American Civil War: John S. Mosby Engraving & Signature – “The Grey Ghost”
JOHN S. MOSBY (1833-1916) was a prominent Confederate officer known as “The Grey Ghost” | Mosby led his Partisan Rangers on numerous raids against Union forces and supply trains | This handsome display includes Mosby’s Signature on a small card adding the date “Nov 27, 1912” | The historical piece is matted with an original civil war engraved portrait of Commander Mosby
JOHN S. MOSBY (1833-1916) was a prominent Confederate officer known as “The Grey Ghost” | Mosby led his Partisan Rangers on numerous raids against Union forces and supply trains | This handsome display includes Mosby’s Signature on a small card adding the date “Nov 27, 1912” | The historical piece is matted with an original civil war engraved portrait of Commander Mosby | Entire Piece is framed under archival glass | Very Good Condition with some mat burn.
John Singleton Mosby (December 6, 1833 – May 30, 1916), also known by his nickname, the “Gray Ghost“, was a Confederate army cavalry battalion commander in the American Civil War. 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. The area of northern central Virginia in which Mosby operated with impunity was known during the war and ever since as Mosby’s Confederacy. After the war, Mosby became a Republican and worked as an attorney and supported his former enemy’s commander, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. He also served as the American consul to Hong Kong and in the U.S. Department of Justice.
During the Civil War:
Although he had opposed secession, Mosby enlisted as a private in a company that was soon incorporated into the 1st Virginia Cavalry. In February 1862, he was promoted to first lieutenant and served as adjutant of the 1st Virginia, but he clashed with the regiment’s commander, William “Grumble” Jones. He resigned in April, becoming a staff courier and scout for J.E.B. “Jeb” Stuart. In Stuart, Mosby found a hero to emulate. Intelligence information Mosby provided aided Stuart’s famed “Ride Around McClellan” during the Peninsula Campaign of June 1862. In July 1862, Mosby was briefly a Union prisoner before being exchanged. During the course of the war he would be wounded seven times, and would lose an eye in a carriage accident in the 1890s; for someone who had been a sickly youth, he proved quite resilient.
In early 1863, he was authorized to recruit a group of partisans. Both Stuart and Robert E. Lee wanted the horsemen Mosby recruited to be under the command of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, but Mosby preferred operating outside the traditional military structure and argued that guerrilla actions would be useful in defense of Virginia and the Confederacy. He sought and received permission from Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon to organize a partisan unit; Company A, 43rd Virginia Cavalry Battalion, became part of the Provisional Army of Confederate States (PACS). Mosby was promoted to major, rising to full colonel before war’s end.
Since his men were not a traditional army unit, they could be called together to strike a selected target, then disperse afterward, making them hard to run to ground. This ability to strike quickly and then “disappear” gave rise to Mosby’s nickname, “Gray Ghost” (which was used as the title of a television series about him in 1957-58, starring Tod Andrews, and of a 1980s board game based on his exploits). Mosby himself, wearing a disguise, would often reconnoiter an area for a raid.
Mosby and his partisan rangers leaped to fame in a raid on the town of Fairfax Court House on March 9, 1863. With just 29 men, he captured Union brigadier general Edwin H. Stoughton, along with a number of horses. He also came close once to capturing a train on which General Ulysses S. Grant was a passenger. His primary area of operations in Northern Virginia became known as “Mosby’s Confederacy,” but he and his men raided as far north as Pennsylvania.
Mostly, Mosby’s Rangers (also called Mosby’s Raiders) disrupted supply lines, captured Union couriers, provided intelligence to the regular Confederate army, and generally became a thorn in the side of Federal officers operating in northern Virginia—so much so that some started executing guerrillas and Mosby retaliated by executing prisoners. He wrote to Gen. Phil Sheridan, commanding in the Shenandoah Valley, proposing that both sides end the executions, and Sheridan agreed. Mosby was still a wanted man, however. As a partisan, he was devoid of the protection under military law that he would have enjoyed as a member of the regular army.
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JOHN S. MOSBY
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Civil War Commander John Singleton Mosby Signature & Engraving