No other Confederate officer had the mystique of John Singleton Mosby, a talented and heroic cavalry officer. He was an unlikely hero. As a sickly child Mosby was often bullied, but he learned to fight back at an early age.
When the Civil War began, Mosby opposed secession, but decided to leave his law practice to join the Confederate army as a private, serving in the “Virginia Volunteers.” This was a company of mounted infantry, that fought at the first Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas).
Mosby’s exceptional skill at intelligence gathering caught the eye of J.E.B. Stuart. He was promoted to First Lieutenant and assigned to Stuart’s cavalry scouts, and later on gained command of the 43rd Virginia Cavalry, as a Major.
He and his “Mosby’s Rangers” started a campaign of lightning raids on Federal supply lines and harassing their couriers. His ability to appear and disappear at will, blending in with local farmers and townsmen, earned him the name “The Gray Ghost.” With with each success, his fame grew.
March of 1863, at Fairfax County Courthouse, he managed to capture Union Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton. When Mosby found Stoughton asleep in bed, he woke him up with a slap on the rear, and asked,
“Do you know Mosby, General?”
The General replied,
“Yes! Have you got the rascal?”
“No,” said Mosby. “He’s got you!”
Mosby with his 29 Rebels captured the Union general, two captains, 30 enlisted men, and 58 horses without firing a shot.
The area of northern central Virginia where Mosby conducted his raids was known during the war and ever since as “Mosby’s Confederacy.”