Mosby's Midnight Raid

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Robert E. Lee is said to have exclaimed, "Hurrah for Mosby!  I wish I had a hundred like him!"  Ulysses S. Grant told General Philip Sheridan that "where any of Mosby's men are caught, hang them without trial."  It was Abraham Lincoln who game him his moniker of "The Gray Ghost," when, as his reputation increased, the Union Army's biggest fear in Washington was that Mosby would kidnap Lincoln from right beneath their nose.  Lincoln, upon hearing several of his generals discussing Mosby and their fears, loudly announced, "Listen to you men, you speak of Mosby as though he is a ghost, a gray ghost." It wasn't until after the war that Mosby learned of this and the nickname stuck.

It was General Lee, through General J.E.B. Stuart, who authorized John Singleton Mosby to organize the 43rd Battalion Virginia Calvary "to weaken the armies invading Virginia by harassing their rear."  They operated in my neighborhood, throughout Northern Virginia, in an area known, during the Civil War, and even in the Northern press, as "Mosby's Confederacy."  Not exactly rag tag, they were not the disciplined, military regiment that all might imagine. 

The regiment was formed to disrupt Union supply and communication lines.  Mosby's Rangers would stay individually in many locations, coming together for raids.  They also became known as Mosby's Raiders or Mosby's Ghosts.

Their most famous raid occurred around 2am on 9 March 1863, when Mosby and 29 men suddenly appeared in the town of Fairfax Court House, VA., 10 miles behind the Union lines.  This garrison contained many Union troops, with thousands surrounding the area.

 

 

They made their way through the complex of buildings, including the court house seen here.  This is how the Fairfax Court House looked in 1863 and its preserved appearance today.  They ended up at what is today known as "The Dr. William Gunnel House."  It was used as a headquarters by Union General Edwin H. Stoughton.

Arriving at the door, and politely knocking, a lieutenant aid had little choice but to open it to Mosby and his men.  They went upstairs to find General Stoughton sleeping in bed.  Colonel Mosby pulled off the blankets, lifted the general's night shirt, and smacked him on the behind with his glove!  Angry at being so rudely awakened, the general shouted, "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!?"  Mosby quickly responded, "Do you know Mosby, general?" "Yes! Have you got the rascal?" "No, but he has got you!"  Mosby then allowed him to dress, and escorted him out to the street to see what else the raid had captured.

The raid took only one hour and a half!  Mosby's Rangers, never having fired a shot, rode out of town with a collection of prisoners and horses.  They left the garrison using a roundabout route to confuse any pursuers, and made it safely back to Confederate territory. Reporting to Gen. "Jeb" Stuart, Mosby wrote: "The fruits of this expedition are 1 brigadier general, 2 captains, and 30 men prisoners. We also brought off 58 horses, most of them very fine... I had 29 men with me; sustained no loss. They all behaved admirably."

President Lincoln, upon hearing of the raid, is said to have been more concerned for the horses than for his general!  He said, "I can make brigadier generals, but I can't make horses."

Interestingly, after the war, Mosby believed it necessary to reconcile with the North.  He even campaigned for Ulysses Grant's presidential bid.  This was highly controversial among southerners.  Grant later helped get him a job as a lawyer in San Fransisco for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  While there Mosby struck up a close friendship with a family named Patton.  He was especially fond of their young son, George S. Patton.  During visits to their southern California ranch, Colonel Mosby would re-enact Civil War battles with young George.  While riding horses, Mosby would play himself and let George play the part of Robert E. Lee as he would recount Civil War battles. 

These many stories, and re-enactments, as taught by one of the greatest guerrilla fighters of all time, must have had a huge influence on young George, and played heavily on his later sense of bravery, duty, honor and war tactics.

In his autobiography, Ulysses S. Grant wrote about John Singleton Mosby.  It says, "Since the close of the war, I have come to know Colonel Mosby personally and somewhat intimately.  He is a different man entirely from what I supposed.  He is able and thoroughly honest and truthful."

Such a legacy, as expressed by a former enemy, is profound indeed.

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainmaker
322,088
Don MacLean
Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY - Franklin, MA
Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA

Great post.

It goes to show you even back then people have always assumed things of others especially the enemy as Grant said   "He is a different man entirely from what I supposed"       

Luv a good story

Enjoy the day

Oct 14, 2010 09:35 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,245,207
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

And, Don, I am glad you enjoyed it twice!

Oct 14, 2010 09:38 AM #12
Rainmaker
311,259
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

NIce bit of history. Gettysburg Gerry is providing a view from the norther front as well.

Oct 14, 2010 10:07 AM #13
Rainmaker
453,503
John Mulkey
TheHousingGuru.com - Waleska, GA
Housing Guru

Jay - I've always been fascinated with Civil War history and have lived on and around some of the major sites for the Battle of Atlanta.  My grandfather once had a great collection of Civil War artifacts, including a well-preserved musket found on Kennesaw Mountain in a hollow log. (Sadly, his entire collection was stolen while on loan to the museum at Kennesaw Mountain National Park)

Oct 14, 2010 10:32 AM #14
Rainmaker
1,245,207
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Glenn.  Who is Gettysburg Gerry?

John - amazing!  Did they compensate your family for that?  Ridiculous...  Did General Sherman march through your yard?  It's interesting to drive around there and see the path he and his troops burned on their way to the sea.

Oct 14, 2010 10:37 AM #15
Rainmaker
453,503
John Mulkey
TheHousingGuru.com - Waleska, GA
Housing Guru

Jay - Actually, we're pretty sure that an employee took the items, and the FBI did an investigation but could never prove anything--and no they did not compensate the family.  I once owned property at the foot of Kennesaw mountain in an area where they unloaded supplies and had a battery aimed on the mountain.

Oct 14, 2010 11:07 AM #16
Ambassador
1,563,782
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Jay, there's no question that Patton was known to be an avid student of history, especially as relates to war. Interesting to read that he got his inspiration at the foot of one of the most controversial generals of the civil war. Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

Oct 14, 2010 11:57 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,245,207
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

John - that is a real tragedy.  Would be an interesting thing to sweep through all those former employee's houses, under the guise of the Patriot Act, and see what they have inside!   ;)

Ed - Patton was very connected to history, even thinking that he had roles in previous wars and battles, believing in the concept of reincarnation.  He felt he was destined, because of past lives, to become a general and warrior.  Mosby, a colonel, was far more controversial after the war.

Oct 14, 2010 12:43 PM #18
Rainmaker
179,204
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Enjoyed it thoroughly Jay.  Thanks for the history.  Really.

Oct 14, 2010 01:44 PM #19
Rainmaker
1,245,207
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Glad you did Jack!  I will have a follow up.  Plan to go up the road to Warrenton and stop in at the gravesite and take a couple of photos.  They will be included with the post.

Oct 14, 2010 01:46 PM #20
Rainer
25,074
Bill Warner
BC Warner Inspections - Dayton, OH
Infrared Thermal Inspector

Thank you Jay for all these history posts!  I REALLY enjoy them!

Oct 14, 2010 02:08 PM #21
Rainmaker
1,245,207
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I'm glad you do too Bill.  They are very fun to research and to travel around my area getting photos and putting together the posts.

Oct 14, 2010 02:11 PM #22
Rainer
370,054
Tish Lloyd
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Wilmington, NC
Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches

Jay ~  Thank you so much for this post!  The photos are excellent and brought back so many memories of my days spent in that very courtroom as a Court Reporter.  Wonderful history lesson!

Oct 14, 2010 10:44 PM #23
Rainmaker
351,538
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

Jay, thanks for taking the time to write such a historical, informative blog.  Virginia certainly has a rich and diverse history.

Oct 14, 2010 11:47 PM #24
Rainmaker
1,245,207
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Tish.  It was fun to research and write.  And getting Mosby's crew to sit still long enough for that photo was a job in itself!  Did you know that George and Martha Washington's wills are still in that building?

Damon - I have a bunch more here on AR too.  You might enjoy them.  You can read them on my website too under Jay's History Blogs.     www.jaymarinspect.com

Oct 15, 2010 06:49 AM #25
Rainer
370,054
Tish Lloyd
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Wilmington, NC
Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches

Jay, yes I certainly am.  It is well worth the visit just to see them.  By the way, showing houses all afternoon and found myself looking for gutters and paying particular attention to the roof angels.

Oct 16, 2010 12:10 AM #26
Rainmaker
1,245,207
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, Tish, with enough blog information we might make a home inspector out of you yet!

Oct 16, 2010 06:28 AM #27
Rainmaker
220,756
Jeremy Wrenn
Wrenn Home Improvements - Wake Forest, NC
President, Wrenn Home Improvements

Wow, thanks for sending me the link to this.  I had no idea who he was, although I had heard the term "Gray Ghost" before.  Very interesting!

Sep 05, 2011 02:12 PM #28
Rainmaker
1,245,207
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Jeremy - he was all over where I live.  I actually live in what local historians call the Mosby Heritage Area.

Sep 05, 2011 04:31 PM #29
Rainmaker
220,756
Jeremy Wrenn
Wrenn Home Improvements - Wake Forest, NC
President, Wrenn Home Improvements

Neat!  I'll keep that in mind if we're looking for a hisotical area to investigate!

Sep 05, 2011 04:35 PM #30
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Rainmaker
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