John Singleton Mosby was a Confederate ranger who fought for the South in the United States Civil war. He was raised near Charlottesville, Virginia, and got his education at the University of Virginia. Mosby is best known for taking a small band of men, and through some unusual tactics, disrupting the flow of supplies to Northern soldiers in the hope of weakening them.
Although the Northern United States ultimately won the Civil War, it is important to learn about all aspects of history. So, let’s dive into some facts about this noted man.
John Mosby Facts
1. John Mosby shot someone at college.
It was Mosby’s third year at the University of Virginia when he shot a fellow student. Now, the student in question was a bully who had threatened Mosby, so it could have possibly been seen as self-defense. However, the court didn’t think so, and Mosby was arrested for unlawful shooting. The student he shot was injured, but didn’t die. After serving seven months of his twelve month long sentence, Mosby was pardoned by the Governor of Virginia, an interesting fact about John Mosby.
2. He was a lawyer before the war.
Before the Civil war, Mosby was a lawyer. In 1855 he passed the BAR exam, which is a requirement to practice law, and started working in a town called Howardsville. This town was fairly close to his home, about 25 miles south of Charlottesville. There, Mosby met his future wife, Pauline Clark. They went on to have 7 kids.
Once the Civil War started, John Mosby joined the Confederate army. At first, he worked mostly as a scout, gathering information about the area and the enemy that could aid in upcoming battles. Speaking of battles, he saw combat action at the Battle of Bull Run.
3. Mosby’s band only consisted of nine men.
In 1863, John Mosby set off to serve the South in another way. He took nine men and created a small band of fighters called Mosby’s Rangers. These men broke off from the normal troops in order to move more freely and unpredictably. An interesting fact about John Mosby is that the group’s primary mission was to cut communication and steal supplies from the North. Since there were only nine of them, they tended to strike isolated camps. They got their supplies by stealing from the Northern camps and outposts, and the men scattered when they met trouble. Later, they would meet up at a secret time and place they agreed upon beforehand to regroup.
4. Mosby’s Rangers were not like traditional troops.
The men that John Mosby led into battle were very different than the traditional troops of soldiers that the North was used to seeing. Mosby’s Rangers were so different, in fact, that the North didn’t even see them as soldiers. In the North’s eyes, Mosby and his men were nothing but a band of criminals. To be fair, Mosby’s men acted a little like bandits. They set up camp and slept wherever they pleased, and most of their supplies and equipment consisted of goods they stole from the enemy.
5. Others joined his exploits
Although John Mosby started out with only nine men following him, his exploits soon became known throughout the South, and others wanted to join in. By 1865, the small band of men who had only what they stole became eight companies of highly trained, well-equipped soldiers.
6. He had one great victory
John Mosby and his men made trouble for the North, but they only had one great victory. They executed one attack that is most remembered by history. Mosby’s rangers were able to get into the enemy’s territory and capture a Northern General, as well as 100 of his men. An interesting fact about John Mosby is that this victory put Mosby in the spotlight, which allowed him to advance his military rank to Captain, Major, and eventually Colonel.
7. John Mosby didn’t surrender until after Robert E. Lee did.
One thing can be said about John Mosby, he didn’t want to give up. The final raid Mosby’s rangers participated in took place a day after Robert E. Lee surrendered, after the Civil War technically ended. Back in those times, communication wasn’t as fast, so it is possible Mosby hadn’t heard the war ended yet. However, he didn’t tell his men to go home until eleven days later, and John Mosby didn’t personally surrender until two months after the war was already over.
8. The South turned on him.
After the Civil War finished, and Mosby finally surrendered, he returned to practicing law in Virginia. Even though the South lost the war, John Mosby was hailed as a hero of the Confederacy. At least, he was at first. Mosby entered politics as a Republican, which was the party of the North, and supported Ulysses S. Grant, someone the South considered an enemy. Public opinion on Mosby in the South suffered. An interesting fact about John Mosby is that someone hated Mosby so much that they tried to kill him. Mosby survived the assassination attempt, and Grant, who was now a good friend, gave him a job in Hong Kong while the South calmed down.
Even though John Mosby was on the losing side of the war, he was not bitter about it. Later in life, he preferred to look to the future, rather than the past. He served the United States in several ways after the war. From 1878 to 1885, he lived in Hong Kong as a representative of the United States and an advocate for its citizens. From 1904 to 1910, Mosby served as an assistant attorney in the Justice department.
John Mosby left behind two books about his life and times during the Civil War: Mosby’s War Reminiscences, and Stuart’s Cavalry Campaigns and Stuart’s Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign.
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