Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17, 1863 (Thursday): The Partisan Mosby

Major John Singleton Mosby

Report of Major John S. Mosby, C. S. Army.
September 30, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the force under my command from about August 20 to the present time:
    On the morning of August 24, with about 30 men, I reached a point (Annandale) immediately on the enemy's line of communication. Leaving the whole command, except 3 men who accompanied me, in the woods concealed, I proceeded on a reconnaissance along the railroad to ascertain if there were any bridges unguarded. I discovered there were three. I returned to the command just as a drove of horses, with a cavalry escort of about 50 men, was passing. These I determined to attack and to await until night to burn the bridges. I ordered Lieutenant Turner to take one-half of the men and charge them in front, while with the remainder I attacked their rear.
     In the meantime the enemy had been joined by another party, making their number about 63. When I overtook them they had dismounted at Gooding's Tavern to water their horses. My men went at them with a yell that terrified the Yankees and scattered them in all directions. A few taking shelter under cover of the houses opened fire upon us. They were soon silenced, however.
    At the very moment when I had succeeded in routing them I was compelled to retire from the fight, having been shot through the side and thigh. My men, not understanding it, followed me, which gave time to the Yankees to escape to the woods. But for this accident the whole party would have been captured. As soon as I perceived this I ordered the men to go back, which a portion of them did just as Lieutenant Turner, who had met and routed another force above, came gallantry charging up.
     Over 100 horses fell into our possession, though a good many were lost in bringing them out at night; also 12 prisoners, arms, &c. I learn that 6 of the enemy were killed.
      Lieutenant Smith, of the Black House, then on duty with me, acted, as he always does, with conspicuous gallantry. Lieutenant Turner, on whom the command devolved, showed himself fully competent for the trust.
     In this affair my loss was 2 killed and 3 wounded. Among the killed was Norment E. Smith, who, thus early terminating a career of great usefulness and of brilliant promise, has left the memory of a name that will not be forgotten till honor, virtue, courage, all, shall cease to claim the homage of the heart.
     I afterward directed Lieutenant Turner to burn the bridges. He succeeding in burning one.
During my absence from the command Lieutenant Turner attacked an outpost of the enemy near Waterloo, killing 2 and capturing 4 men and 27 horses. About September 15, he captured 3 wagons, 20 horses, 7 prisoners, and a large amount of sutler's goods near Warrenton Junction.
     On the 20th and 21st instant, I conducted an expedition along the enemy's line of communication, in which important information obtained was forwarded to the army headquarters, and I succeeded in capturing 9 prisoners and 21 fine horses and mules.

     On the 27th and 28th instant, I made a reconnaissance in the vicinity of Alexandria, capturing Colonel Dulaney, aide to the bogus governor Peirpoint, several horses, and burning the railroad bridge across Cameron's Run, which was immediately under cover of the guns of two forts.
     The military value of the pieces of warfare I have waged is not measured by the number of prisoners and material of war captured from the enemy, but by the heavy detail it has already compelled him to make, and which I hope to make him increase, in order to guard his communications, and to that extent diminishing his aggressive strength.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     JNO. S. MOSBY.
     Major General J. E. B. STUART,
     Commanding Cavalry Division.


October 5, 1863.
    Respectfully forwarded, and recommended that Major Mosby be promoted another grade in recognition of his valuable services. The capture of these prominent Union officials, as well as the destruction of bridges, trains, &c., was the subject of special instructions which he is faithfully carrying out.

     J. E. B. STUART,

November 17, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded.
    Major Mosby is entitled to great credit for his boldness and skill in his operations against the enemy. He keeps them in constant apprehension and inflict repeated injuries. I have hoped that he would have been able to raise his command sufficiently for the command of a lieutenant-colonel, and to have it regularly mustered into service. I am not aware that it numbers over four companies.

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 1, Pages 80-81.

Mosby had served as a scout for Stuart and in January of 1863 formed a band of partisan rangers engaging in guerrilla warfare in the Loudoun Valley of Northern Virginia.  His command was usually less than 300 men and while effective in tying down Union resources was not large enough to warrant the promotion requested by Stuart.  In any event, it was not likely Mosby would have wanted his command to be brought into normal military organization and convention.

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