The Civil War, Day by Day

While the Enemy Rests

Mosby’s Rangers

Hapless Union cavalry in northern Virginia could do little against Mosby’s horsemen, who lived off the country, struck quickly, then melted back into the population after a raid.

Below lay the invaders. Swept into the South by the winds of war, their armies lay in countless encampments like this one throughout the Southern homeland - their campfires blinking in the dark of night. Americans too - and once countrymen - now they had come South as the enemy. Deceptively peaceful looking in their nighttime camps, their armies now ranked among the world’s most powerful. To the Shedandoah Valley they brought the worst of war. Homes, barns and mills were burned. Livestock was destroyed. Life on the Confederate homefront became much harder.

But Dixie’s defenders did not give up easily - and no Confederate commander fought harder or better than Lieutenant Colonel John Singleton Mosby. For almost a year, Mosby and his partisan rangers - the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry - had struck Northern outposts, raided supply lines, disrupted troop movements - and had even captured a Federal general in his bed. So effective were “Mosby’s Rangers” that Virginia’s Fauquier and Loudoun Counties were called “Mosby’s Confederacy.”

On December 1, 1864, almost a year-and-a-half of war lay ahead. Mosby, soon to be promoted to colonel, would plan more surprise attacks, strike more wagon trains, capture more enemy troops, arms and equipment. In the end, although he and his rangers would have diverted thousands of Northern troops from the front lines, the best efforts of even “Mosby’s Rangers” could not win Southern independence. Although he would disband his battalion rather than surrender, John S. Mosby would again provide leadership - setting an example of postwar reconciliation. Meanwhile, he had bequeathed to all America an enduring legacy - as the “Gray Ghost” of the Confederacy.

December's Archived Features:

Saturday December 1, 2018
Sunday December 2, 2018
Monday December 3, 2018
Tuesday December 4, 2018
Wednesday December 5, 2018
Thursday December 6, 2018
Friday December 7, 2018
Saturday December 8, 2018
Sunday December 9, 2018
Monday December 10, 2018
Tuesday December 11, 2018
Wednesday December 12, 2018
Thursday December 13, 2018
Friday December 14, 2018
Saturday December 15, 2018



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2018. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.