Mosby and his Gray Raiders ride out for a final time
This unique Leonaur book is the final volume of three that gather together the accounts of the men who fought for the cause of the Confederacy during the American Civil War under the inspired and enigmatic leadership of John S. Mosby—the Gray Ghost. Mosby did not originate the daring ‘hit and run’ tactics of guerrilla warfare behind enemy lines, but he was a superb exponent of it and justifiably earned his place in the pantheon of the greatest guerrilla commanders. This volume contains two books. The first, ‘Mosby and his Men’ by Crawford is a very thorough history of the activities of Mosby’s command including many firsthand accounts by soldiers and other observers. Major Scott’s substantial work also provides firsthand accounts principally in the form of letters. There is an abiding fascination with soldiers and units who fight their wars at extreme risk outside the formalities and regimes of the ordered battle lines. These three Leonaur volumes, containing six works—including Mosby’s own wartime memoirs—provide modern readers with possibly the most comprehensive available account of the remarkable Mosby and his men based on firsthand accounts. Highly recommended for students of the Civil War and the Confederacy. Both titles in this volume have been newly typeset by Leonaur to enable them to appear within a single volume, but are complete and unedited.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
Major Gibson performed his part like a soldier, searching every house diligently on his route, except Mr. Hopper’s and Mr. Hartman’s at the foot of the gap. How they overlooked them I am unable to comprehend. Had they given Mr. Hopper a call, five would have been caught sleeping in a feather bed, including the writer. Soldiers, however, you know, are inclined to be superstitious. They remembered the last 18th of February, and that their friends were languishing in Northern prisons from the treachery of one of their own countrymen. Some of the old members had become careless, and returned to their feather-beds. Those that returned, and new ones, were all captured.
While at Mrs. Betsy Edmonds’, Clem Edmonds, George Triplett, and Sam Alexander, heard them from their ranch in the mountains, about half a mile in rear of the house. Saddling their horses, and convincing themselves who they were, they started out and gave the alarm. Proceeding ahead to Lieutenant Wren’s, who was staying at Mr. Brown’s, about one mile distant, they were joined by him and a few others, and followed the enemy up to Piedmont. Reaching this place at daylight, Gibson expected to find the other column. Not hearing anything from them at sunrise, he started back to the Valley, taking the turnpike to Upperville, and thence up to Paris, Lieutenant Wren following him, but not doing anything except keeping them closed up. Every chicken and turkey-roost in their route had been robbed by them, and each man had his turkey or old hen strapped behind his saddle, together with the clothing, &c., which they had taken from the citizens.
At Mr. Chapplier’s, two miles from Piedmont, on the turnpike to Upperville, J. Wright James, our quartermaster, was captured. By this time their presence in our midst became generally known amongst our men; who displaying themselves on the hills and mountains, the enemy became alarmed, and pushed on rapidly from Mr. Chapplier’s to Upperville. Not finding any of our men there except Grafton Carlisle, they pushed on rapidly up the turnpike, and reached Paris about nine o’clock a.m.
Major Richards, in the meanwhile, heard of this party, and having no clothes of his own, he put on a suit of his father’s brown jeans, mounted his horse, and started after them. At Upperville he met with Lieutenant Wren, with a few men. Pushing on up the turnpike, at Paris he was joined by others, who swelled his party to thirty-eight men. In Paris some skirmishing took place between the enemy’s rear-guard and Richards. The enemy retreated rapidly though the Gap, and formed on the other side of the mountain, at Mount Carmel Church, two miles from Paris. The pursuit of Richards was conducted without any order whatever. His thirty-eight men were strung out for one quarter of a mile. But on dashed the gallant Richards. At the foot of Mt. Carmel he ordered the charge.
The enemy, seeing with what resolution the charge was made, and imagining five thousand guerillas were after them, broke and retreated by the road they came. It was a narrow defile through the mountains, just large enough for one wagon to pass. Through this defile or road they had to retreat seven miles, where they were to cross the Shenandoah River by a dangerous ford, before they could entertain any idea of being safe. When they broke and got into this road, Richards’ men closed in on them, and the slaughter was terrible. Along this road, clean down to the river, were strewn the dead, wounded, and prisoners. It was indeed a sickening sight. The snow this entire distance was crimson with the blood of the dead and wounded. Every man of ours they had captured (twenty-five) was retaken, besides one hundred mules and horses they had taken from the citizens (which were returned to them by Richards). Ten or fifteen were killed, eighty odd were captured and wounded, and brought to Paris. Major Gibson was wounded, captured, brought to Paris, and paroled with nine other badly wounded men.
Amongst the prisoners was Lieutenant Baker, of General Merrit’s staff. When he was asked how he happened to be absent from his general, he stated that he had been on one or two of the night “excursions” in the valley, had found them quite exciting and pleasant, and as his friend, Major Gibson, was going on this one, he concluded he would accompany him, and render his assistance in “arresting” us. But he counted the chickens before they were hatched. Their raid as far as Upperville was a decided success. And here their hopes failed them. They knew not at what moment they would be attacked by a set of wolves. Surrounded by these circumstances, very few men would fight with an enemy they did not understand. The men that were able to walk were sent to Richmond. Lieutenant Baker was furnished with a horse, by one of the men, to ride to Culpepper, where they took the cars for Richmond.
Major Richards, in this affair, had one man (John Iden) killed, already a wounded soldier, and one (Dr. Sowers, of Clark’s County,) wounded. The enemy captured John Iden at his brother Tom’s, and took a watch, a family piece, from John. As they were carrying him off prisoner, his aged mother, hearing of the captors’ having taken the watch, went to Lieutenant Baker, stated her case, and he promptly had it returned to her. The enemy, rather chagrined at the conduct of Baker, after they got him away from the house, on the public highway, robbed him of everything. The writer was detailed by Major Richards to take charge of the prisoners and guard. In due course of time we reached Culpepper Court House, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. From there they were sent by rail to Gordonsville, and were that night turned over to Major Boyle, Provost Marshal of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The next morning, while in Major Boyle’s office, awaiting the arrival of the cars, he handed me a lock of hair, which he said Baker had taken from one of the prisoners, who had taken it from the young man that was killed, and asked that it might be returned to his mother. Such an act of feeling was so uncommon in the Yankee Army, I have deemed it worthy of notice here. Feeling a curiosity to know who the person was, I inquired of Major Boyle, who told me he was an Englishman, and the lieutenant I brought out.
I expressed to Major Boyle a desire to visit Richmond, and he placed the prisoners in my charge. The train coming up in a few minutes, after a short stoppage we were soon on our way to the capital. Reaching Richmond at seven o’clock p.m., we marched down Main Street to the Libby Prison, and turned over our prisoners to Major Turner.