Mosby, John Singleton

Mosby, John Singleton

(môz`bē), 1833–1916, Confederate partisan leader in the American Civil War, b. Edgemont, Va. He was practicing law in Bristol, Va., when the Civil War broke out. Mosby served brilliantly in the cavalry under J. E. B. Stuart until Jan., 1863, when he began his partisan operations in N Virginia—soon called "Mosby's Confederacy." Moving swiftly and secretly, Mosby's men (who never numbered more than 200) continually routed Union cavalry, destroyed communications, appropriated supplies, and were, in general, a great nuisance to the Army of the Potomac. Perhaps Mosby's most famous exploit was the capture of a Union general, caught asleep in his bed, at Fairfax Courthouse in Mar., 1863. Protected by the people of the region, Mosby's partisan rangers eluded the strong forces sent to capture them and were active until Robert E. Lee surrendered. Mosby secured his parole only through the intercession of Ulysses S. Grant, of whom he became a great admirer. He joined the Republican party and later held various minor government positions. He wrote Mosby's War Reminiscences and Stuart's Cavalry Campaigns (1887) and Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign (1908).

Bibliography

See C. W. Russell, ed., The Memoirs of Colonel John S. Mosby (1917, repr. 1969); biographies by V. C. Jones (1944), J. Daniels (1959), K. Seipel (1983), and J. A. Ramage (1999).

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Mosby, John Singleton

(1833–1916) soldier; born in Edgemont, Va. As a student at the University of Virginia, he had shot a fellow student; while in jail he began to read law under his defense lawyer. He was practicing law when the Civil War began and he joined the Confederate forces in Virginia, fighting at First Bull Run and scouting for Jeb Stuart. From January 1863 to the end of the Civil War, he operated as a partisan ranger in western Virginia, leading hit-and-run raids against scattered outposts of the federals, who viewed him as an outlaw. (His most famous incident involved his surprising Union Gen. Edwin Stoughton in bed and slapping him on the behind.) He was noted for his gray cape, lined with scarlet, and the large ostrich plume on his hat. He lost popularity in the South for supporting Ulysses Grant for president. He briefly served as U.S. consul in Hong Kong and practiced law in California, but returned to Virginia to a long career as a lawyer.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.