1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mosby, John Singleton
|←Mosaic||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 18
Mosby, John Singleton
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MOSBY, JOHN SINGLETON (1833- ), American soldier, was born in Edgemont, Powhatan county, Virginia, on the 6th of December 1833. He graduated at the university of Virginia in 1852, was admitted to the bar in 1855, and practised law in Bristol, Washington county, Virginia, until the beginning of the Civil War, when he joined the cause of the South. He enlisted as a private in the Washington Mounted Rifles, which became a part of General J. E. B. Stuart's 1st Virginia Cavalry, and of which he was adjutant for a time. In June 1862, after having gone over the ground alone on scouting duty, he accompanied Stuart in his ride round McClellan's entire army. Early in 1863 he secured Stuart's permission to undertake a quasi-independent command. In Fairfax county and then in Fauquier and Loudoun counties (known as Mosby's Confederacy), within the Federal lines, he raised, mounted, armed and equipped a force of irregulars. On the night of the 8th of March 1863, with about 30 men, he penetrated the Federal lines at Fairfax Court-House and took 33 prisoners, including Brigadier-General Edwin H. Stoughton, commanding the 2nd Vermont brigade; and he became famous for other such exploits. In the North he was regarded as a guerilla who disregarded the rules of war, and in the autumn of 1864, Sheridan, acting under orders from Grant, shot and hanged seven of Mosby's men without trial; in November Mosby retaliated by hanging seven of Custer's cavalry-men. Eventually, on the 21st of April 1865, twelve days after the surrender of General Lee, he disbanded his men and surrendered; and through the influence of General Grant, who later became his personal friend, he was paroled. He returned to his legal practice, joined the Republican party, canvassed Virginia in 1872 for General Grant, in 1878-1885 was United States consul at Hong-Kong, and after practising law in San Francisco, was assistant attorney in the Federal Department of Justice from 1904 to 1910. He wrote Mosby's Reminiscences and Stuart's Cavalry Campaigns (Boston, 1887), and — a defence of Stuart and of Lee — Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign (New York, 1908).
See J. Marshall Crawford, Mosby and his Men (New York, 1867); A. Monteiro, War Reminiscences by the Surgeon of Mosby's Command (Richmond, Virginia, 1890); James J. Williamson, Mosby's Rangers (New York, 1900); John W. Munson, Reminiscences of a Mosby Guerrilla (New York, 1906); John H. Alexander, Mosby's Men (New York, 1907); and Partisan Life with Mosby (New York, 1867), by John Scott, who drafted the Partisan Ranger Law, under which Mosby's command operated.