Wednesday, May 14, 2014

March 26, 1864 (Wednesday): Mosby Reports

Lt. Colonel J. S. Mosby

FAUQUIER, March 26, 1864.
Major-General STUART,
Commanding Cavalry Corps:
GENERAL: I received a few moments ago Major McClellan's note with reference to the movements of the enemy along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. I made a reconnaissance over there yesterday
with a few men. Heretofore they have had all their cavalry camped at Halltown. They had no picket-line covering the railroad until last Saturday, when they formed a chain of pickets extending all along the pike from near Charlestown to Smithfield, thence to a small village (Gorrettown [Ganotown?]), I think near North Mountain. This is evidently designed to cover some movement, though what it is I was unable to ascertain, as they have been very vigilant and rigid in preventing ingress and egress from their lines. I learned,however, that some engineers within the last few days a survey of the Winchester and Potomac Railroad, and that they had already commenced laying the rail. The heavy cavalry detail required to picket closely such an extended from would indicate that it was but a temporary arrangement, as they have never done anything of the kind even when the valley was occupied by much larger force.
    Milroy has again been placed in command at Harper's Ferry. The impression among citizens is that a movement up the valley is contemplated. I will send another scout over to-morrow. I would be glad if you would furnish me with $2,000 secret-service money, as with my present opportunities I could use greatly to the public advantage. In the event of getting it, I propose investing it in tobacco,and then converting it into greenbacks. This could be done without march loss in the difference of currency. Should you furnish it, my brother, William Mosby, the bearer, will take charge of it.
Please grant no papers to any man coming to join my command unless he can furnish evidence of having been recruited by an agent of mine. The enrolling officer in Richmond has assumed to enlist men for me, and I have had the trouble of sending them back. Please have the inclosed paper* returned to him. You can very readily understand how necessary it is for success in my operations to have none but first-rate men. If the swollen waters do not prevent, I propose an expedition into the valley to-morrow for the purpose of capturing some cavalry outposts. I had a good thing on them to-day, but my designs were frustrated by the escape of two prisoners. I shall endeavor to keep you posted with regard to operations in the rear. I have procured a fine electrician, who will be with me in a few days, which I am in hopes will add greatly to my facilities for procuring a knowledge of their movements.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    JNO. S. MOSBY,

In the event of a forward movement either by our army or the enemy I would like to be informed.

*Not found. 

Official Records Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Pages 1240-1241.

It is something of a surprise to read in 1864 of Mosby's procuring of a "fine electrician".  It most likely referred to someone able to install and operate telegraph lines.  Mosby was a character in a war full of them.  He was excellent at small unit tactics and practical enough not to want more men in his command than he could effectively utilize.  He also used funds to pay for spies in the valley.  In many ways Mosby and his men were forerunners of small unit raiders in wars to come.

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