Colonel John Singleton Mosby




 

John Singleton Mosby was born in Edgemont, Virginia, on 6th December, 1833. He was a sickly child and the doctors told his parents that he would not live to be six years old. Fortunately, for the state of Virginia, they were wrong. Brought up near Charlottesville he entered the University of Virginia in 1849. At the University he was charged with shooting another student and was sentenced to a one year term. While in prison he befriended his prosecutor, started to study law, and after his release became a lawyer in Bristol.

On the outbreak of the American Civil War Mosby joined the Washington Mounted Rifles under William "Grumble" Jones of the Confederate Army. At first he served as a private in the 1st Virginia Cavalry and fought at First Manassas. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant in February, 1862, Mosby began scouting for James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart and was responsible for the ride around George McClellan in June of that year.

In January 1863 Mosby and a team of nine men began operating behind Union lines, raiding isolated Union Army posts in Northern Virginia and in Maryland. As captured goods were divided up between the men, Union officials regarded Mosby's men as criminals and bushwackers rather than soldiers.

On 10 June 1863, Mosby was given permission to organize Company A of the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry. The command, which soon grew to battalion size, became known as "Mosby's Rangers." Mosby became an expert in guerrilla warfare tactics and his partisan unit of 800 raiders was very active during the Wilderness campaign. Mosby and his men undermined the enemy's transport system by destroying rail lines, bridges, and supply trains.

In the spring of 1864 General Philip Sheridan sent out Captain Richard Blazer with a hundred scouts armed with Spencer carbines to hunt down Mosby and destroy his entire command. But on the 18th of November 1864 Mosby's men met, defeated and basically wiped out Blazer's Scouts at Kabeltown.

Mosby's military successes earned him promotions to captain, major and finally colonel in December, 1864. He is recognized by numerous historians as extending the war by several months because the Union had to hold back troops from Petersburg to guard the capital.

On news of the Confederate surrender, Mosby disbanded his Partisan Rangers and resumed his work as a lawyer. He upset many of his former supporters by joining the Republican Party, and backed Ulysses S. Grant for president in 1868.

Mosby served as U.S. consul at Hong Kong (1878-1885) and assistant attorney in the Justice Department (1904-10). He wrote two books about his war experiences: War Reminiscences by Colonel John S. Mosby (1887) and Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign (1908). John Singleton Mosby died on 30 May 1916 and is buried in Warrenton, Virginia.


 

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