JOHN W. MUNSON
MOFFAT, YARD AND COMPANY
Published October, 1906
JOHN W. MUNSON
MOFFAT, YARD AND COMPANY
Published October, 1906
WHO FOR THIRTY YEARS
A MOST PATIENT AND APPRECIATIVE LISTENER
THESE STORIES OF
Every man in Mosby's Command had ample material of which to make an interesting story of his experiences. Some of them have contributed portions of their recollections to the writer, who has unblushingly adopted them as his own, much in the spirit in which he was wont to appropriate whatever was contributed to him by the Yankees during the war.
He is positive, however, that he is welcome to use whatever matter they have sent him, for the same spirit prevails among the survivors today as when all were welcome to whatever each had in the days when they stood together to acquire it. In fact in war times the ancient doctrine of the Scottish clan prevailed in all things:
"For why? Because the good old rule
Sufficeth them; the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can."
If only a whisper could be got from some of the closed lips, or the stiffened fingers of the dead be
relaxed, these pages would be enriched beyond compare with now forgotten deeds; but those gallant
spirits have long ago told their stories to a Higher Critic, and I believe have met His approval. They will not be forgotten, however, in these chronicles, for there were few incidents worth recording in any story of Mosby's Command that did not include acts of uncommon bravery and valor.
In the following pages Mosby's men will sometimes be spoken of as Guerrillas, and their enemies as Yankees' in the same spirit in which these terms were used during the war. Mosby's men made the word Guerrilla honorable from 1863 to 1865, and no fair-minded Southerner can deny that the Union Army has made the world respect the word Yankee.
With a pardonable oversensitiveness some of the old comrades have objected to the use of the word Guerrilla, but they need not be offended nor fear disparagement; their fame is established· for all time. The men who fought them know what they were; and, after all, history is built upon facts. It is enough to know their old Commander never has objected to the use of the word Guerrilla, for he once wrote to the author asking to have an article written for the New York Herald which should deal with his old negro body-servant, Aaron, and to head it, "The Nestor of Mosby's Guerrillas." It would sound odd to a Mosby man if he habitually referred to his friends, the enemy, as the Federals or the United States troops or even the Union soldiers.
He knew them in the old days as Yankees, and as such he still remembers them; and moreover they are good enough Yankees for him, and it was not his good fortune to find many cowards among them. As far as possible I have arranged in chronological order the incidents making up the story of our career.
As they have come back to me, or have been communicated to ·me by my comrades, I have recorded them as nearly as possible in historical sequence; and if by chance the events are not always set down in, the exact order of occurrence, the essential accuracy, nevertheless, has been preserved.
No claim to historical adequacy is made for what is contained in this volume. It is the desire of the author to be just and accurate in all statements; the truth about Mosby's Command is always as interesting as fiction. Eventually a complete history of the Command will be written, and its author will be the only man capable of doing it justice; the only man who saw everything and remembers everything is John S. Mosby himself. The purpose of the author is to write the interesting reminiscence of the Command; something that will crystallize the atmosphere of patriotism and romance that enveloped these men and their deeds during the period of their action, not only for the time being, but for all future; something that will make the younger generation of men, and the boys who love to read about fighting, wish they might have lived in those stirring times to have been a part of such a daring and a merry crowd; something that may contribute to the records of the Civil War certain facts that might not otherwise be preserved.
It is to be hoped that this volume will give to future generations a glimpse of the character that made it possible for John S. Mosby, the greatest and most daring "Raider" this country has ever known, to organize, command, and lead to innumerable victories, ; the men and boys who became world-famous as Mosby's Guerrillas.
Acknowledgment is hereby made to the editors of Munsey's Magazine' for their courtesy in allowing the author to use, as a small portion of the present work, and in another form. the substance of a brief series of articles published in that periodical in 1904.
I. THE BIRTH OF THE RANGERS
II. JOINING THE RANGERS
III. How WE LIVED
IV. THE CAPTURE OF GENERAL STOUGHTON
V. THE FIGHT AT MISKELL'S BARN
VI. WARRENTON JUNCTION AND CATLETT'S STATION
VII. DRANESVILLE AND ELSEWHERE
VIII. A NARROW ESCAPE
IX. THE BERRYVILLE FIGHT
X. TURNING THE TABLES
XI. A CHAPTER OF PERSONALITIES
XII. AN UNPLEASANT EPISODE
XIV. I AM CAPTURED
XV. I ESCAPE
XVI. TRYING FOR BIG GAME
XVII. THE SUTLER
XVIII. THE CELEBRATED GREENBACK RAID
XIX. GLIMPSES OF GUERRILLA LIFE
XX. "THE CHIEF"
XXI. THE COLONEL'S SERIOUS WOUNDING
XXII. THE GUERRILLA'S LAST FIGHT
XXIII. THE BEGINNING OF THE END
XXIV. THE RANGERS DISBAND
(Moved to bottom of last webpage)
1.-PORTRAIT OF JOHN S. MOSBY TO-DAY
2.-COLONEL MOSBY IN 1863, IN THE UNIFORM OF A MAJOR IN THE CONFEDERATE STATES ARMY
3.-PORTRAIT OF JOHN W. MUNSON AT THE TIME OF HIS ENLISTMENT IN MOSBY'S PARTISAN RANGERS.
4.-THE HOUSE WHERE GENERAL STOUGHTON WAS CAPTURED IN 1863, SHOWING A GROUP OF MOSBY MEN.
5.-MOSBY PLANNING AN ATTACK ON A FEDERAL CONVOY.
6.-BARON ROBERT VON MASSOW
7.-MOSBY ATTACKING THE FEDERAL CONVOY AT BERRYVILLE.
B.-LIEUTENANT W. BEN. PALMER IN 1864
9.-ON THE PORCH OF THE HOUSE IN WHICH GENERAL STOUGHTON WAS CAPTURED, TAKEN IN 1904
10.-MOSBY AND A GROUP OF BALTIMORE GUERRILLAS IN 1865
11.-COLONEL MOSBY AND A GROUP OF RICHMOND MEN, PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN IN 1865
12.-RETURNING FROM THE RAID
13.-PORTRAIT OF LIEUT. COL. WILLIAM M. CHAPMAN, TAKEN IN 1865
14.-A RICHMOND GROUP IN 1865
15.-JOHN S. MOSBY AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE CIVIL WAR IN THE UNIFORM OF A CONFEDERATE COLONEL
16.-FACSIMILE OF MOSBY'S FAREWELL ADDRESS
A MOSBY GUERRILLA
THE BIRTH OF THE RANGERS
THERE were many regiments and brigades and divisions in the Confederate armies known only by their respective commanders' names; rarely by their numbers. Our little body of men was called Mosby's men, and Mosby's command, and this was largely due-to Mosby himself. He took great pride in speaking of us as " my men'" and " my Command," but never as " my battalion," or " my troops," or "my soldiers." The Yankees referred to us, as did also the Northern papers, as Guerrillas, in an opprobrious manner, of course, but the term was not applied to us in the South in any general way until after the war, when we had made the name glorious, and in time we became as indifferent to it as did the whole South to the word Rebel.
My story will cover, partially, our movements during the entire years 1863 and 1864, and that part of 1865 extending to the close of the war. I use the word, partially, because I could not hope to record all of the adventures that befell our Command in a work of much less dimensions than the Encyclopedia Britannica; and then only if all the old fellows would contribute all their recollections. These were the years when the Northern and Southern armies were most industriously occupied in the conflict that seemed to grow fiercest just before it ceased. I will endeavor to bring the reader as close to Mosby as I was during the struggle, and to relate, with as careful regard for details as is possible, the most stirring and interesting incidents which I can recall, referring but rarely to the ponderous documents that have been accumulating in Washington ever since Grant said" Let us have Peace."
John S. Mosby, around whom these recollections will be woven, was born in Powhatan County, Virginia, in 1833, graduated from the University of Virginia in 1852, was admitted to the bar in 1855, and practised law in Bristol, Va., until 1861. At the breaking out of the Civil War he joined the First Virginia Regiment of Cavalry as a private and later became its Adjutant, holding a Lieutenant's commission. He participated in constant and strenuous service before his connection with the Partizan Rangers began. That organization came into existence early in 1863, under a statute passed by the Confederate Congress as the Partizan Ranger ·Law, a statute said to have been framed by Major John Scott of Virginia! who tried unsuccessfully to put it into operation.
Other commands were organized under the same act, but Mosby's was the only one, with a single exception, that survived during the entire course of the war. In 1862 a reorganization and consolidation of many regiments in the Southern army took place, as graveyard gaps had to be filled up, and a number of commissioned officers were thrown out as a consequence.
When Fitzhugh Lee was made Colonel of the First Virginia Cavalry Regiment, Mosby resigned his commission as Lieutenant and Adjutant, and Lee accepted it. Finding himself once more in the ranks, he became attached to the headquarters of General J. E. B. Stuart, for whom he acted as a scout. His hour had arrived; opportunity knocked at his door and he grasped it. He knew he had found his proper sphere, and General Stuart was soon made aware of it. It was not very long before the Northern army also made the discovery.
Mosby's first notable scouting expedition - one without a parallel in the history of the war - consisted in making a circuit, entirely unaided, in the rear of General McClellan's army, which was lying in front of Richmond, in the early days of June, 1862. When Mosby proposed the daring feat to Stuart, the General at once gave it his hearty approval, for he seemed to know his man; but others made side remarks about the risk of one man's attempting such a feat and its almost certain failure.
When he returned from his expedition, during which he found it necessary to exercise all his energy and courage and ingenuity, he brought back a knowledge of the country and of the position of the enemy which enabled him safely to escort Stuart and his cavalry command over the same route. Thus it transpired that up to that time Stuart made the first and only recorded cavalry raid completely around an enemy's army; and Mosby rode in front of the column.
Mosby had no previous knowledge of the ground over which he made his first scouting expedition, and much of the route was covered in the night Federal soldiers were swarming around him in every direction and danger lurked in every step. of his way. The exploit pointed out the way to his military future, and General Stuart realized, perhaps as soon as did Mosby himself, that the route of the Raider was stretching before the young Virginian who mapped out the way around McClellan's forces.
There was no more picturesque, romantic nor gallant cavalry leader; no more typical, courageous soldier on horseback in either 'army, than" Jeb" Stuart; but I question if he could have duplicated or even originated Mosby's scouting expedition. Mosby was not only fitted for scouting, but he developed into a remarkable leader also, ,a statement which I shall try to do my best to demonstrate.
Mosby's first actual command of the Partizan Rangers began early in February, 1863, when General Stuart gave him a detail of fifteen men from his old regiment, the First Virginia Cavalry. His instructions were to take his little band into Northern Virginia and "operate inside the enemy's lines," as Stuart put it.
A Captain's commission was given him soon after. The step was an irrevocable good-bye to regular army life and to camps, bugle calls, drills and picket 'duty. It meant the abolition of winter-quarters and the end of idleness. There were to be no more rations, clothing, boots, nor equipment from the Government. Not a single round of ammunition nor a weapon for self defense. To "operate inside the enemy's lines" meant if necessary to cut off all communication with the lines that were friendly. It meant being in closer touch with Washington than Richmond, and not a man in Mosby's little band misunderstood the terrors that loomed before him. There was the earth for a couch, only the equipment with which each man started for protection, and the right to fight the enemy and, by sheer force, wrest from him the requisites with which to maintain the Command as a fighting force. Few who saw this first handful of men move into the wilderness, singing the songs of war, ever expected any part of it to return.
It is perhaps justifiable and reasonable, at this juncture, to state that Mosby's Guerrillas were not highwaymen, bushwackers or ruffians, and that they did not war upon any element other than that commonly recognized as the enemy. A very large percentage of them were well-bred, refined gentlemen and some of them had traveled widely; they regarded Mosby's Command as the proper channel through which to express their feelings on a subject that made action of some sort necessary. They were men of firm convictions, for which they were anxious to fight and willing to make sacrifices. One may derive a fair impression of them by looking over the roster of those who survived the war. They will be found in the various professions in all parts of the Union; many of them leaders in social, political and commercial life. That there were a few adventurers among them there is no doubt, but as a whole they will compare favorably with any other body of men North or South. Since the war not one of them has been known to do anything to bring discredit upon the old Command.
Dr. A. Monteiro, a very prominent physician and surgeon, of Richmond, Va., who was a surgeon of Mosby's Command during the last few months of the war, says in his published memoirs: "I am enabled to say, after three years of active field service in the regular army, that I have never witnessed more true courage and chivalry, or a higher sense of honor, blended with less vice, selfishness and meanness, than, I found during my official intercourse with the Partizan Rangers."
Mosby's original detail of a few men from the First Virginia Cavalry was the nucleus around which he built up the Forty-third Virginia Battalion of Cavalry, composed of eight companies at the close of the war, and at the last numbering, perhaps, six hundred men, of whom, owing to the large number constantly in prison or disabled, never more than about three hundred and' fifty were available for any raid. The battalion was regularly enrolled in the Confederate Army, and was subject to the same regulations, and protected by the same laws, that applied to the any of Northern Virginia, of which it was a part. Mosby made his reports to Generals Lee and Stuart and worked in harmony with them.
The particular' mission of the Partizan Rangers was to keep the Confederate Generals informed of the enemy's movements while "worrying and harassing" the Federal forces as much as possible. Every man in Mosby's 'Command understood that he was expected to follow his Commander without question, and the result was a blind unwavering faith in their leader. Mosby never asked a trooper under him to go where he would not go himself. This example spread itself and made its influence felt throughout the entire Command, and I recall an occasion where Lieutenant Ben Palmer, of Richmond, Va., who was only a boy, during a fight, ordered one of the men, Bob Jarman, to get down and open a gate so we might dash through it at the enemy. The man was shot down as he touched the gate. A second man, Ben Iden, was ordered to open it, and he also suffered a similar fate. Then it was time to show, by example, what it meant to command and to obey, and Lieutenant Palmer jumped down and opened the gate and, remounting his little grey thoroughbred, led the charge to a brilliant victory.
In after years I commented to the Colonel on our invariable willingness to go where he directed, without being in any way informed of the work to be done, or the purpose or the reason for it. "Munson," he replied, " only three men in the Confederate army knew what I was doing or intended to do; they were Lee and Stuart and myself; so don't feel lonesome about it." ·
Very soon after Mosby entered upon his career as a Partizan Ranger the fame of his exploits began to spread through both the South and the North. Each day the newspapers told of this daredevil Southerner. Sutler's trains and wagon trains were raided; bridges were burned; ammunition and arms and supplies were taken; pickets disappeared as if swallowed up by the earth; scouts and stragglers from the Northern army were plucked from the landscape by invisible hands and camps were raided and broken up. From a radius of fifty miles we began to hear of short, sharp and bloody engagements, and throughout Northern Virginia the cry echoed that "Mosby's men had been raiding" at this, and at that point. They seemed to have the power of striking at a half dozen places simultaneously.
In every Confederate regiment enlisted men began to . display an interest in Mosby's movements. To be transferred to his Command from any other force in the field was almost an impossibility. Desertion from the army to him he would not permit. He recognized every claim that the regular army had on its soldiers, and punished deserters with a quick return to their regiments, if needs be under special guard. The discipline of the regular army was a law unto Mosby J that was never broken. These restrictions opened opportunities to civilians and ex-officers, so that Mosby soon found himself surrounded by the pick and bloom of the South. His recruits were some of the very best blood the Confederacy had to offer on the altar of faith. There were young fellows just coming into manhood, some of them mere boys; retired army officers anxious to return to the field; an occasional foreign soldier of fortune; a titled adventurer here and there, a hotheaded patriot just turning the shady side of life and ready as any dervish that ever invited Maxim bullets in the name of Mohammed to kneel down and receive death for his beliefs.
What Mosby liked best was youth. He agreed with Napoleon that" boys make the best soldiers. There was in his Command a young fellow from Richmond, one John Puryear, handsome, daring, reckless, and actually frantic for fight all the time. Puryear had no admiration for cautious people, no sense of fear in his composition and not the slightest judgment in a crisis. All that he knew about war was what he gathered in each mad dash though the ranks of the enemy, with his long black hair flying in the wind and his revolver hot with action. He rode his horse like a Centaur, and no enemy ever existed that this boy would not engage hand to hand, hip and thigh. Nevertheless John Puryear lacked judgment, and the prospect of his acquiring it was extremely remote. After one of his most daring and brilliant rushes Mosby once said to him, "Puryear, I am going to make you a Lieutenant for gallantry."
Puryear swept his plumed hat in a bow that was royal in its grace.
"But," 'said the Colonel, "I don't want you to ever command any of my men."
Puryear, not the least abashed, but evidently conscious of the compliment, repeated his courtly salutation as if the leadership of Mosby's Command was being conferred on him. It was the Partizan Ranger's way of showing his appreciation for a brave man. Boy that I was at the time, I understood that Mosby wanted Puryear to fight for him, but not to think
What I have said of John Puryear will apply to fifty other boys of the Command. He was a fair sample of the younger element. When they were not fighting, they were generally playing. While on a raid they were as light-hearted as school boys at recess, and I have seen them chasing each other up and down the line of march oblivious of any discipline or of any approximate danger. It was fine sport for them to see how well a new recruit could ride, and this was ascertained by playing tricks on his horse to make the animal kick or buck.
One of our men had been shot in the mouth and his tongue healed with a big ridge on top, which made it quite an interesting organ. Every boy in the Command knew about this tongue of " B's," and often, when they were having fun on a raid, they would ride to him and offer to pay him if he would poke his tongue out for five minutes.
Mosby's correct estimate of men, his absolute freedom from jealousy and selfishness, his unerring judgment at critical moments, his devotion to his men, his eternal vigilance, his unobtrusive bravery and his exalted sense of personal honor, all combined to create in the mind and hearts of those who served him a sort of hero worship. Long before I ever set eyes on him I looked forward to the day when I would be able to take my hat off in his presence, and offer to follow him.
JOINING THE RANGERS
WHEN the Civil War broke out I had just passed fifteen years of age, and I spent most of my time wondering what it all meant. One Sunday in the early Spring of 1861, a report came to Richmond that the U. S. gunboat Pawnee was coming up the James river to attack the City. The whole population was worked up to a high pitch of excitement.
The Governor at once ordered out all the local troops. Dignified old citizens appeared on the streets armed and equipped with weapons that had upheld the cause of the colonies against the invasion of the British in the Revolutionary war. A schooner laden with pig-iron was ordered sunk in the channel of the river below the city. The local cavalry company of Richmond was mown as the Governor's Guard, and it was ordered to proceed down the river and capture the Pawnee and bring it up to town. The old Governor probably had an idea that it could be hauled out on the river bank like a skiff and brought to town on a farm wagon.
Military companies in those days each had one or two markers, boys who carried little flags and whose duty it was to run out in front of the company to a given point, and stand there like statues, while the company marched up to and around them. I went down the river road that Sunday afternoon with the Governor's Guard, as marker, and we slept out of doors for three nights, for the first time in our lives. The Pawnee did not pass Norfolk, and at last we marched back to Richmond, covered with the dust of the campaign. A boot-black offered to " shine" some of us, and he came near being mobbed for the indignity. Every grain of that dust was precious to its possessor; we had been to the front and were real soldiers at last, and not militia.
This was my first soldiering of the war, and I believe it was the first that was done in Virginia. Once in a while at night after that, when I was lying abed in Richmond all a-tremble for fear the war would not last long enough for me to get into it, the snarl of a snare drum would echo up and down the street, followed by the steady tramp of the regulars coming and going. It was tremendously alluring to me, as it was to every other boy living in that period. After a time, however, we became accustomed to seeing the men in grey and, as the country began to experience the agonies that grew out of the conflict, the romance faded out of the situation. Then it was that we began to hear about Mosby and his men. To my mind Mosby was the ideal fighting man, from the tip of his plume to the rowel of his spur. Stories of his wonderful achievements came into Richmond from every direction. Joan of Arc never felt the call to go to battle any stronger than I felt it to join Mosby. I had not any doubt of my desirability, and figured out that all the Partizan Ranger required of his men was willingness to get shot, as occasion might require, and sleep out of doors in all kind of weather. Accordingly I curbed my appetite and discarded all the comforts within easy reach, assuming that suffering, starvation and self-inflicted misery would in time season me to undertake the rigors of a campaign with the Rangers. Whenever any other information came in concerning Mosby's movements I added new discomforts to my daily existence, looking forward to the time when I could stand before my hero, whom I had never seen, and let him discover,
with his own eyes, that I was a seasoned man, no stranger to hardships, and altogether a valuable addition to his band of Guerrillas.
One day I got wind of his whereabouts. As a rule he was a hard individual to locate, although a great many men in the Union army were engaged in looking for him; on the other hand a great many of the same army found him when they were not seeking him, and were surprised to see him so unexpectedly. News that came to me from several sources made it pretty certain that I could locate him in upper Fauquier County, Va., near the Blue Ridge Mountains, about one hundred and fifty miles from Richmond. I had nothing else in my mind but to make my way to him and that as soon as possible. Horses were scarce and hard to get and, besides, my departure on horseback in any direction out of Richmond would have caused remark among my young friends, and aroused curiosity, and I was nursing my patriotic zeal in secret. There was nothing left for me to do but to set out ingloriously on foot.
In fitting myself out for the Guerrilla life, I figured on rapid physical development, and selected a dingy grey suit cut for a man about six feet tall. I also had my hair cut close and this added nothing to my favor. The blouse of my suit was a sickly yellow shade of grey, and it came down half way to my knees. I was perhaps the most unpromising looking candidate for military glory ever turned out of Richmond. For some reason that has never been satisfactorily explained, I had not so much as a pocket-knife for a weapon. A large crop of freckles spangled my sunburned face, and a retrousse nose that never entirely lost its tip shone red with fire gathered in the open air. I left Richmond under cover of night, fearful lest some inquisitive neighbor should see me making my initial dash for the front, a calamity that would have been tragic in case I should have the ill luck to be rejected by Mosby.
Ten days afterward, having passed through a country that was not too well supplied with luxury, I tramped into the foot-hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Markham Station, where Mosby and his men were supposed to be. Arriving late in the afternoon, it took about two hours of my valuable time to scout out their whereabouts. As a matter of fact anybody in that neighborhood could have directed me to him in five minutes after I arrived; but that did not seem the proper way for a prospective Mosby man to set to work. The Guerrilla leader was fresh from one of his successful raids, and the admiring country people were vying with one another to do him honor and to throw their homes open for the convenience and entertainment of his Partizans. I finally located him at the residence of Mr. Jamieson Ashby, a Southern sympathizer, with a large heart and a house always open to his friends; an old time Virginia gentleman, living in an old time Virginia mansion, and entertaining in the traditional manner.
Tired and footsore I came toward the building and, through the trees surrounding it, dimly saw some of Mosby's men moving around on the lawn and the wide veranda. Nervously I swept my eyes over the band in search of a big man with a showy uniform, a flowing plume and a flashing saber. Gradually there had come into my mind on my tramp from Richmond an ideal figure that seemed to represent Mosby. I associated him in my imagination with Generals Lee and Jackson and Stuart, and I am not sure that I did not liken him to Robin Hood or Richard Creur de Lion.
By the time I set foot on the steps leading to the wide porch I was beginning to be disappointed at my failure to see and recognize the tall commanding warrior whose leadership I burned to follow. Where was Mosby? Suddenly I felt a tug at my elbow and, in the hushed silence that seemed to almost smother me, I heard a voice saying, "There he is. Look! "
The moment I had longed for had arrived. I followed the direction of a finger that was thrust past my freckled nose, and the shock was something considerable. I beheld a small, plainly attired man, fair of complexion, slight but wiry, standing with his arms behind his back, talking quietly to one of his men. A military belt girded his waist, from which hung two Colt's army pistols. The visions of splendor and magnificence that had filled my mind were swept away. The total absence of visible might, the lack of swagger, the quiet demeanor of the man, all contributed to my astonishment and chagrin. He did not even strut.
I stood rooted to the spot, speculating as to whether it was best to engage him at close range, or to take the road back to Richmond. The raiment that flapped about my person began to expand, or possibly I was shrinking. The stalwarts grouped near Mosby, or sitting idly along the veranda, were not calculated to lighten the humiliation that was crushing me. They were fully up to the standard of ,the real live Guerrillas that I had come so far to see.
My eyes sought out Mosby again. What a pity I He had not grown an inch, nor emitted a single war whoop; and his voice was so low that not a syllable of his conversation reached me.
At this juncture Mr. Ashby appeared on the veranda, smiling, and announced that supper was ready, inviting Mosby and his men inside. They heard him and, one by one, disappeared indoors with alacrity. I learned later that the Guerrillas always carried their appetites with them on a raid, as well as elsewhere. Mosby was borne in with the rush, and I was left standing outside, with a confused idea that perhaps it would be necessary for me to start back to Richmond without even my supper.
" Come in, Sir, and sup with us, and you will have a chance to meet Mosby."
I looked up and saw Mr. Ashby standing in the doorway, extending his right hand in greeting, while his left pointed the way to the feast.
I lost no time in thanking him and accepting the invitation.
Whether it was by chance or intention I never learned; but Mr. Ashby placed me in a chair by Mosby's side. He was busily engaged upon the appetizing meal when I took my seat by him, and he did not notice me. From my position on his immediate right I saw only the profile of his face. It was as clean cut as a cameo, and the lips were straight and firm. His nose, with a slight suggestion of the eagle's beak, was finely chiseled. He was the smallest man at the table, weighing at that time about one hundred and twenty-five pounds, and was but a little more than five feet eight or nine inches in height.
Sitting by his side I measured our differences in build with my eye. I was nearly three inches taller, and weighed twenty pounds more than he. After what seemed to me an eternity, during which I did not eat a mouthful, Mosby appeared to realize that there was a human being, a stranger, beside him. He turned upon me suddenly, meeting my full glance. At that instant the secret of his power over his men was disclosed. It was in his eyes, which were deep blue, luminous, clear, piercing; when he spoke they flashed the punctuations of his sentence. He looked at me intently for at least half a minute, the expression in his eyes merging from searching inquisition into astonishment, and from that to amusement. He took in every inch of me, from my cropped head to the baggy trousers that disappeared under the table.
I had reckoned that the yellow blouse I wore would make a hit with him, but he displayed no perceptible interest in it.
When he spoke to me every man at the table stopped eating and looked in my direction.
" Who are you? " was his first question.
"John W. Munson," I replied, with a clumsy attempt at a salute.
" Where are you from? "
"What do you want?"
I keyed myself up to the grand declaration. "I want to join the Partizan Rangers under Mosby."
The sentence escaped from my lips with accumulating force, exploding with renewed energy at the conclusion. I expected to hear some laughter from the men around the table. Instead, however, they all took on a serious look, and gave me their close attention.
Mosby threw his arm over the back of his chair and continued.
" Are you equipped?"
" I have only my clothes," I answered.
In this particular I was somewhat over equipped, but I was woefully shy of arms and ammunition.
The full magnitude of my audacity now burst upon the guests at the Ashby table. One man whose chair was turned away from the table, and who had lighted a cigar (captured) began to laugh. Mosby turned upon him, and with one look silenced the disturber.
Of all the favors for which I am indebted to Colonel Mosby, none was ever more appreciated than this.
"Can you get a horse anywhere? " he resumed when quiet was restored..
"Certainly, sir," I answered with grave doubts as to my ability in that direction.
" All right; meet me at Blackwell's tomorrow morning at sunrise, and I will talk to you again."
He then returned to his meal and finished it in silence and, from any outward indication on his part for the rest of the evening, he completely forgot my existence. After this I proceeded leisurely with my supper, for I was not disturbed by a word addressed to me by anyone at the table. When we were finished and, one by one, the men went out of the house, I followed some of them to the stable, and found two of them saddling their horses. I asked them the way to Mr. Blackwell's, and learned that it was about ten miles distant. I did not want them to know that I was particularly anxious to get there, so I crawled into the hay-mow and went to sleep.
Long before daylight next morning I was awake and thinking of the horse that I had promised to secure. Striking out alone across the country, in the direction I had been told Blackwell's lay, I stopped at a. farm house about sunrise, and spoke to a farmer who was going towards his bam. I told him who I was and where I was going, and asked him if he could tell me where I could capture a horse. Looking at me in some surprise, and suspecting that I was joking, which I was not, for I would really have been a horse thief if I could have secured a good animal, he told me he had a horse to spare and would sell her to me on credit. This proposition struck me at the time as manna falling in the desert, and I gladly agreed to his terms for the purchase of his mare, and borrowed his saddle and bridle.
Not very long after sunrise I rode, well mounted, but perspiring, into Mr. Blackwell's yard, and greatly . to my astonishment found that Mosby and a few of his men had arrived there several hours previously.
I threw the bridle of my mare over the hitching post and, in addition, tied a good strong rope around her neck and fastened it to a tree nearby for fear she might get homesick, and strode into the house to announce my arrival. At that early day, only twelve hours after being ushered into the august presence, I began to feel my oats. Mosby turned and looked at me as I entered, and I think he recognized my yellow blouse or my freckled nose or possibly my reserve. In those days I had reserve. At any rate when I told him I had got a horse he smiled and put his hand on my shoulder as he asked me if it were a good one.
Somehow I got the idea that he thought I had been on a lone scout and captured it from some picket. Youth can be buoyant in imagination. At any rate I shall not forget his merry humor nor the twinkle in his eye. .
From that moment my clothes began to fit me better. I followed Mosby around the room and out on the porch and, after talking to him for ten minutes, somewhere or somehow a pistol came into my possession, with a belt and holster for it, and I was received into the ranks of the Mosby Guerrillas, all ready for action.
HOW WE LIVED
THE life led by Mosby's men was entirely different from that of any other body of soldiers during the war. His men had no camps nor fixed quarters, and never slept in tents. They did not
even know anything about pitching a tent. The idea of making coffee, frying bacon, or soaking hard-tack was never entertained. When we wanted to eat we stopped at a friendly farm house, or went into some little town and bought what we wanted. Every man in the Command had some special farm he could call his home.
The people in that part of the state which was designated "Mosby's Confederacy," embracing in a general way the counties of Fauquier and Loudoun, were loyal to the South, though frequently outside the lines of the Southern army, and they were glad to have Mosby's men among them, not only to show their sympathy with the South, but also to have the
protection which the presence of the Partisans afforded them.
During the war all local government in that country was suspended. There were no courts nor court officers. The people looked to Mosby to make the necessary laws and to enforce t.hem, and no country before, during or since the war was ever better governed.
Mosby would not permit any man to commit a crime, or even a misdemeanor, in his domain. One of our men, in a spirit of deviltry, once turned over an old Quaker farmer's milk cans, and when Mosby heard of it he ordered me to take the man over to the army, which was then near Winchester, and turn him over to General Early, with the message that such a man was not fitted to be a Guerrilla.
As a Command we had no knowledge of the first principles of cavalry drill, and could not have formed in a straight line had there ever been any need for our doing so. We did not know the bugle-calls, and very rarely had roll-call. Our dress was not uniform in make or color; we did not address our officers, except Mosby, by their titles; in fact, we did not practice
anything usually required of a soldier; and yet withal there was not another body of men in the army under better or more willing control of their leader. Two things were impressed upon us well, however; to obey orders, and to fight.
We carried no sabres, being in no manner familiar with the weapon's use. My keenest recollection of the value of a sabre takes me back to the time when a large curved blade, sheathed in clanking steel, was ,. brought in with some captured Union man. None of us dared swing it at arm's length, for fear of killing a neighbor, but we subsequently found it was a splendid
weapon with which to bat a refractory mule over the back. When a captured mule received the sabre treatment with the flat side, he forged ahead and stayed in front of the procession from that time on. The jingle of the steel against his sides or back seemed to frighten him more than all the black-snake whips in the Union army. Once only did I see this deadly engine of war in bloody action, and that was when young Emory Pitts of my Company playfully drove its point into the body of a Thirteenth New Yorker who had fired at him and then dodged under an army wagon to escape.
Contrary to a popular impression we did not carry carbines at any time during the war. Each of Mosby's men was armed with two muzzle-loading Colt's army revolvers of forty-four caliber. They were worn in belt holsters. Some few who could afford it, or who had succeeded in capturing extra pistols or who wanted to gratify a sort of vanity, wore an extra
pair in their saddle-holsters or stuck into their boot legs. These weapons were extremely deadly and effective in the hand-to-hand engagements in which our men indulged. Long and frequent practice had made every man in the Command a good shot, and each was as sure with. his revolver as every cow-boy is with his six-shooter. As a general thing our real
fights were fast and furious and quickly over, one or the other side withdrawing at a dead run when the pistols were empty. At the present time the question of discarding the sabre in the United States army is being discussed very generally by officers, and I believe before long they will be relegated to the museums and the junk piles. I received a letter from an officer of
one of the crack cavalry regiments asking me for a more extended opinion· of the sabre than I had expressed in my published reminiscences, and with hesitation, I told him how poor an opinion Mosby and his men had of the blade. I said that an Irishman with a shillelah in a close-quarter fight, would make "the average cavalryman ashamed of himself. I never actually saw blood drawn with a sabre" but twice in our war, though I saw them flash by the thousand at Brandy station.
The Federal cavalry generally fought with sabres; at any rate they all carried them, and Mosby used to say they were as useless against a skillfully handled revolver as the wooden swords of harlequins.. As the Mosby tactics became better known, scouting parties from the Northern army began to develop an affection for the pistol, with increasing success, I might add, in the later engagements. In stubborn fights I have seen the men on both sides sit on their restless horses and reload their pistols under a galling fire. This was not a custom, however, someone generally ran to cover after the revolvers were emptied. We both did this a good many times, but I believe, without bragging at the expense of truth, that we saw the
back seams of the enemy's jackets oftener than they saw ours. I attribute. this largely to the fact that we attacked them unexpectedly oftener than they attacked us .
Revolvers in the hands of Mosby's men were as effective in surprise engagements as a whole line of light ordnance in the hands of the enemy. This was largely due to the fact that Mosby admonished his men to never to fire a shot until the eyes of the other fellow were visible. It was no uncommon thing for one of our men to gallop by a tree at full tilt, and put three bullets into its trunk in succession. This sort of shooting left the enemy with a good many empty saddles after an engagement.
It has been said that we wore blue to deceive the enemy, but this is ridiculous, for we were always in the enemy's country where a Southern soldier caught dressed in a blue uniform would have been treated to a swift court-martial and shot as a spy. I never knew, nor did I ever hear, of any man in our Command wearing a blue uniform under any circumstances, and moreover I never heard of one of our men making any use whatever of a blue uniform or ever taking a blue uniform from a prisoner. We had no reason to use a blue uniform as a disguise and, in fact, never used anything for a disguise, for there was no occasion to do so. Many of our attacks were made at night, when all colors looked alike, and in daytime we did not have to deceive the Yankees in order to get at them. On the other hand the men who were known as " Jesse's Scouts" in the Northern army were always dressed in gray, and my experience with them justifies me in saying that they seemed to fully appreciate the risk of their disguise if they fell into our hands.
"Something gray" was the one requisite of our dress and the cost of it mattered little. Much of it was paid for by Uncle Sam out of the money we got from him directly and indirectly. Like gamblers we took chances with fate. We had ups and downs; but after our successful raids we were the best dressed, best equipped, and best mounted Command in the Confederate army. There were meek and lowly privates among us, of whom it might truly be said that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these. Union army sutlers supplied us with a varied assortment of luxuries, and I cannot recall an instance when we rejected what they had on hand on overhauling their stock, or when we threatened to take our trade to some competitor. If we wanted anything that we could not take by force of arms we sent North for it and paid for it with money that was not Confederate.
Some of the Command were extremely fastidious in the matter of dress and affected gold braid, buff trimmings, and ostrich plumes in their hats. After the "greenback raid" when we captured General Sheridan's paymasters with a hundred and seventy thousand dollars in crisp new Government notes, each man received as his share more than twenty-one hundred
dollars. The result was that all had clothes and accoutrements such as had never gladdened their hearts before. At all times, whether things went well or ill, the Guerrillas were as vain a lot of dandies as one would wish to see; blithe in the face of danger, full of song and story, indifferent to the events of tomorrow, and keyed up to a high pitch of anticipation; mingled with this was the pride that goes. hand in hand with repeated victories and the possession of spoils.
I was soon possessed with the desire for finery, and forthwith sent North by a sutler for gray corduroy with which to make a full suit, as well as the necessary gold braid, buff trimmings, gilt buttons, high top boots, gauntlets, a soft hat, and three ostrich feathers to match. I made up my mind to dress for the part if it took my last dollar, and such was the case, for when the goods and baubles arrived, I found that the honest merchant wanted about two hundred in cash from me. I made a few trades, juggled my possessions around a little, and got the money together, adjusting the account in a measure, by charging the sutler five dollars a pound for some tobacco that I happened to have, which he wanted badly. I was quite a swell for a time until the fellow who had laughed at me at Mr. Ashby's house, on my first appearance, tackled me one afternoon, and we both showed the effect of the argument.
Mosby encouraged the men in their vanities, although personally he favored the neatest and plainest of attire. Only when he came in touch with the Generals, which he did once in awhile, did he make any attempt at display in his dress. On these occasions he always wore a new suit of the best the tailor could procure, a red-lined cape, gold braid, and ostrich plume in his hat, as gayly as did his men. I have always believed that he did it for the purpose of impressing the regulars with the importance of his Partisan Rangers, in whom he took the greatest pride. He wanted the army to think, when they saw him in his finery, that he was a fair sample of the entire band. In a fight a conspicuous uniform, a waving plume, a flashing sabre, or a white horse, always attracted the fire of the enemy, and Mosby never went into a fight that his actions were not so conspicuous and his red-lined cape so prominently displayed that he drew on himself a concentrated fire. I believe he enjoyed such special attentions; not that he was reckless, for recklessness is not always bravery, but he was unconsciously brave,
and loved war for itself; it was never" Hell" to him, as it was to Sherman, but on the whole he rather looked on it as a sort of martial picnic. If he had lived in France at the time of the Empire he would have been a Field-Marshal. If he had been at Balaklava he would have led the Six Hundred. In his own little circumscribed fighting grounds,
Where'er wild war's sirocco breath
Its deadliest impress made,
And revelled midst its feast of death,
There flashed his battle blade.
or, more correctly, there flashed his smoking Colt, for he had positively no use for a blade of any kind.
Whenever we made a successful raid, we made it a point to repay the fanners and country people whose bounty we enjoyed, in live stock and supplies. The return from a sutler's raid was a holiday occasion, for everybody got something. On one occasion we captured about two hundred and fifty fat cattle from General Sheridan's supply train, and we gave our country
friends half of them, dividing them among all the people living within range. On one occasion, we got into some sutler's stores at Duffield depot on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the goods were so tempting that I concluded to carry an assortment back to our lady hostess and her household. I loaded up a sack with all sorts of useful and ornamental goods, and fastened it to my saddle securely. Then, going back into the store and looking around, I spied some hoop-skirts which the sutler had no doubt bought for some special order from an army officer's wife. I took these and strapped them to my saddle. Then I made another and final round of the store, and began stuffing my many pockets with notions, such as buttons, hair pins, thread, hooks and eyes, and the like; finally I found a lot of papers of needles, and I thrust a handful of these into my trousers' pocket. !
Just then some one poked his head into the door and cried, "The Yankees are coming."
We made a break for our horses and galloped away with our plunder, and our prisoners; _keeping up a pretty fast gait for some miles for fear our burdens. I would slacken the usual speed we practiced when were retreating. I had not gone a mile before my papers of needles began to come undone in my pocket, and at every jump of my horse a newly released needle would remind me that I had captured it, until at the end of our run I had dozens of needle marks on my anatomy, and two or three points were left inside, to work upward or downward, or out, as they severally saw fit. .
I recollect that I delivered all my presents safely to my kind friends, except needles, and I made no reference to these in my account of the raid. In all my later raids on sutler's stores I contented myself with things that were not likely to prove troublesome, or stick into me, such as boots, and gloves, and furnishing goods; but I ignored needles.
While there was more or less risk in sleeping in houses inside the enemy's lines, our losses were comparatively small from this cause, as our men were always on the lookout for the night raiding parties, who had learned that part of our tactics and were continually on our trail. We knew the country a great deal better than the Union soldiers did and, in time of danger, it was a simple matter to shift our quarters. Whenever there was an over-supply of raiders in the neighborhood we took our blankets or robes and slept in the woods or orchards or
fields till the danger was past. Mosby not infrequently slept alone in such places, but as he and I each had a fine buffalo robe it was my happy privilege frequently to snuggle up to him between these two robes, and "dream of battle-fields no more."
Mosby sometimes did his scouting alone, but generally he was accompanied by one or more men, selected because of their intimate knowledge of a certain part of the country. to which he was going. Under cover of the night he would move with the stealth that would have put an In n to shame. No sabre was ever worn on such a trip and if a spur or a curb chain
jingled it was taken off. A neighing horse would have been murdered on the spot. Our animals seemed to know instinctively that they must keep still; at any rate they always did so.
Mosby was the fastest "scouter" I ever knew, and in the saddle could cover a dozen objective points, over a course of fifty miles from sunset to sunrise, gathering information of vital importance at each halt.
He would send out messengers whenever necessary from any point wherever it seemed advisable to do so, regardless of the hour of day or night, or the proximity of friend or foe. I never knew one of his messengers to go wrong. No one ever heard of one of Mosby's dispatches being captured.
Horses, of course, were indispensable to Mosby's men. On whatever else we were obliged, or chose, to stint ourselves, it was necessary to have good horses. Nearly all the men kept at least two, and many of us who rode constantly had more. The work was too hard for one horse. I have known the Colonel to have eight at once, all of them fine animals, but generally half his stud would be temporarily disabled from hard riding or wounds. When we started on a scout or a raid, his old colored groom, Aaron, would take up from pasture one or two of his horses and begin to get them into shape for him by the time he returned. Thus he always had a fresh horse to depend on. Each man kept his horses at the farm-house where he made
his home, and there was not a barn or corral owned by our friendly allies that did not contain one or more of Mosby's cavalry horses, waiting to be saddled for a long, hard ride.
When a raiding party came through our neighborhood and the men were at their respective homes, each would mount a good horse and take the rest off to hide in the woods till the raiders passed by. If we happened to be away the farmers would hide our horses for us, and instances were not rare when the ladies and children of a household would do the kindly
Mosby's old negro, Aaron, was fanatical on the subject of his own importance, and had an unconquerable fear of the Yankees. He used to tell us when we chaffed him that it was not "Mars Jack " that the Yankees came up there looking for, but it was "Aaron," and that, if they could catch him and take him to Washington, President would have him handed around on a big silver waiter for all the people in the world to gaze at. The moment the report, or even the rumor, came to headquarters that the Yankees were coming, old Aaron would start off
with his horses for the mountains and we would not see or hear from him till after dark, when he would sneak in at the back door and ask the first one he met, "Is dey gone yet?"
Once, as a joke, Johnny Edmonds and I galloped into the barnyard where Aaron was currying one of the Colonel's horses and closed the big gate behind us.
We fired our pistols and yelled to him to look out for the Yankees. Without waiting an instant he mounted his horse bare back, jumped the gate and flew for the hills. At each jump we fired a pistol and yelled to him to stop, but he kept on and we did not see him again till next morning. He never quite forgave us when he found out the facts.
Aaron accompanied Mosby in the regular service before the Command was organized. There was a fight near Barbee's cross-roads in Fauquier county in which Mosby was engaged, and old Aaron accompanied him at an entirely safe distance, leading one of his extra horses. He sat down on the porch of an old house to listen to the noise of the firing, "sniffing the battle from afar," and waiting for his master to come back and give him orders. Suddenly, and without warning, a misdirected shell swept high over the old building and burst in the air, a part of it striking the roof and scattering splinters all over Aaron.
He jumped upon his horse, leading the extra and much needed animal, galloped away and did not stop, or make any perceptible slackening of his speed, until he reached the old Mosby plantation, about one hundred and fifty miles away. It was three months before he could be persuaded to return to the army.
When my captain, "Billy" Smith, was killed in January, 1864, I was anxious to possess his favorite horse and I purchased him from Mrs. Smith, but it was necessary for me to sell three pretty good ones of my own to raise sufficient money to pay for him. I never complained of the price, and was never sorry I bought him, for there was not a better known horse in Stuart's cavalry, nor a better war horse in the whole army. My captain had been orderly-sergeant of the "Black Horse" troop, and used to ride old " Champ" in the regular service; and from Stuart
down to the humblest private he was well and favorably known.
Norman Smith was killed while riding him in one of our fights, in August, 1863, and his brother, captain "Billy," was also killed on him in January, 1864. When the war ended I turned him over to a third brother, Captain Towson Smith, in whose possession he died. Sometime after the war, the captain wanted to drive to church, and hooked up old Champ to the family carryall and got into it. The old horse looked around at it and, with a far-away look in his eyes, apparently more in sorrow than in anger, kicked the old carriage into splinters.
On one occasion Colonel Mosby took me with him n a trip to Richmond and we stopped at General Stuart's headquarters, then in Orange county, and left our horses with him. His own horses were pretty badly used up and we asked him to ride ours in a fight which he was to have early the next day. When we returned a few days afterwards, the General asked me if I would put a price on Champ. I told him he would honor me by letting me give the old fellow to him, but he would not consent to such an arrangement; therefore, as he would not allow me to give him the horse and I would not let him buy, he reluctantly saw me ride back to Northern Virginia. He told me he had never enjoyed riding a horse in a fight as much as he did old Champ. The horse was absolutely controllable in the hottest sort of action, and never lost his head; but, as he had been badly shot twice, once in his head and the next time in his hip, he knew the sound of flying bullets and would shake his old head and apparently dodge when be heard them going by; but he did not know that dodging was unnecessary.
Mosby would send his men out in different directions on individual scouting trips with orders, perhaps, 'to meet him at a designated point fifty or more miles away. In this way he kept an eye on the enemy all around the circle and when, acting on one of his men's reports, he decided to strike a blow, he would take the necessary number of men with him or have them meet
him some point near the scene of the expected attack and, after verifying the man's report by his own actual observation, the trouble would begin. It was his constant care not to take his men into any place that he could not bring them out of, and they felt perfectly safe in following him. His instructions to the various detachments of his battalion frequently covered three days ahead, and the instances were very rare when he did not keep his appointments to the hour. He knew the theatre of war so well, and was so complete a master of his own work, that it was impossible to confuse him. He never lost his self-possession; never got rattled. If he could make a raid at midnight it pleased him greatly, as he held that sleeping men are easy to surround, and that it required at least five minutes for an awakened soldier to get into shape to fight. That is the explanation why so many of Mosby's performances were planned and came off at an hour of the night when most good people were in the land of dreams; it also explains how it frequently happened that our men attacked many times their own numbers. Seldom did Mosby return empty handed from a raid. On the march he was usually very quiet and uncommunicative; riding by himself a little ahead of the Command, apparently plunged in the consideration of some future problem, the germ of which had already begun to formulate in his brain. On a raid, however, when his mind was fully made up, he was. the gayest of us all, joking and laughing with the men and looking forward eagerly to the clash of arms.
On these occasions he would direct one of the boys near him to ride back down the line and bring Jim Sinclair to the front to tell us all about the confusion of the mule drivers; or to another one he would say, "Go back and ask Captain Bill Kennon to come up here and tell us a good lie. He can charm the birds out of their nests with his wonderful romancing.
Mosby never took anyone into his confidence. When he got an idea that he thought worthwhile, he immediately worked toward its development. I do not remember ever hearing anybody ask Mosby where he was going or what his plans were. One instance of his taciturnity will suffice. We met one afternoon in Upperville, Virginia, where the Colonel told Major Richards to take the Command to a designated place in Fairfax county and await his coming late that night. Turning to me he said: "Munson, get on your horse and come with me."
He was off at a trot. I followed him down the Little River turnpike and caught up with him, where we trotted and galloped, boot-leg to boot-leg, for twenty miles. Not once did he look at me, nor one word did he utter in all that ride. He was planning one of those sensational raids of his, which, before the next sunset, startled Washington, and kept the Federal commanders in a flutter for many days after-ward. I thought my tongue would become paralyzed , from long disuse.
Finally we drew up at a farm-house, where the Colonel reined his horse with the remark: "Let's stop here for a cup of coffee." His ideas had crystallized; and he was normal again. In that silent gallop he had planned a victory. Not long ago, he told a friend I of ours in New York, Mr. Frank Pemberton, that he liked to ride with me during the war because I did not talk.
Mosby maintained a discipline that was remarkable, considering the kind of men who made up his command and the character of the service. Young men, especially, chafe under too much restraint; yet he made rules that were never broken and established rewards which, when won, were as highly prized by his followers as the medal of honor by the heroes of
Austerlitz. He divided all captured horses by lot, among those who figured in the particular raid in which the animals were secured. Sutler's supplies, army equipment and personal property belonged to the man brave enough to take the risk of capturing it. Men who went alone, or in small groups, on scouting parties divided their spoils as they saw fit.
"To the victor belonged the spoils" was a satisfactory doctrine for Mosby, but during the whole war he never appropriated to himself as much as a halterstrap.
The very horses he rode and the old colored body-servant who accompanied him throughout the campaign, came with him from the Mosby homestead. Once only did I know of any departure from this strict rule of his independence, and that was an occasion when all his horses were in a bad way, and the men purchased and presented to him a splendid charger which had belonged to one of his officers. He protested a great deal, but the men insisted.
The men always assembled at a designated place to o on a raid, but it did not make any difference to Mosby where they disbanded when the purpose of the raid was accomplished. For instance, he would give notice to a few men whom he might meet, to notify a given number of the Command to meet him at a certain cross-roads, or blacksmith's shop, or a village.
If more of the men assembled than he wanted, he would dismiss such as he did not need, sometimes sending them on a scout under one of the officers, or letting them return to their homes; and, taking his force, would go on his raid. When the purpose was accomplished, he did not care how many of the boys left him, or what became of them, so long as enough
remained to take care of the prisoners and horses and bring them out safely. I have returned with him !from a raid that, covered two or three days of almost constant riding, only to be told to get ready to start on another expedition at once.
In such cases we would take a hurried bath, put on clean clothes, get a fresh horse from the stable, pocket a few extra cartridges, eat something if it was ready, and gallop away. I used to think it was glorious sport in those days.
Every affair in which Mosby and his men figured in had in it something novel, something romantic, something which is worth the telling; and many of those in which I took part, or with which I am at all familiar through the stories of others or the traditions of the Command, will be mentioned in the following pages. I would like to tell of some individual act of each man in the Command, and record the hundreds of brave deeds I witnessed or knew of, but I can only repeat what I once heard Mosby say when he was writing one of his reports to General Stuart. I said to him, when he told me he had put my name with three or four others, in his report of a fight, "Why don't you say something about -- and -- and ; -- and --?"
He replied:" I can't call the roll in every fight, Munson."
THE CAPTURE OF GENERAL STOUGHTON
THE only way I have of fixing the date of Mosby's first operations as an independent Ranger is his report to General Stuart, which is dated February 4, 1863, in which he says he arrived
in Fauquier county about one week previously and had been quite actively engaged with the enemy, capturing twenty-eight prisoners with their horses and equipments. He signed the report" John S. Mosby."
General Stuart endorsed the report on February 8, as follows:
" Respectively forwarded as additional proof of the prowess, daring and efficiency of Mosby (without commission) and his band of a dozen followers."
General Stuart made a little raid about Christmas time 1862, to Dumfries, and took Mosby with him. When he left there to go on to Fairfax he sent Mosby ahead and, when they reached Loudoun county and rested for a day before returning, Mosby got permission to remain there with nine, men of the First Virginia Cavalry. Among them was Fount Beattie who, from that day till the war ended was one of the best known men and one of the best men in the Command. He was Mosby's most intimate companion and friend, for they had enlisted together when the war broke out and were never separated.
With these nine men Mosby once went down into Fairfax county and in two days captured twenty Yankees with their horses. He took his men and prisoners back to Stuart's headquarters at Fredericksburg and the General was so pleased with the result of Mosby's experiment that he promised to let him go back again with fifteen men. This really was the beginning of his Partisan career, for later when he started North with his fifteen men he never again went back to regular army life. These fifteen men were not members of Mosby's Command for, shortly after he took them, some were ordered back to their regiment. The fact is that, strictly speaking, Mosby, had no Command of his own until June 13, 1863
when he organized his first company, "A". Up to that that time the men he had in all his brilliant engagements were volunteers. He utilized every man who came to him. A hospital at Middleburg served him as a recruiting station. The convalescent men, some of them on crutches, others bandaged and patched up in other ways, would go with him on a raid, make
havoc among the Yankees, and return to the hospital and get into their beds. When the raiding parties who followed Mosby up to that part of the country would see these poor wounded rebels in their beds in the hospital. they never suspected them of being " Guerrillas pro tem." On February 27. Mosby had twenty-seven of these new recruits with him in one of those Fairfax county raids, and although the post he attacked was defended by a force of fifty cavalrymen, he captured five men and thirty-nine horses. He killed the lieutenant commanding, and three of his men.
Out of these early volunteers a number remained permanently with Mosby and became actual "Mosby men," but until his first company was formed he never could count, with any degree of certainty, upon any given number of men responding to his call for a meeting. Many of his volunteers were dismounted cavalrymen from Stuart's division who came over to
Mosby to get horses and who returned to their regiments after the horses were secured and he never saw them again. At every meeting held for the first few , months of his Partisan career entirely new faces would appear ready for the fray, and most of those with which, in a measure, he had become familiar on previous raids would be missing.
One of the first men of any importance to join him was John Underwood, a native of Fairfax county. , Two of John's brothers, Sam and Bush, joined him later and served with him to the end of the war, but John .was killed a few months after becoming a " Guerrilla."
These Underwoods knew that country better than the wild animals that roamed over it by night or by day, and they were Mosby's guides on many of his scouts and raids and never led him astray. By night or by day any of these boys could thread his way through any swamp or tangled forest in Fairfax county, and personal fear was a thing unknown to them.
Another early recniit was Billy Hibbs, a blacksmith of Loudoun county, who had two grown sons in the regular army. By general consent he was known throughout the entire Command as "Major" Hibbs, a title bestowed on him in a joke by Mosby who, however, had great respect for the" Major's" loyalty and courage and ability. Another early acquisition was
Dick Moran Mosby used to say that these few men actually started his Command into being and that the real recruits came to his standard only after it bore their names.
Not before the capture of General Stoughton was the first affair of importance which Mosby accomplished in his career as a Partisan 'Ranger," is it recorded here but because the name of Mosby inevitably couples itself with the event. It was typical. While many other of his exploits far exceeded it in importance to our side and in loss to the enemy, there was nothing in. boldness or originality which surpassed it during the entire war; nor did anything reflect more credit on the little Command or create any more notoriety than his capture. It seems to me that this exploit gave Mosby more deserved fame than any single achievement of any officer or Commander in either the Northern or Southern army during the war, and I desire to tell it more in detail than do the official records.
The following official report, which is given verbatim, of the United States Provost Marshal at the Post, makes a good preface for my story. His report is much more accurate than was usual under such circumstances, and the exaggeration of our number from thirty to three hundred, was not at all an exceptional case.
PROVOST MARSHAL'S OFFICE.
FAIRFAX, C. H., Va., March 10, 1863.
Colonel Wyndham, Commanding Cavalry Brigade and
SIR: On the night of the 8th instant, say about two, or half past two, A.M., Captain Mosby, with his Command, entered this village by an easterly direction, then advanced upon my outer vedette, when he challenged (no countersign out). The rebel picket or scout advanced presenting at the same time two revolvers to his head and threatening to blow his brains out if he said a word, demanding his arms, etc., when the force came up and captured every man on patrol, with horses, equipments, etc., until reaching the Provost Marshal's stables, when they halted and entered the stables, taking every horse available with them. They then proceeded to Colonel Stoughton's stables, captured his guard, took his horses and those of his aides; they then proceeded to Colonel Wyndham's headquarters and took all the horses and movable property with them. In the meantime others of Captain Mosby's command were despatched to all quarters where officers were lodged, taking them out of their beds, together with the telegraph operator, assistant, etc., etc.
They searched the Provost Marshal's office, and finding him absent went to the post hospital and there made diligent search for him, offering a reward for him. The Provost Marshal had just left the street, say ten minutes before they entered, and went across some vacant lots to ascertain from one of his vedettes if he had caught any horses or horse thieves. Another
party ten in number, proceeded to Colonel Stoughton's headquarters, taking him and one of his aides named Prentiss, who afterwards escaped prisoners. They then proceeded to Colonel Wyndham's headquarters and took Captain Barker of the Fifth New York Cavalry, and also Baron Vardner, who was stopping at the Colonel's. In the meantime another party of them entered the residence of Colonel Johnston and searched the house for him. He had, previous to their entering the town, heard of their movements, and, believing them to be the patrol, went out to halt them, but soon found out his mistake. He then entered the house again, he being in a nude state, and got out backwards, they in hot pursuit of him. He, however, evaded them by getting under a bam and had scarcely concealed himself when a guard of three men were placed upon it. It is supposed that they entered our lines between Frying Pan and Herndon Station, taking a diagonal course to come";n at the lower end of the village. On leaving they went out by way of Colonel Wyndham's stables (southwest) and proceeded towards Centreville, cutting telegraph wires as they went along. I am told by parties who had seen them that they were some three hundred strong.
I have the honor to remain,
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
LIEUT. D. L. O'CONNOR,
The following are some of the details, and I am indebted for them to Mosby's report of the affair to General Stuart, in the Confederate War Records, to his account of it, written many years ago for publication, and to the traditions of our Command, which are the priceless heritage of all its members.
Mosby started on his Partisan Ranger career early in February, 1863, with fifteen men not members of his Command, for he had no Command. They were members of his old regiment, the First Virginia Cavalry, and were loaned to him by General Stuart. On the twenty-fifth of the month, a deserter from the Fifth. New York Cavalry, then stationed at or near Fairfax Court House, named Ames, came up to join Mosby. Little attention was paid to him by any of the men except by Walter Frankland, who had no horse, and who had joined Mosby a few days previously. Ames told Frankland he could lead him back to his camp at Germantown and get horses for both of them and, on the twenty-eighth they started on foot for the camp, reaching
it at midnight on the night of March first.
They entered the camp, talked to the sentinels and, in their presence, saddled two of the finest horses and came back safely to their starting ·point. One week afterwards, Mosby took his little Command of only twenty-nine men and, with Ames as guide, started from Aldie in Loudoun county, to enter the camp at Fairfax Court House. What will be difficult for the general reader to believe is that Mosby, from the first meeting with the deserter Ames, had confidence in him and used him to pilot himself and his little band into the very jaws of the enemy, not communicating his intention of going to the commanding General's headquarters to any of the men except to Ames. I have already spoken of Mosby's correct estimate of men and of his unerring judgment in critical moments. This case of Ames was an illustration of it, for he proved worthy of Mosby's confidence, became one of the safest and best soldiers in our Command, was later made a Lieutenant for gallantry and efficiency, and was finally killed in a fight at close quarters.
At the time Ames came to him, Mosby had already determined to make a raid on Fairfax Court House for he had gathered information to warrant it, and this Ames verified. This was only a month after Mosby had started upon his career as a Partisan Ranger and at the time he had made only a few experimental dashes at the enemy. Here was a very serious proposition to tackle. Fairfax Court House was invested and surrounded by thousands of soldiers - infantry, cavalry and artillery. At Centreville a few miles away there was a brigade of mixed troops with heavy artillery in the works. Another brigade of cavalry was located near Fairfax Court House on the pike. I The adjacent railroad was heavily guarded and cavalry outposts completely encircled the town for miles, extending to the Potomac river. The headquarters were girdled with soldiers. There was only one weak spot in the entire line of outposts, and that was weak only in comparison with the rest. No man could have passed through any part of the lines by daylight, without being seen by hundreds of Union soldiers.
Mosby knew where that weak spot was and, after midnight, in a darkness so intense that he could hardly see a man ahead of him, took his twenty-nine men through it. Not until he was within the lines and almost at the headquarters of the officers, did he tell his men what he was doing and where he was going.
At that early day there was already grounded in them the blind faith in their leader which continued until the end of the war, and which with me continues to this day. Just before reaching the headquarters he explained the situation to one of his men, Hunter, and touched upon its danger. The little band rode into the town and stopped at the Court-House Square, challenged now and then by a picket who was immediately quieted, and still they did not know what the program was nor where they were.
The men were divided into squads, each with its separate duty to perform. Some went to· the stables to get the best horses; others to the officers' quarters to capture them; all of them with orders to return to the square when their allotted tasks were completed. General Stoughton and Colonel Wyndham, the latter commanding the cavalry, were the principal game
sought by Mosby. He had been annoying the troops about Fairfax in the few weeks he had been operating in that country, and Wyndham had sent him some impudent messages. Mosby was anxious to take him out of his bed, but the Colonel had gone by rail to Washington the afternoon before, and so Mosby missed him. When Ames with a few men went to Wyndham's quarters and found that the bird had flown they stripped, his apartments of all his valuable effects and took all the fine horses in the stables. It fell to the lot of Ames to capture his former captain, Barker, of the Fifth New York. What the feelings of a deserter under the circumstances were must be left to the imagination, but he treated his old superior with great respect and deference, and took special pleasure in presenting him to Mosby.
While the men were scattered about the town performing their respective tasks, Mosby, with a few men, had looked up Stoughton's headquarters and knocking at the door they were admitted by an officer, Lieutenant Prentiss. Mosby took him gently by the collar and, in a whisper, ordered him to show him where Stoughton was. On reaching the
General's room that officer was found asleep in bed and, as time was precious, Mosby unceremoniously woke him up by spanking him on his bare skin. The General was properly horrified at such a liberty and, when asked if he ever heard of Mosby, quickly answered, " Yes; have you got him?"
Mosby replied, " No, but he has got you."
The General was made to dress in a hurry and, with his aide, Lieutenant Prentiss, taken down stairs and outside where two of our men were waiting, having in the meantime taken a lot of seven couriers and their horses. He was given special instructions to guard the General at all hazards, and the little squad started toward the Court-House Square which was the rendezvous for the whole band. All the squads had done their allotted work well and Mosby started off with one hundred prisoners and horses. In the darkness a few of the prisoners escaped. Passing a dwelling in the town the men were halted by a voice at a window inquiring, in an authoritative tone, who they were. Two of Mosby's men, Joe Nelson and Welt Hatcher, were sent into the house to bring the man out, but he took the alarm and escaped by the back door in his night-shirt.
It was Colonel Johnson, of the Fifth New York, and it was said that he hid under the floor of a house-in the garden. In the morning he got his men together and started in pursuit of Mosby but took , the wrong direction.
To get his men out of the trouble into which it had been so easy to get, was now Mosby's care, for he always looked after that part of his exploits. The troops in the town were apprised of his presence, but each man of them seemed to be looking out for himself, and there was no concert of action. Mosby started towards Fairfax Station to throw his pursuers off guard, and then suddenly turned off towards Centreville. To pass that point meant a great deal to him.
The heavy guns looked down frowningly on him only a few hundred feet away, and the sentinels on the works, with " Who goes there? " halted him as he passed under them; but he made no reply. Silently the little troop passed along by the big guns of the forts with their prisoners, and vanished into the darkness. Captain Barker made a dash towards the fort but was shot at by one of the men and recaptured, just as his horse fell into a ditch. One more serious danger confronted Mosby. Cub Run, just beyond Centreville, was overflowing. Back
of the little band was the fort with its brigade of soldiers, soon to be, if not already, alarmed; in front of them a raging torrent. There was not an instant of hesitation but, plunging into the mad stream, the whole party swam safely across, though many were carried down stream with the current. Once on the other side pursuit seemed impossible and, as the sun rose above the eastern horizon, Mosby breathed his first sigh of relief. Even at that hour he knew he had graven his name in history never to be effaced. He had performed another feat entirely new in the annals of war and one that has never been repeated. In time he reached Culpeper Court-House and turned his prisoners over to General Fitzhugh Lee, who was a class-mate of Stoughton's at West Point.
On the Federal side the result of this brilliant affair of Mosby's was the early resignation of Stoughton from the army. His reputation was gone. A General must not be captured in his night-shirt. Colonel Percy Wyndham was relieved and his successor, failing to wipe out Mosby, was soon transferred. Colonel Johnston soon retired from army life. On the other hand General Stuart issued the following General Order, and Mosby, about a month later, was promoted to a Majority.
Captain John S. Mosby has for a long time attracted the attention of his Generals by his boldness, skill and success, so signally displayed in his numerous forays upon the invaders of his native state. None know his daring enterprise and dashing heroism better than those foul invaders, though strangers themselves to such noble traits.
His late brilliant exploit, the capture of General Stoughton, .U. S. A., two captains, thirty other prisoners, together with their arms, equipments and fifty-eight horses, justifies this recognition in General Orders.
The feat, almost unparalleled in the war, was performed in the midst of the enemy's troops, at Fairfax C. H., without loss or injury. The gallant band of Captain Mosby share the glory
as they did the danger of this enterprise, and are worthy of such a leader.
J. E. B. STUART,
The Chantilly fight, which occurred on the twenty-third, scarcely two weeks later, while Mosby still had only these migratory volunteers with him, was as well conducted as though it were the work of veterans. He had gathered about fifty of them together and taken them down into Fairfax county to "do something."
His previous attacks had so aroused the camps in that ! part of the country that everyone was on the lookout for him. He tried to get through their lines into their rear, in order to surprise them, but they were too wide-awake. The men he had with him wanted to I fight, but they were more eager to capture some horses. The magnet of spoils attracted every man to Mosby's
standard in that early day. Sweet is revenge, especially to women; Pillage to soldiers, and prize-money to seamen.
Rather than disappoint his men by returning home he concluded to try to draw the enemy out on the pike and trust to getting a running fight. He sent a few men out in sight, and the ruse was successful. They drew in the pickets and were immediately chased back up the pike, in which several of them were killed and captured. The noise of the firing brought out the reserves, and Mosby hurried over to head them off and prevent being cut off himself, for he knew re-enforcements would soon arrive. He retreated up the pike in a trot, and was followed by the Fifth New York. When he came to a little piece of woods he halted his men and faced his pursuers. Just as they came in sight he ordered a charge and his men dashed into them. Utterly astonished and confused, they turned and, rushing back down the pike, ran into their re-enforcements, who in turn also retreated. It was a senseless, inexcusable rout, for they were four to Mosby's one.
His men never questioned the safety or the danger of the charge: Mosby ordered them to charge an attacking force, and that order was sufficient, for they had seen him win in every affair in which they had been engaged and they believed he could do no wrong. He never stood still and accepted an attack. His men chased the flying enemy several miles, leaving a number
of killed and wounded in the road, and bringing out thirty-six prisoners and fifty horses. His men were happy, for there was a horse for each man; and Mosby was the happiest of all, for his little band, to a man, had behaved gloriously, and he had not lost one. " Major" Hibbs was uncontrollable in his joy and, to emphasize it, Mosby publicly proclaimed him the hero of the fight," in the presence of all the men, and gave him a fine horse as a reward. By turns he laughed and cried and finally he said: " Well, Captain, I knew the work had to be done, and that was the only way to do it."
When the affair was reported to Stuart, he sent back this reply:
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY DIVISION,
ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, March 27th, 1863.
CAPTAIN: Your telegram announcing your brilliant achievement near Chantilly was duly received and forwarded to General Lee. He exclaimed upon reading it: " Hurrah for Mosby! I wish I had a hundred like him." Heartily wishing you continued success,
I remain your obedient servant,
J. E. B. STUART,
Captain John S. Mosby, Commanding, etc. .
No man was prouder of Mosby's achievements than General Stuart. Not two months before that time Mosby the scout had left headquarters with a little handful of borrowed men on a dangerous experiment. Now he was a Captain and a proved success as a leader. Stuart took part of the credit for making it possible to develop such a raider.
THE FIGHT AT MISKELL'S BARN
T HE capture of General Stoughton so early in Mosby's career as a Partisan Ranger whetted the appetite of the people for more of his brilliant achievements and when, three weeks later, they heard of his fight at Miskell's bam, there was no limit to their amazement and enthusiasm. Like the Stoughton affair it was never repeated for he never permitted the possibility of it to occur again. It took place on April I, 1863, appropriately enough, for it proved to be a sad April fool joke upon the enemies who had planned Mosby's capture.
On the previous day Mosby, at that time a Captain, had been scouting through Fairfax and Loudoun counties with his men, arriving at Miskell's farm near Dranesville at ten o'clock at night, tired, hungry and utterly exhausted. Supper was eaten by some of the men fortunate enough to get it, and the horses were unsaddled and unbridled and tied, some in the barn,
and others to the fences that surrounded it. The men tumbled in upon the hay and under the eaves outside the barn, falling asleep instantly. Not one of the horses was saddled or bridled, and the thought of fighting was far from all.
Early the next morning some of the men noticed the Federal troops across the Potomac river signaling and called Mosby's attention to it. It is strange that a Command usually so alert should have been taken so completely by surprise, but it is true that before Mosby could express an opinion about the signals, Dick Moran, one of our men who had been in the neighborhood with friends and who was doing a little looking out on his own hook, galloped into the barn-yard, yelling at the top of his voice, " Mount your horses; the Yankees are coming."
Moran's voice served to awaken some of the men who were still sleeping when the alarm came. Before they could arouse themselves or throw a saddle on a horse, in fact before most of them had lifted their weary heads from the ground, two hundred of the First Vermont Cavalry, under Captain Flint, charged through the farm gate which opened into the road and surrounded the bam-yard, pouring their fire in volleys into Mosby's men. It looked as though the light and life of the Guerrillas must be swept from the face of the earth. Never before or
after had the Federal troops such another chance to secure Mosby and wipe out his men. They were three or more to his one, and they had him corralled in a perfect trap, as perfect as they could possibly have made it. The first shots brought every member of the Command out of the barn half awake, wondering what had happened.
In an open space in the bam-yard stood Mosby on foot: in each hand holding a smoking Colt. As soon as a handful of his men gathered around him he ordered them to mount and "Charge 'em: charge 'em, and go through 'em." A movement of his hand indicated that he did not care just where the charge was made, only that he wanted his men to get into the open
where he could handle them. He made no reckoning of the numbers of the enemy; he gave it no thought; he only knew that he and his men were in a trap and he did not intend they should be murdered like a lot of sheep in the shambles, if grit and ammunition held out. Na thought of the disparity in numbers nor of their apparently desperate situation checked the impetuosity of the little band for an instant. They knew only one word: "Fight." The next instant Mosby was in the saddle. Harry Hatcher, seeing him on foot, insisted on giving up his horse, which Mosby at once mounted; and the Mosby yell to which no person has yet been able to do full justice, rose on the wings of that memorable morning.
Under the furious fire of the Vermonters most of the men saddled and bridled their horses, and mounting them, made a dash for Captain Flint's men. Like an avalanche the Guerrillas, with Mosby at their head, rushed through the barn-yard gate and into the thick of the enemy, plying their revolvers with deadly effect. Every shot seemed to drop a Yankee from his saddle, so fast did they fall. In the panic that followed Mosby's unexpected and audacious countercharge, Flint's men retreated to the gate leading into the turnpike and became jammed in a mass at the exit. Most of Mosby's men, being mounted by this time, poured a withering fire into the struggling, cursing, howling mob packed at the gate. When an opening was made Flint tried gallantly to rally his troopers but fell mortally shot in the effort, his body pierced by six bullets; fitting tribute to his courage, and evidence of the Mosby tactics, which always was to try to kill the man in command .
Nothing could now gather the remnant of the panic-stricken troop together, and the rout began. Mosby following some of the flying Vermonters for miles down the pike, while others scattered in different directions.
By all the rules of war, Flint's men, numbering more than three to Mosby's one and completely ,surprising him, should have annihilated his entire force. The Rangers were completely entrapped in a corral with only one exit; not a single man with the exception of Dick Moran was mounted, and most of them were asleep. Notwithstanding these facts one sentence sums up Mosby's report, the report of a : miracle. " Our loss was four men wounded; one of whom died later." The enemy's loss required more space in the report in summing it up as follows:
"Ten killed and fifteen mortally or dangerously wounded and left on the field and counted by us. Eighty-four prisoners and one hundred horses captured; among the prisoners a number were found to 'be wounded."
William H. Chapman, who afterwards became Lieutenant-Colonel of our battalion and second in command to Mosby, was a volunteer that day. He held ;a commission as Captain of artillery and was in our part of the country on recruiting service. He was one of the first to get into action although he had to rush from the farm-house to the barn to saddle his horse. Through the cracks in the bam he could see the Yankees surrounding the side of it and, though the temptation to pick off a few of them was great, he thought Mosby's men should put on a bold front, and, accordingly he mounted and galloped out of the barn, and with a few others who were mounted, dashed through the gate which was held open by John Farrar,
who was on foot.
He was in the midst of the fray immediately and encountered his first man at close range. The pistols were not a foot apart. The Yankee's pistol snapped but Chapman's did its deadly work. He fired six shots and emptied five saddles. On one occasion I begged him to tell me about that fight. He had nothing to say about his own behavior, and I was forced to hear it from others. Explaining Flint's awful mistake and the poor showing his men made under fire, he said, however, that our men were fresh from a good night's sleep on comfortable, sweet smelling hay, while Flint had been marching all night, from Dranesville to Miskell's in the face of a coldwind, which was so benumbing that some of the men, could hardly use their pistols. Chapman should have been named Charity. Our men were probably just as numb when they woke up that morning as were Flint's, and if the cold night had not made them so the sight of
that crowd of blue-coats around the barn-yard fence was enough. Furthermore, Mosby had given his men a march of forty miles the day before through mud and snow and slush, and a night's rest had done very little to restore them to their normal condition.
Sam Chapman, a brother of William H., was another conspicuous figure in the fight at Miskell's barn. I can not refrain from inserting here an extract concerning him, from Colonel Mosby's pen:
"There was with me that day a young artillery officer, Samuel F. Chapman who, at the first call of his state to arms, had quit the study of divinity and became, like Stonewall Jackson, a sort of military Calvin, singing the psalms of David as he went into battle. I must confess that his character as a soldier was more on the model of the Hebrew prophets than the ApostIes,
or the Baptist in whom he was so devout a believer.
Before he got to the gate Sam had already exhausted every barrel of his two pistols and drawn his sabre. As the fiery Covenanter rode on his predestined course, the enemy's ranks withered wherever he went. He was just in front of me. He was generally in front of everybody in a fight. At the gate, it was no fault of the Union cavalry that they did not get through any faster than they did, but Sam seemed to think it was. Even at that supreme moment in my life, when I had just stood on the brink of ruin and had barely escaped, I could not restrain a propensity to laugh. Sam, to give more vigor to his blows, was standing straight up in his stirrups, dealing them right and left with all the theological fervor of Burly of Balfour. I made him a Captain for it."
On the following day United States troops were sent up to Miskell's to bury the dead and gather up the wounded. A hospital was established there to care for those who were so seriously injured that their removal was impossible. The surgeon reported to Washington that a large number among those who escaped were found to have wounds.
Major General Julius Stahel, U. S. A., commanding a cavalry division, in reporting this fight to Major-General Heintzelman, wrote as follows:
" Captain Flint took his men through the gate and fired a volley at Mosby and his men, doing slight damage, and then ordered a sabre charge which was also ineffectual. Mosby waited until his men were checked by the fence, and then opened his fire on them. The men here became panic-stricken and fled precipitately towards the gate through which to make their escape. The opening was small and they got wedged together.
A fearful state of confusion followed, while Mosby's men followed them up and poured into the crowd a serious fire. I regret to be obliged to inform the Commanding General that the forces sent out by Major Taggart missed so good an opportunity of capturing this rebel Guerrilla. It is only to be ascribed to the bad management on the part of the officers and the
cowardice of the men. I have ordered Colonel Price to make a thorough investigation of the matter, and shall recommend those officers who are guilty to be stricken from the rolls."
Mosby reported the affair promptly to both Generals Lee and Stuart, and General Lee issued the following order:
HEADQUARTERS, April 4, 1863.
MR. PRESIDENT: Major John S. Mosby reported that he was attacked early on the morning of the 1st inst., near Dranesville, by about two hundred Vennont Cavalry. He promptly repulsed them, leaving on the field twenty-five killed and wounded, including three officers, and brought off eighty-two prisoners with , their horses, arms and equipment. His force consisted of sixty-four men, and his loss was four wounded.
I had the pleasure to send by return courier to Major Mosby his commission of Major of Partisan l Rangers, for which I am obliged to your Excellency.
I am with great respect
Your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General.
To His Excellency, President Davis,
President Confederate States of America.
At the time that this fight occurred Mosby had not
jbeen quite two months engaged in Partisan Ranger warfare, but he had amply demonstrated to his Generals that he was the man for this peculiar work. Two such achievements as the capture of Stoughton, and the victory at Miskell's, with a mere handful of newly acquired men and within three weeks of each other, stamped him as a phenomenal leader; a man with magnetism to attract to himself the right sort of followers for his unique work and to impart that \ force to them when once they had come under his spell.
I cannot conceive of any of the noted Generals or Colonels of either army carrying through successfully, with a detachment of men, two such affairs as these. They were both to become classics in Partisan Ranger warfare though entirely different in kind, and Mosby's men, flushed with their victories redoubled their energies, and for two years following made history
that will last when the stories of big battles and retreats and victories are forgotten. There were hundreds of regiments and brigades and divisions, but there was only one Mosby's Command.
In the official report of the fight at Miskell's the Federal officer said, "Lieutenant Grout mortally wounded; will die to-morrow." But Lieutenant Grout did not die. In 1896, on account of this wound, he was nominated as Republican candidate for Governor of Vermont. At the time of President McKinley's first inauguration Colonel Mosby saw by the papers that Governor Grout, his family and his staff were at the Arlington hotel. Sam Chapman, who took such an enviable part in the Miskell fight, was with Colonel Mosby in Washington at this time, and together they called upon Governor Grout at the Arlington, sent up their cards, and soon the Governor, his wife, son, and staff received them most cordially.
Not long after that Colonel Mosby was badly injured in Charlottesville, Va., by a horse and, while lying in bed, received a very kind letter from Governor Grout. He reminded the Colonel of something which he had forgotten. After the fight at Miskell's was over Mosby went into a house into which all the wounded had been brought, and Lieutenant Grout, severely wounded, asked him to let two of his Vermont soldiers remain there as nurses. Mosby let him select two from among the prisoners who remained.
WARRENTON JUNCTION AND CATLETT'S STATION·
ON a bright spring .morning, May 3rd, 1863, Mosby took his one hundred men down to Warrenton Junction, on the old Orange and Alexandria railroad, now the main line of the Southern,
and ran into a hundred or more of the First Virginia Cavalry, Federal. I say we ran into them, but ·the fact is we slipped in and found the Yankees lolling around the station, some asleep, some idling, all unprepared for the suddenness with which we rushed them. There was a wild scattering in different directions, but the main body took refuge in a large building nearby
and refused to surrender, defending their position with a shower of bullets fired from cracks and windows. Finally Mosby decided to smoke them out, and ordered that the building be set on fire, but some of our men ·under cover of the trees got near the entrance, made a bold dash for it, and broke the door down. The whole crowd capitulated at once and Mosby gathered
them in as prisoners.
In the meantime the Fifth New York, and the First Vermont Cavalry, encamped at Cedar Run a short distance away, had heard the firing and came up on the run. This overwhelming force
turned the tables on us with a vengeance. They chased us in a running fight towards Warrenton, recaptured most of their prisoners and horses, and made it generally disagreeable for the Partisan Rangers.
They killed a scout named Templeton, a member of the regular army who had volunteered with our Command that day. We also lost about twenty of our men wounded and taken prisoners. The killed on the other side were Major Steele, of the First Virginia- and one private. Ten of their men were wounded. Of the Fifth New York, Captain Krom was severely
wounded, and Lieutenants Frank A. Monson, and McBride were wounded, but not dangerously. Our men succeeded in getting away with ten prisoners and their horses. Among our wounded and captured was Captain Sam Ducheane, a soldier of fortune, who had served under Walker in his Nicaragua expedition before the war. Another was Dick Moran, who gave the alarm to Mosby at Miskell's barn on April 1st, just one month before; and still another was Tom Richards who captured Major Forbes in the fight at Mount Zion Church on July 6th, 1864, and who became one of the most conspicuous members of our Command and was made Captain for bravery.
This engagement was a most disastrous one for Mosby. The loss of twenty men wounded and captured, where only one hundred were engaged, was something serious and unprecedented.
While writing the account of this fight at Warrenton Junction I had a letter from Captain Elmer Barker, of the Fifth New York, suggesting that I get Captain Frank A. Monson, of the same regiment, to tell me something about the fight from the other side. I opened a correspondence with Captain Monson,
who is a business man of New Haven, Conn., which has resulted in the following interesting story:
" Sunday morning, May 3rd, 1863, found the Fifth New York Cavalry encamped about one quarter of a mile north of Warrenton Junction. For four or five days previous to the above date we had scoured the country for many miles looking for Mosby's men, having been to Upperville, Salem, The Plains, Rectortown, Aldie, and Middleburg without finding them.
"The First Virginia Federal Cavalry was encamped at Warrenton Junction. Both regiments were taking it rather easy after the five days of scouting. Many of the horses were grazing in the field. It was about six o'clock and we could hear the booming of the guns at Chancellorsville. There was i some cheering up at the Junction. At first we thought \ there was good news from the battle but the shots that followed told us that the First Virginia had been attacked.
"We jumped for our horses, which were unsaddled, and in less time than it takes to tell it the First Virginia horses came on a stampede through our camp, stampeding many of our horses. Two of my horses got away. I put the saddle on a horse and had only time to buckle one girth. The other, as well as the breast strap, girth and throat strap, were hanging.
We started out from the Junction with only forty men in line. More joined us after we got into the fight. Major Hammond led the men, Captain Penfield, Captain Krom and myself were at his heels. As we approached the house at the Junction we divided, one-half went one way and one-half went the other. Mosby had captured the whole First Virginia regiment, which he had drawn up in line and was about ready to march them off as prisoners. A running fight commenced. Mosby had to abandon the First Virginia boys. We followed them to Warrenton, about ten miles. A little way south of the Junction, one of Mosby's men was a little behind the others and was shooting at me all the time. I thought I would have him, so I put spurs to my horse and was alongside of him in a minute and ordered him to surrender.
He turned on me and we both fired; my revolver missed fire; his bullet whizzed past my head. I had to turn and run; he followed me. I layover on the side ·of my horse out of his aim. He put a ball through my boot leg. Captain Penfield came to my assistance and captured the man. About a mile south of the Junction one of Mosby's men introduced a piece of cold lead into my left shoulder which made me go to the rear. I did not get quite back to the J unction before I fell from my horse from weakness from loss of blood. When I recovered consciousness two hour's later I was in the Junction house with other wounded, among them Captain Krom of the Fifth and Major Steele of the First Virginia. Major Steele did not recover."
In the latter part of the same month General Stuart sent to Mosby, at his request, a little Howitzer, but nobody dreamed then what a hot and meteoric career it was destined to have. The old Orange and Alexandria Railroad was used for the transportation of all the supplies of the Union army which was then on the Rappahannotk and, as a consequence, it was heavily guarded at every weak point. It's trains were all protected by sufficient troops to prevent an attack from our men, and cavalry patrols were constantly on the move from post to post along the whole line. This condition made it a mark for Mosby, as it was his mission to annoy the enemy, and the fight at \ Catlett's was one of the blows he struck.
On the 29th of May he had the Command, about one hundred men, meet him at Patterson's, and the wonderful little Howitzer was run out for inspection \ and criticism. Some of the men thought it was a bit too large to carry in a holster and not big enough to be called a cannon. Sam Chapman was one of the few men who knew the difference between a cannon and a saw log and Mosby told Sam to show some of the boys what to do with it.
He was an officer in the Dixie Battery when he came to us. He spent a few minutes instructing the men in the artillery tactics, showing them the difference between the muzzle and the touch-hole, and finally reported to Mosby that his battery of one twelve-pound gun was thoroughly and efficiently manned.
Mosby then started for the railroad, stopping at Greenwich for supper, and camping not far from there for the night. Early on the morning of the Command was pushed on towards Catlett's Station, where the gun was to have its baptism of fire. When they reached the railroad a section of the track was torn up and the telegraph wires were cut. A train, heavily guarded, soon came up and stopped before it reached the torn-up rails. Sam Chapman turned his Howitzer loose upon it, and the men charged it and scattered the guard. The train of
eleven cars was plundered of its contents and then burned. The boys got all sorts of good things and a lot of miscellaneous supplies that were of no earthly use to them, but which they could not resist the temptation to carry off. Among these latter were big bundles of sole leather and a lot of fresh shad. Cavalry camps were near by on each side of the station and the firing of our guns and the pistol shooting that followed attracted their attention; relief parties were at once sent out.
Colonel Mann was in command of the cavalry at Bristoe Station, and he immediately started Captain Hasbrouck with a detachment of the Fifth New York cavalry to intercept Mosby, while he followed along the railroad with his own Seventh Michigan and the First Vermont. Mosby had only gone a few miles when the men of the Fifth New York faced him, having cut across from their camp. Chapman used his Howitzer again and sent a shell into them which stopped them, and Mosby then proceeded. Colonel Mann came up very soon with his Seventh Michigan and First Vermont, and the odds were too great for us.
It was decided to make a last stand. Sam Chapman placed his little gun to the best advantage near the residence of Mr. Green not far from Greenwich, and when Captain Barker of the Fifth New York charged him, Sam cut loose with a charge of grape and canister, and killed three or four and wounded seven of them; but, though our men repulsed them and drove
them back, we finally had to retreat and lost the gun. The pursuit was not kept up.
The enemy admitted a loss of five killed and fifteen wounded. Our loss was five killed and about twenty wounded and captured. Sam Chapman was desperately wounded and left at Mr. Charles Green's house, presumably to die. Captain B. E. Hoskins, an English army officer serving with us, was also badly wounded and taken to Mr. Green's house where he died, and
was buried in the little family church-yard at Greenwich, where over his grave, there is now a beautiful monument placed by the kindly hands of Mr. Green at the request of Captain Hoskins' father, who was an English rector.
Captain Hoskins had served in the Crimean war and had won the Crimean medal as a Captain in the English army, and was a splendid specimen of the gentleman adventurer, which our Command attracted to its ranks. He sold his commission and joined Garibaldi in one of his campaigns, and later came to America for adventure. I am indebted for a very fine photograph of old Greenwich Church and Captain Hoskins' tombstone, to Mr. Douglas Green, a New York broker, son of Mr. Charles Green. He was a boy at the time of our fight, but remembers it distinctly, and says he gave up his room and his bed to our two wounded officers, Hoskins dying in his bed.
Sam Chapman went down at his gun, and Fount Beatie and Montjoy were captured trying to save it. It was of this fight that a retired army officer now living in the State of Washington, wrote me he thought the bringing out and handling \ of our gun that day was one of the most romantic affairs of the war. The Major was a Lieutenant of the Fifth Cavalry at the time of the fight and had his horse killed under him by a shot from Sam Chapman's little cannon at close range. He suggested that I write to Major Barker of Crown Point, N. Y.,
who led his men against us so successfully that day, and get him to give me his version of the fight, which I did, and got the following interesting story from him, which I here insert with his permission.
"The morning of May 30th, 1863, found detachments of the First Vermont, Seventh Michigan and Fifth New York Cavalry, in which latter regiment I was then Second Lieutenant, guarding the railroad near Bristoe Station. A train came out from Washington and, stopping at our camp, left papers and supplies and passed on. It had gone but a few moments when we heard an artillery shot from its direction. We knew Mosby had never had any cannon, and so supposed it must be General Stuart who had attacked the train. Colonel Mann of the Seventh Michigan, in command, ordered Captain Hasbrouck, in command of the detachment of the Fifth New York, to strike across the country and get in the rear of the enemy, he himself taking Lieutenant-Colonel Preston with the First Vermont and the Seventh Michigan directly to where the train was attacked.
"Our detachment started out and met Mosby's Command face to face in the road. He immediately put his gun into position and sent us his compliments by way of a shell, which killed Lieutenant Boutelle's horse. Captain Hasbrouck, instead of charging as he should have done, marched his men up on a hill and allowed Mosby to march by us in good order.
I rode up to Captain Hasbrouck and asked him what he intended to do, and he replied that he could do nothing with his small command. This made me very angry. I was nothing but a boy anxious for a fight and I turned around and gave the order, 'By fours from the right, trot, march,' and started after Mosby, most of the Command following me. We had gone three or four miles on the run, tracking the enemy by the shad and other things which they dropped, which they had captured from the train, and were pretty well strung out when, going around a
turn in the road in a small piece of timber, we suddenly ran into their rear guard. It proved to be Mosby himself, Captain Hoskins of the British army, and three others. Corporal Wooster of Company H, Corporal Jenkins of Company F, and myself were too near to halt and ran right into them. At the first fire Wooster and Jenkins were both wounded and their horses shot. Colonel Hoskins was mortally wounded, and one of Mosby's men killed. This left me alone with the other three for probably one or two minutes (it seemed hours).
I fired all the shots in my revolver, and then drew my sabre, they trying to shoot me, crying "Surrender, Yank," and I trying to kill them. "Hiram Underhill was the first of my men to get
up to us. He undoubtedly saved my life. I have seen an article written by a Confederate officer stating that Mosby was slightly wounded on the arm that day by a sabre. It must have been my sabre, as I hit some one, but did not know then who it was. They got away but we soon caught up with them.
They had their gun posted on a knoll in a lane, and as we came up they fired a shell into us. I said to the boys, 'I think we can get that gun before they can fire again,' and they all said, ' Let's go.'
" We got very near to the gun, probably within twenty feet, when it was fired, killing the gallant Corporal Drake, poor brave fellow, a grape shot passing through his head. Two others were also killed and a number wounded. Two grape shot entered my left thigh, one carrying off my stirrup and the sole of my boot, and four or five entered my horse.
"At this time. Colonel Preston came in with the Vermont men and we took the gun, the brave Lieutenant Chapman fighting to the last, though mortally wounded. I then rode back about one mile and met Doctor Edson of the First Vermont. I got off my horse and laid down under a tree, having lost considerable blood, and feeling rather weak. The doctor took off my boot and found one ball in it and the other he cut out of my leg. At this time a Mr. Green, a quiet elderly gentleman, came out with an ox team, some ice water and a bottle of brandy, the
contents of which revived me amazingly. He kindly invited me to remain at his house until I convalesced, but I declined, with thanks, as it was in the enemy's lines. I waited until they sent to camp for an ambulance, in which I rode back to camp, arriving about dark, and remained in the ambulance all night.
"Official reports say that we lost four killed and one officer and seven men wounded out of one hundred and seventy-one engaged. Mosby's Command numbered about two hundred men, but I am unable to give his loss."
General Stahel in his report of June 3rd, said: "The advance of the Fifth New York, led by Lieutenant Elmer Barker, came up with the enemy first with his small detachment dashed up the hill and when within about fifty yards of the gun received a charge of grape and canister, which killed three and wounded seven of our men and several horses; the enemy had then charged upon us, but were met with a stubborn resistance by the Lieutenant and his men although the Lieutenant had received two grape shot in his thigh. We were, however, overpowered and driven back a short distance. Just then Colonel Preston of the First Vermont, came up at a full charge upon their flank and was again received with a discharge from the Howitzer of grape and canister. Our men pushed on, until they came to a hand-to-hand conflict, when the enemy gradually fell back."
On the day of the fight Colonel Mann reported very promptly to General Stahel, commanding, a very graphic account of the affair, and on the following day, after returning from a visit to the grounds, he reported to Major Baldwin as follows:
"Returned at dark, bringing in one cannon and all our dead and wounded. The wounded number fifteen on our side. It was an extremely hot affair for a small one. Many of the wounds very severe. Our captures of the day are ten prisoners, including Captain Hoskins, an English officer of seven years' service, now in the Confederate service, and Lieutenant Chapman,
who had charge of the artillery. Both these officers so severely wounded could not be removed and were paroled. I sent in prisoners by train today.
The enemy lost heavy in wounded, as they received a terrific fire from revolvers at close range, followed by a determined sabre charge. Many were severely cut by sabre, but clung to their horses and fell back into the thicket. [Not a man of Mosby's was so much as scratched with a sabre. The Colonel had been misinformed. J. W. Munson.] Lieutenant Barker had
two grape shot through his thigh, but is quite comfortable. He crossed sabres with them and fought desperately after this wound."
DRANESVILLE AND ELSEWHERE
(WHEN the two armies under Lee and Meade were coming back from the disastrous Gettysburg campaign, Mosby's little Confederacy was overrun with troops, and his men, at the time only one company, were kept on the alert; but they were well paid for the annoyance Meade's army gave them.
Singly and ,in groups, men were picked up and gathered into the Mosby fold and as it was impossible or, more properly speaking, inconvenient, to carry them out of the enemy's lines to turn them over to General Lee, a temporary camp for them was established in the Bull Run Mountain, where they were as securely kept, though in full sight of their own passing troops, as if they were in Libby prison.
By the 21st of July, Mosby had captured forty-seven men, two sutler's wagons and a headquarters wagon. To retain them, however, was an annoying task, for Mosby wanted every available man for active service. Tom Lake, with seven men, was detailed to carry the prisoners. out, much to Tom's disgust, for the boy was eager to stay where he could participate
in the fighting. The sutler's wagons proved a treat to the boys, for they contained all sorts of good things. From the appetizing contents of one, Lake prepared a supper of canned turkey and hot corn bread with a bottle of wine. That was Tom's idea of a feast. He invited his chief to share the meal and during its progress he was ordered to carry out the forty-seven prisoners. Three wagons were burned and the captors and captured started along the mountain side to worm their way toward the Southern army at Culpeper.
A few days later Mosby sent the following report to General Stuart:
I sent you in charge of Sergeant~ one hundred and forty-one prisoners which we captured from the enemy during their march through this county. I also sent off forty-five several days ago. Included in the number, one Major, one Captain and two Lieutenants. I also captured one hundred and twenty-five horses and mules, twelve wagons (only three of which I was able to destroy), fifty sets of fine harness, arms, etc., etc.
Beattie carried these prisoners out safely with a guard of only seventeen men, and when they were approaching our army it is said that the alarm was given that Meade was making a flank movement on Lee. Beattie was so completely lost to sight among his men in blue that our troops could not distinguish any of our men and supposed it just a flank movement or a daring raid. The first night that Tom Lake and his forty-seven prisoners were on their journey South, he ran into Hancock's column not far from Warrenton and, remembering that Mosby once carried two prisoners safely through an entire regiment of the enemy, he struck out boldly with his little crowd and piloted them through without a challenge or the loss of a
prisoner. It was then not ·yet dusk, and immediately afterward he went into camp for the night at the home of one of the Blackwells. He resumed his march the next morning, escaping a raiding party who had heard of his being there half an hour previously. Not content with the number of prisoners he already had, he gathered in several of Hancock's' men as he passed
through that column. At three o'clock he turned his prisoners over to General Longstreet, at Culpeper Court House and started back to the Command. This \ daring journey was made entirely by day. Charley Hall was one of the seven men detailed to accompany Tom Lake, and the mere mention of his name recalls enough incidents connected with him to fill a book. I reluctantly resist the impulse to chronicle them at length, but as he is one of our dead heroes I must make suitable mention of him. Though he was a mature man, thirty years old, as I recall him, he was companionable with the younger set, and especially popular with the daredevil element. At times he drifted away from the truly exemplary paths of the regular Mosby Guerrillas and went off on wild adventures with Nick Carter and Charley McDonough, two brevet-outlaws, who accompanied us only with the tolerance of the Colonel. When these three started out on a business trip there were always results. Colonel Mosby would not permit Charley and Nick to indulge in reprehensible actions when they were. with us, but
I think he had a sneaking admiration for their bravery, for neither of them knew what fear was. There was a reward for Charley McDonough's apprehension and once he was chased by a raiding party near Mlddleburg. His horse having fallen the boy realized that he was to be taken prisoner, and accordingly emptied all but one load of his pistols into his pursuers, and the last into his own brain.
Nick Carter belonged to one of the oldest and most aristocratic families in Virginia, but he accumulated such a load of undesirable responsibility and notoriety during the war that he thought it best to leave the country mysteriously at its close.
Charley Hall was always picturesque. He was a particularly handsome man, and always went faultlessly mounted and equipped; in fact he was one of our pronounced dandies. I have seen him emerge from a fight, brushing the dust from his clothes and smoothing out his ruffled plume as though nothing unusual had occurred. There was a story current in the Command that, in the " Greenback Raid," he had relieved a cattle dealer of more than five thousand dollars, in addition to his share of the greenbacks captured from Sheridan's paymasters. The cattle dealer was a Government contractor.
Charley and John Puryear were riding down the Snickersville turnpike one dark night and, as they crossed a little stream, they. stopped their horses to let them drink. While they stood there two men rode up alongside of them and also stopped their horses. Not a word was spoken for a moment and then Puryear whispered softly: "Charley, they are Yankees."
Knowing full well that the newcomers were the extreme advance of a raiding party and that any attempt to run would only hasten their own capture or their death they quietly drew their pistols and, each selecting the nearest man, fired. There were cries of pain; a splash in the little stream; two riderless horses dashing by them down the pike; and the clatter of hoofs back of them. That was all. War is not play.
On the 20th of February, 1864, two days before the Dranesville Fight, frequently referred to as "the 'other Dranesville fight," because Miskell's was not far from Dranesville, and they used to call that the first fight at Dranesville, Colonel Mosby, Johnny Edmonds, Jake Lavinder and I were seated at breakfast in Mr. Blackwell's home in the Blue Ridge foothills;
the same house at which I joined the Partizan Rangers the year previous, and which I had made my home ever since. It was known by all our men and by the citizens generally, as Mosby's Headquarters, for he was there more than anywhere else when not in the saddle. Before we had completed our meal Jimmy Edmonds, Johnny's little brother, burst into
the room panting from his long run and yelling: " The Yankees are on the pike: it's just blue with 'em."
We saddled our horses at once and galloped out to the pike to see how much of it they occupied, as - such action seemed like trespassing on our preserve. To compliment a faithful follower, the Colonel had appointed Lavinder Ordnance Sergeant of the Battalion; in fact he had created the office to give it to Jake, and incidentally to please Jake's sweetheart, who was a sister of Mrs. Blackwell. The Colonel was ever a gallant, and had a warm spot in his heart for lovers.
During Jake's term of office he had gathered, though from what source no ever knew, two carbines and a few rounds of cartridges which, at a pinch, might be used safely, if not effectually. We laughed at his arsenal, preferring our pistol to anything else, but Jake halted long enough to seize his collection before he galloped after us. I recollect how encumbered
he appeared as he followed in our rear, carrying his guns in every possible position, and hanging on to them in the face of our ridicule.
When we reached the pike not far from Piedmont Depot, on the old Manassas Gap Railroad, we discovered a raiding party of about two hundred and fifty men. They proved to be Cole's Maryland Battalion and they were looking for trouble. We four were so absolutely out of proportion to their number that the Colonel sent a messenger off to spread the news and gather the Mosby clans. While we were waiting for enough of our men to gather for an attack, we could do nothing except ride along in the wake of the enemy and keep a sharp watch on their
movements. Meantime some one was riding frantically from house to house, crying out: "The Colonel is down on the pike with only three men, trying to hold a whole Yankee column: hurry over to him and send to him all the men you can! Spread the news! " And so on to the next farm, a sort of Guerrilla Paul Revere. "
It soon became evident that Mosby's men were what the Yankees were looking for. Shortly after we came in sight of them they turned back on the route upon which we first saw them. Presently they dropped down a little hill and stopped for a moment at a creek that ran at its base. This was the moment for which Jake had been waiting. He passed as the two carbines and insisted that now was the time to try their range and effectiveness. Colonel Mosby did not care to use a strange and suspicious looking weapon, and I was equally reluctant, for I had never fired a carbine in my life, and I did not want to be I killed by a bursting gun. Jake insisted and finally talked us into it. We selected a couple of shells that seemed to fit into the guns without their sticking or dropping through all the way and, after warning Jake to stand back out of danger if anything unusual happened, we blazed away. A horse and a man, far apart, dropped dead in the road. Jake let out a whoop and pressed us to try it again, but we knew when we had enough, especially as a rain of bullets from Cole's men fell around us. It was never known which of us killed the man and which the horse, for neither of us aimed at either, but I claimed the animal as my prize because it had on a bridle and saddle which I wanted for a friend. The dead man was carried off by his men.
This carbine shooting woke things up. Some of our men, rounded up by the messengers, began to appear; more joined us along the pike as we started after Cole's men, whom we pursued for miles into Loudoun county in a running fight. Just as we passed through the town of Upperville, the boys' school was dismissed for recess. One very fat boy took in the
situation at once and, jumping on his pony with his McGuffy's Third Reader for his only weapon, which he waved aloft, he dashed into the chase with us, whooping and yelling and never stopping until we all quit the chase. That day was the boy's last at school for he insisted on joining the Command and, until the end of the war, was one of the gamest and best soldiers Mosby had. He was Cab Maddox, known to every man in the Command and to everybody in that country, as a fighter.
One man, McCobb was killed, and a few captured, among them Bartlet and John Bolling, who were at their father's home when Colonel Cole pounced down upon them. The command was called together the next day to attend the funeral of our dead comrade. We gave our dead Christian burial whenever possible and they sleep today in many an unmarked grave in northern Virginia.
While we were gathering for the funeral at the house of Mr. Jeffries, one of our scouts brought in the report that the Yankees were about. We jumped into our saddles, leaving McCobb's body to be buried by others, and rode away at a stiff gallop in the direction where our scout had last seen the enemy.
We had about one hundred and fifty men and Mosby was in command. Late that same afternoon we over, took the raiders and ascertained that they were a part of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry under Captain Reed. They had about two hundred men which included a number of Californians belonging to a California battalion that formed part of the Massachusetts Regiment.
We followed them quietly all the afternoon and when they camped at nightfall, not very far from Dranesville, we camped on their trail. They were joined that night by another party of the Sixteenth New York Cavalry under Major Frazer, but the next morning Frazer and his men quitted them and went to his camp by a road in our rear which left us between the two forces.
The outlook was exceedingly promising for a pitched battle on a small scale. Mosby was in a very cheerful mood, looking forward to a fitting celebration of Washington's birthday, which was to fall upon the morrow. Most of us "retired" to our saddle blankets on the frozen ground later than usual as the imminence of a splendid fight made sleep impossible to many.
The hot-headed youngsters among us wanted to begin at once. We were astir about sunrise the next morning, saddled up and mounted quickly, and moved over to the Dranesville pike, a mile or so below town. Colonel Mosby split his force, placing the two divisions two or three hundred yards apart, near the pike. From the two sections he selected fifteen men whom he stationed, dismounted, in the pines immediately beside the pike. Down the road he placed three men, Frank Rahm and two others, to attract the attention of the Yankees when they came along and to draw them out. Mosby gave strict orders that not a shot was to be fired by any man until he gave the signal, which was to be a sharp blast from a whistle, and, taking with him Companies A and B a little way below where he had stationed the fifteen men, he left Chapman in charge of Companies C, D and E above the fifteen men. All were near the road but
hidden from view.
Presently some of Reed's men saw Frank Rahm and the two men down the pike and started for them, passing our first division under Chapman concealed in the woods. Not a shot was fired and the enemy following the pickets rode blindly into the trap. Our men, who had been ordered to remain quiet and await the signal, were tremblingly eager to begin firing, but a command from Mosby was not to be disobeyed. We could see the Yankees moving cautiously along the pike, but inevitably into the jaws of death. After a time the advance column came opposite our fifteen dismounted men, and a shrill blast came from Mosby's whistle. Instantly fifteen pairs of six-shooters were emptied into the enemy's ranks. They halted and wavered, some of them throwing up their hands as if to ward off a sudden slap in the face. Almost simultaneously our mounted detachments, right and left, on the pike, descended like wolves on the fold, with the unearthly Mosby yell spreading terror and confusion everywhere. Our attack seemed to be a complete surprise, although they were out "looking for Mosby."
The whistle had been blown just a little too soon, for what we supposed was the main body of Reed's men and had fired into proved to be only an advance guard and, when Chapman charged upon the pike, he was abreast of the main body which had turned and begun retreating. When Mosby appeared on the pike with Companies A and B none of the enemy were in front of him and we had to gallop up the pike to catch up with them. When we reached them Chapman and his men were already there, and all of a sudden it became a hand-to-hand affair. It was soon evident to Reed that he was in for a whipping, and his men began breaking through the fences and into the fields, but fighting all the while. His Californians, especially
notoriously good fighters, were standing up to the rack like men, dealing out to us the best they had.
They rallied at every call on them and went down with banners flying. The road was rapidly filled up with dead and wounded men and horses, and riderless horses were galloping in terror everywhere. We chased the flying men in every direction, constantly emitting the Mosby yell to give speed to their heels.
Many of them were driven into the Potomac river, and dead and drowned bodies were found around the neighborhood for several days afterwards.
No man in the Command was nearer to the thick of that fight than Mosby himself. There was room, after once we got started, to lead a charge, and the Chief got right in the middle. I saw him weaving in and out of the fighting mass like a ferret, fighting hand-to-hand with every man who would stand before him. His fine mare was shot early in the action, and he sat her firmly throughout the entire fight, though she was on three legs only.
There was in our Command one Baron von Massow, a Prussian officer, whom came to us with letters, looking for adventure and desiring to study our tactics, like the Austrian officer of whom I shall speak in my account of the Greenback Raid.. Since 1865 he has been identified with the German army and has had part in every war since. Today he commands the crack cavalry corps, the Ninth, of the Imperial German Army, and as I write these lines his photograph is before me, showing his breast covered with medals of honor. He was one of the handsomest men I ever saw.
That morning, at Dranesville, the Baron rode into the fight in the squad in front of me. A long redlined cape was thrown back from his shoulders exposing his glittering uniform. From his hat waved a big ostrich plume and he dashed into the fray with an old German sabre flashing in the light. I have not the slightest doubt that he was mistaken for Mosby, for he was a very conspicuous figure and drew a perfect rain of bullets and sabre thrusts from the enemy. He saw Captain Reed and charged him. Reed threw up his pistol hand and surrendered to the
Baron, who passed him by to charge on the next man. When his back was turned Reed shot him through the body. Seeing Captain Wm. H. Chapman rushing towards him to avenge the deed, he started on a run but was immediately overtaken by Chapman who shot him through the body, falling dead near the Baron who was lying in the road where he was shot. I was near enough to see him hit and remember he tried to raise his weapon for another shot, found his strength going, and plunged forward on his face dead.
I saw the Baron lying in the road with his martial cloak around him, magnificent in his colors, and looking every inch a hero. I had no time at that moment to stand in contemplation of the real military. man among us, so I jumped my horse over him and rode on. The brave German pulled through after a long and hard siege, and made up his mind to return to his native land; the following summer he bade many of us an affectionate farewell, and left us. Some of our old Command correspond with him to this day. I got the facts of Captain Reed's death from Colonel Wm. H. Chapman.
Before we went into the action that day I loaned one of my pistols to a new man who had none, which left me but one for my own use. I did fairly well until the end of the action, when I got the drop on a Californian with my last shot. He threw up his pistol and exclaimed, "I surrender." I took it for granted he meant what he said, and rode past him, firing at a man beyond who was trying to work his way through a wedge of his men, on the roadside. Then the man who so readily surrendered turned and shot me in the back as I passed him. I don't blame him in the least, for I ought to have had the sense to take his pistol from him when he held it up. Lud Lake, who was an eye witness to his attempt on my life, shot and killed him. When the
bullet struck me only a half inch from my back bone, I felt a numbness coming over my legs first and then my body. One of our men reached out and held me on my horse. At that instant Harry Sweeting was shot at my side and the same man reached out and seized him, too, but Harry's wound hurt him so badly he pulled away and fell from his horse into the road.
He managed to drag himself to a little stream trickling along the roadside, where he bathed his wound in the cold water and stopped the flow of blood. He recovered.
My friend who held me on my horse (I never learned his name), succeeded in getting me into a nearby house and placing me on a lounge, after which he rushed off to finish his engagement with the Yankees. The wounding of a man in our Command was of little moment and my friend never thought enough of the incident to look me up later and receive my
thanks. Shortly afterward, when the fight was over and the men started home, some of them, seeing my horse tied to the fence, came in and found me trying to amuse myself by counting the clock ticks, and took me away.
At the beginning of the fight the family had run out of the house and gone to the woods for protection and I was alone when the boys found me. I must have been an attractive object, for I had put my hand back of me to ease my pain and got it smeared with warm blood, and then wiped my face with my bloody hand. My wound kept me out of service for a few weeks, but I had gentle nursing by Mrs. Edmonds and her daughters and the best of medical care from Dr. Dunn, who, having no nitrate of silver, used to dress my wound with burnt alum; he had me on a diet of bacon and cabbage till he could get my stomach strong.
The result of the fight on our side was the loss of one man, Chappalier, killed, and eight wounded, five of them seriously. The Federal loss was fifteen killed, twenty-five wounded, seventy-five prisoners and one hundred horses captured.
The Yankees had beel piloted on their raid by Charley Binns, a deserter from our command. When the first shot was fired Charley started to run and was never heard of by the Californians or our men. It was said that he stopped for one night in Winnipeg to get a bite and then went on towards the North Pole. His name became a by-word in Mosby's Command. There is another incident of this second Dranesvilte fight, that is entitled to a space in these recollections.
Johnny Edmonds was my "bunky" in Mosby's Command. Mr. Blackwell, at whose house we lived and where Mosby made his headquarters, was Johnny's brother-in-law. The whole family resided in the neighborhood. The day before when we started from Mr. Blackwell's to go to McCobb's funeral, Johnny's mother insisted that he should take a little pocket
Bible along with him. You can't tell how soon you may need the good book, my son," was her parting advice. She was a very devout Episcopalian, and, while her heart was In the cause for which her sons were fighting, she had an abiding faith in the supreme strength and wisdom to be gained from the word of God. Johnny took the book, thrust it into his trousers' pocket and forgot all about it. In the fight the next day he fired at a man at close range and missed him, something he did not do often, and the Union man fired back and hit Johnny with a forty-four caliber slug which ploughed through the little pocket Bible, lodged against Johnny's thigh-bone and put him out of the game. Had it not been for the Bible, however, the bullet would surely have shattered the bone.
We were taken home in the same carriage from the fight, and both were nursed back to strength at Mr. Blackwell's home by his mother and sisters. Mrs. Edmonds bent over her boy when they brought him in all covered with dry blood and I heard something about a Bible as they embraced each other in tears. Johnny went to Texas after the war ended and he had finished his education, became a leading attorney, and was elected mayor of Sherman; he went to the Spanish-American war as a Colonel. His old wound began to bother him in Texas and, in 1896, he went to St. Louis, where the X-ray located the bullet in his thigh. He had it cut out and now wears it on his watch chain as a cheerful reminder of the good old days. My own sons sat at his bedside in the hospital after the operation and heard him tell of his experiences with Mosby when he was my "bunky."
When he got well enough to go out, the boys went to see a game of base ball with him. John L. Sullivan sat near them and was creating some annoyance by his hilarity. Edmonds did not know who he was and did hot. care, but told him to " shut up,': or he would fire him out." I suppose he thought It was the old Mosby days when the size of a man made not the slightest difference.
A NARROW ESCAPE
ON July 3rd, 1864, the Command was assembled to make a raid into Maryland and, marching north through Loudoun county, reached the Potomac river opposite the Federal post at Point of Rocks, on the morning of the Fourth of July. We had a small cannon with us and we opened fire on the troops on the opposite side, and then, the whole Command under Mosby's lead, forded the stream. Mosby had dismounted a few of the men who had carbines, which they had picked up somewhere, and started them in ahead of the rest to wade the river and act as a sort of long-range advance guard. The higher the water came up around them the more exasperated they became, especially as sharp-shooters on the other side
were trying to pick them off. There was one standing on the bridge that crossed the canal on the Maryland side, where we could see him loading and firing, and every shot striking annoyingly near our men.
The Colonel rode up to one of our dismounted men, Emory Pitts, and asked: "Pitts, can you stop that Yankee over there from sucking eggs? "
" I'll try," answered Pitts; and standing there with the water up to his breast, he raised his carbine and fired; the sharpshooter fell.
Reaching the Maryland side we found that the bridge across the canal had been torn up, but repaired it so the men could cross. We attacked the garrison, drove it out, captured the camp and a lot of stores, destroyed all the Government property, burned a freight-boat, cut the wires, helped ourselves to everything we could handle, and came back to the Virginia side in safety, bringing our prisoners with us. All this Fourth of July celebrating was decidedly annoying to the enemy, and it kept us busy all forenoon.
The afternoon was spent in getting things straightened out after the frolic and late the next day, after operating along the Potomac in sight of the enemy all day, hearing that Major Forbes, with the Second Massachusetts Cavalry was somewhere in the neighborhood and looking for us, we started towards Leesburg and stopped for the night. A scouting party that had been sent by Mosby towards the town returned after nightfall and reported that Major Forbes's Command, together with some of the Thirteenth New York Cavalry were encamped near Leesburg, that the Major knew of our raid at Point of Rocks, and that he had spread the report among the residents of Leesburg that he had Mosby's men in a trap which he would spring the next day, July 6th.
This was not the pleasantest thing that could have I been said to us just then and, for better safety, the men were ordered to saddle up; in the darkness we moved in a wide circle around the town towards Waterford and camped for the remainder of the night..
Whenever I use the expression "camped for the night," I mean only that we unsaddled and laid down on the ground among the horses, with saddles for pillows and the starry firmament for bed clothing. We had about one hundred and fifty men at this time, for a number had gone back home after the Point of Rocks raid. Undisturbed by the presence of Major Forbes in our vicinity, with no thought of his making an attack on us at night, and with the desire to have it out with him by daylight in a fair field, the Colonel and the men slept soundly all night.
Early the next morning , we were up and in the saddle, singing cheerfully. We followed our leader into Leesburg where we learned that the Major's Command had moved towards Aldie, a few miles south. We followed, trying to cut him off at Ball's Mill, but he had already crossed the ford when we arrived and was headed for Mount Zion church. We took a straight cut to reach the turnpike east of Mount Zion, so as to get in between Forbes and his headquarters, which were at or near Falls Church in Fairfax county.
We knew that he had heard of our movements and began to suspect that he was not half as anxious to get us into his trap as he was to keep out of Mosby's. When we broke into the pike a mile and a half below Mount Zion, Forbes had not yet come in sight, so we took time to plant our cannon in the middle of the road and arrange to receive him.
Presently Forbes and his two hundred men came into view near Mount Zion. The Major did not see us until he got started down the pike again. Our artillery squad which was more or less afraid of the little twelve-pounder, yanked the lanyard and a shell went howling up the road only to burst well out of range without doing the slightest damage. The two Commands were then several hundred yards apart and Major Forbes instantly crossed with his men into a field on the south side of the road, passing through a gap in the fence. Here he drew his entire Command up in line to await our attack which he knew was about due.
In order to get at him we had to move along the road in his front and take the concentrated fire of his men. Mosby ordered us to hold our fire until we could get into the field and we went along the pike rather leisurely, not giving our horses full rein until we got through the gap in the fence. Forbes had not the same idea about where the fight should begin. His men began raking us along the road and were ready with more ammunition when we wheeled and sent up the yell which was so much a part of our tactics. That we had better horses than our opponents there is not any possible doubt. At any rate we swept into their line like a hurricane, each man with a drawn six-shooter. At first Forbes' men made a good fight, but they could· not stand the rain of our pistol balls. We split their front rank asunder and broke their spirit. Half of them, in a mad and helpless scramble, got into the next field, where they rallied
around Major Forbes and fought as gallantly as any men could fight. We crashed into them again and the battle became a hand-to-hand conflict, revolvers against sabres and revolvers, Mosby's men discharging their· weapons into the very faces of Forbes's troopers. It was a mass of struggling, cursing maniacs, each striving to slay his antagonist. Some of this same Second Massachusetts Cavalry were the men we had met at Dranesville on February 22 previously.
Major Forbes occupied the centre of the action, standing in his stirrups with sabre drawn, fighting desperately. He thrust his sabre through the shoulder of Captain Tom Richards who had marked him for single combat. Richards snapped his pistol in the Major's face, but it failed to explode. In that instant a bullet ripped into Forbes's horse, and he went down under the dying animal, pinned helplessly, and had to surrender. One of his officers, Lieutenant Armory, now a prominent citizen of Boston, fell side by side with his Commander, while his men were flying in every direction. To show how we were interwoven with the enemy it may be mentioned that one of our boys, Willie Martin, was so closely surrounded by Forbes' men, they were obliged to club him into insensibility because there was no room to fire a carbine with safety to their own men.
When Forbes and Amory fell, their men were getting into full rout with Mosby at their heels. The flight and the pursuit were strung out from the scene of the first engagement to old Sudley Church, a distance of ten miles. I followed Colonel Mosby and Johnny Edmonds over the entire stretch and when we returned we found dead and wounded men and horses all along the road and in the fields. We found a man kneeling near the fence by the roadside, with his head bent forward touching the ground in front of him and his left hand clutching a gaping wound in his side. I was ordered to go to his assistance, but when I dismounted and tried to raise him or ease his position, I found a corpse.
The fighting and the rout lasted until late in the afternoon, and there were so many wounded men to help, and so many prisoners to look after, that we did not start homeward till long after dark. Our loss was seven wounded, one of whom died later. Forbes had twenty men killed on the field and forty wounded, about fifteen of them mortally; a very handsome tribute alike to their staying qualities and the accuracy of Mosby marksmanship. Forbes also lost sixty prisoners and one hundred horses.
C. P. Lowell, Jr, commanding the brigade of which the Second Massachusetts was a part, said in his official report of the fight that only forty-five men got back to camp alive.
Although Tom Richards did his best to kill the Federal commanding officer in this fight, I am pleased to record the fact that we captured him alive, which was a much more satisfactory achievement, because Major William H. Forbes returned to Massachusetts after the war, and up to the time of his death, a short time ago, he was one of the most influential, beloved
and respected citizens in that commonwealth. I called on him several years ago in his Boston office and we fought the war over again with all the zest at our command. In the course of our conversation he put his hand on my knee and said: "Tell me, Munson, how is my old friend, Tom Richards?" Surely to recall Tom Richards as his friend was enough to convince any listener that the North and the South are again united.
Charley Dear sent me the following story of a little side issue which fits in very well with the story of the Mount Zion fight:
On the evening of the Fourth of July, 1864, after Colonel Mosby had captured the Point of Rocks and the Command had returned to the south side of the Potomac river the Colonel ordered Wat Bowie take ten men and recross the river and to cut the telegraph wires and to stir up the Yankees. The men who composed the scouting party were Jim Wiltshire, Charley Dear, Steney Mason, Bush Underwood, Carlisle, Jim Lowndes, Ned Gibson, Clay Adams, Monroe Heiskell, and Kane.
They crossed the Potomac river at Edward's Ferry, swimming the river part of the way. After they crossed they cut the telegraph wires and went down the river on the towpath. When they came to the aqueduct at the mouth of the Monocacy river they found it guarded by some of the troops of the Eighth Illinois. They charged down the tow-path in single file, Bowie leading the way. They went over the flag-stones at a dead run, the enemy on the other side of the canal firing at them. If a man or a horse had been wounded there it would have been death to him, with the river on the right, twenty feet below, and the canal on their left; but fortunately the Yankees did not hurt any of them.
Bowie ordered Heiskell and Kane to stand on the aqueduct, and fire at the enemy, while our men charged down the tow-path and came on the road under the aqueduct, where they found some of the enemy disputing their way. Wiltshire, Dear and Mason each dropped a man and then charged down the road to the store where they found four canal boats tied up, which they burned, and also captured a few horses. After loading down their horses with goods they started to return, as they had stirred up a hornet's nest. Up the towpath they went at a dead run, with calico streaming, shoes scattering in every direction, and hoop-skirts, of which they had captured a goodly number, flying in the air, the Eighth Illinois, from their camp at Muddy Branch, a mile below, coming after them, as they could see by the dust. Cole's battalion had returned to the Point of Rocks, and were coming down to cut them off from Edwards's
Ferry. Wiltshire called to Bowie to look be-hind at what was coming, as the dust seemed to be nearing them. Bowie said: " Yes, they are in front, too; we are between the devil and the deep sea." Cut off from Edwards's Ferry, with the Potomac on one side and the canal on the other, death or capture seemed to be inevitable.
Among the prisoners was a negro about fifty years of age. Wiltshire said: "If you will show us the way out of here we will turn you loose and give you a horse and money and goods." To their surprise he said they were close to a riffle, where they could ford, and that he would take them across, which he did. The dust from both directions was coming nearer and nearer, but the old negro got them over safely; soon after they entered the brush the enemy met in the tow-path, but our men were in old Virginia again.
Jim Lowndes was so much delighted with getting home that he embraced the old negro and blessed him; he and Heiskell began to sing "I am going back to old Virginia shore," and all joined in: The boys gave the old negro what they promised him and, after he received his reward, he raised his hat and said: "Mars Bowie, when you and Mars Dear and Mars Wiltshire and the other gentlemen come again, let me know and I will help you out: I am rich." The boys had made him rich indeed, and as they rode off he was waving his hat to them.
To Next Page