment had been divided in the morning; half was taken to charge the enemy early in the action and the remaining part (ours and Amelia Co.) were held as a reserve, to cover the retreat of our forces, if unsuccessful, and to take advantage of any favorable moment. When, late in the evening, the Yankees gave way, they seemed overwhelmed with confusion and despair. They abandoned everything - arms, wagons, horses, ammunition, clothing, all sorts of munitions of war. They fled like a flock of panic-stricken sheep. We took enough arms, accoutrements, etc. to equip the whole army. They were splendidly equipped, had every imaginable comfort and convenience which Yankee ingenuity could devise. The fight would not have been half so long had it been an open-field one, but the Yankees were protected by a thick pine woods, so that it was almost impossible to get at them with the cavalry. They never once stood to a clash of the bayonet - always broke and ran. In the evening, when they gave way, the order was given to charge them. We were then in the distant part of the field. In a moment we were in full pursuit, and as we swept on by the lines of our infantry, at full speed, the shouts of our victorious soldiers rent the air. We pursued them for six or eight miles, until darkness covered their retreat. The whole road was blocked up with what they abandoned in their flight. All our regiment (in fact, nearly all the soldiers) now have splendid military overcoats which they took. I have provided myself very well. We took every piece of their artillery from them - 62 pieces - among them, one of the finest batteries in the world. Their total loss cannot be less then 5000. Our company is now equipped with Yankee tents, (I am writing under one). We are also eating Yankee provisions, as they left enough to feed the army a long time . . . All of the Northern Congress came out as spectators of the fight. A Senator was killed by a cannon ball - Foster. All of our troops fought well, but the Virginia troops bore the brunt of the battle, especially Jackson's brigade. A Washington paper says they were scarce of ammunition - a lie, for we took enough from them to whip them over again. Our Captain (who you know is an old army officer) complimented our company very much for their coolness and bravery in standing fire, - said that we stood like old veterans. We were placed in the most trying position in which troops can be placed, to be exposed to a fire which you cannot return. . . . There was scarcely a minute during the battle that I did not think of you and my sweet babes. I had a picture of May [his daughter] which I took out once and looked at. For a moment the remembrance of her prattling innocence almost unfitted me for the stern duties of a soldier, - but a truce to such thoughts. We are now marching on to bombard Washington City. Fairfax Court House, July 27, 1861. Dearest Pauline:
We are here awaiting for the whole army to come up . . . Several of our men got scared into fits at the battle. A Dr. - put a blister on his heart as an excuse not to go into battle; one named - was so much frightened when the shells commenced bursting around us that he fell off his horse - commenced praying; the surgeon ran up, - thought he was shot; examined him, told him he was only scared to death. He got up and left the field in double-quick time. I could tell you of a good many such ludicrous incidents.
CHAPTER VI THE STRATEGY OF THE BATTLE OF MANASSAS ON May 24, 1861, the day after Virginia ratified the Secession Ordinance, McDowell's army crossed the Potomac on three bridges. McDowell made his headquarters at Arlington, General Lee's home, and it should be recorded to his credit that he showed the highest respect for persons and property. One regiment of the New York Zouaves, commanded by Colonel Ellsworth, went on a steamer to Alexandria and landed under the guns of the Pawnee. A Confederate flag was flying from the top of a house which was owned by a citizen named Jackson. Ellsworth went up and pulled down the flag. As he descended the stairs, Jackson shot him and was himself shot by a Union soldier. On June 26, McDowell's total strength present for duty was 153,682 men and twelve guns; Patterson's was 14,344 men. Of McDowell's twenty regiments, seventeen were three months' men. With the exception of one infantry regiment, four companies of cavalry, and three artillery companies, Patterson's force was composed of three months' men. Johnston's force at the same time was 10,654 men and five or six batteries. General Lee had selected Manassas Junction as the point for the concentration of the Confederate troops on account of its being in connection with the Valley. Beauregard was in command here, while Jackson and Johnston with their forces were across the Blue Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley. On June 15, Johnston retired towards Winchester, because, as he said, Patterson's army had reached the Potomac twenty miles above, and he wanted to be in a position to repel an invasion of the Valley, or quickly to reinforce Beauregard at Manassas. Johnston thought, so he said, that Patterson was making a combined movement with McDowell, who was expected to move from Washington on Richmond. If so, Johnston at Harper's Ferry had the interior line and the choice of reinforcing Beauregard or striking Patterson. As Patterson hesitated, it showed that he was afraid to cross the Potomac with Johnston on his flank.
Colonel John "The Gray Ghost" Mosby (CSA)'s Timeline
December 6, 1833
Edgmont, Powhatan Co, VA
December 30, 1857
May 10, 1859
October 1, 1860
December 6, 1863
September 19, 1866
Warrenton, Fauquier, Virginia
July 20, 1869
Warrenton, Fauquier, Virginia
May 10, 1871
August 27, 1873
Warrenton, Fauquier, VA