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John Singleton Mosby Edit Profile

Lawyer , military

John Singleton Mosby was an American lawyer and Civil War soldier.


John Singleton Mosby was born in Powhatan County, Virginia, United States on December 6, 1833.


He attended the University of Virginia and was practicing law in Bristol, Va. , when the Civil War began.


Joining a cavalry company organized at nearby Abingdon, Mosby fought in the early Shenandoah Valley operations and in the first battle of Manassas, rising eventually to the rank of colonel. During the spring of 1862 he performed scouting duty that drew the attention of Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart, who soon added him to his staff as a scout.

In December 1862 Mosby was given authority to organize a partisan command. He recruited a battalion of independent cavalry that finally numbered about 800 men and that operated mostly in northern Virginia. Mosby, who weighed just 125 pounds dressed for the saddle, developed and glorified the art of guerrilla warfare. Employing a system of strategems, surprises, and nocturnal attacks to offset the advantage of numbers, he operated behind enemy lines most of the time.

Armed with revolvers--he deplored the saber as too noisy for guerrilla movements and ineffective in hand-to-hand fighting--he and his men cut communications, captured despatches and wagon trains, and generally conducted such a campaign that the Union forces were obliged to strengthen their pickets and contract their lines. Numerous expeditions were sent to capture him, but largely through the cooperation of the friendly population in the area he was warned in time to elude them. The district that harbored him, especially Loudoun Valley, was repeatedly ravaged in retaliation. Mosby himself estimated that the activities of his small command kept 30, 000 men from Grant's army. It also seems probable that his operations, coupled with those of other guerrilla leaders in the area, delayed the end of the war six months or longer. After the war Mosby resumed the practice of law, in Warrenton, Va.

In 1872, hoping to further peace between the North and the South, he supported Grant in his second campaign for the presidency, helping the Republicans to carry Virginia for the first time in history. This caused many of his Southern friends to turn against him, and their anger was deepened when Mosby sided with Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876. At this time he wrote a letter to the New York Herald in which the phrase "the solid South" first appeared. Fearing for Mosby's life because of Southern hostility, in 1878 Grant persuaded President Hayes to appoint him consul to Hong Kong. Mosby served there seven years, and after his return to the United States he gave a series of lectures on his wartime operations, which were published as Mosby's War Reminiscences (1887). From 1904 to 1910 Mosby was an assistant attorney in the Department of Justice.


  • His command, the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, known as Mosby's Rangers or Mosby's Raiders, was a partisan ranger unit noted for its lightning-quick raids and its ability to elude Union Army pursuers and disappear, blending in with local farmers and townsmen.


Victoria Stuart Mosby Coleman

Pauline V. Mosby

Ada B. Mosby

John Singleton Mosby Jr.

Lincoln Mosby

Alfred McLaurine Mosby

George Prentiss Mosby