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John Singleton Mosby


Mosby's Rangers

Famous as the commander of Mosby's Rangers, John Singleton Mosby was born outside Richmond, Virginia on December 6, 1833. Mosby attended the University of Virginia, however, having a propensity for violence, while there he was arrested and imprisoned for shooting a fellow student. During his trial, he became interested in the law, and subsequently pursued a career in law, and was admitted to the bar.

When the Civil War began, Morgan was still practicing law in Bristol, Virginia, and joined the Confederate service in a local cavalry unit. He first saw action at the Battle of First Bull Run, then joined Brigadier General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry as a scout. Later on during the Seven Days' Campaign, he was famous for his idea known as "Stuart's ride," around Major General George McClellan's Union army.

Using the advantages of the Partisan Ranger Law, he asked General Stuart if he could be permitted to form an independent command of his own. Allowed to do so, his first official act as an independent force was the raid into Fairfax Court House, Virginia, when he and his rangers captured Union Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton. For this and other related actions, Mosby soon became the scourge of the Union. Mosby's Rangers were so successful in northern Virginia that it infuriated the Union to the extent that General Ulysses S. Grant ordered that should Mosby be captured, he was to be hanged without the benefit of a trial.

During the Civil War Mosby's Rangers at its peak strength totaled about eight-hundred me. Usually, when they would raid, they used between twenty and eighty men, striking fast then disappearing when overpowered. John Mosby was wounded seven times in the war, and is mentioned the most out of all the officers in reports and orders from General Robert E. Lee.

Ironically, after the war, Grant became a good friend of Mosby's. Grant wrote that "there were probably but few men in the South who could have commanded successfully a separate detachment in the rear of an opposing army and so near the border of hostilities, as long as he did without losing his entire command."

An excellent cavalryman, Mosby prevented about thirty-thousand Union soldiers from reaching the front lines, saying that the cavalry was the strongest offensive weapon and could easily disrupt the enemy's plans.

When Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, Mosby returned to his law practice in Warrenton, Virginia only twelve days later. John S. Mosby died there on May 30, 1916.

Copyright 1993-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.