One of the Civil War’s legendary figures, John Singleton Mosby was a Confederate colonel whose 'hit and run' style of warfare earned him the nickname 'the Gray Ghost.' Mosby first entered the war as a private and soon impressed his superiors with his skill at gathering intelligence on Union troop movements. In 1863 J.E.B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee gave Mosby command of a small cavalry unit and unleashed him in central Virginia, where he began tormenting Union positions. A true guerrilla force, Mosby’s small posse was known for carrying out blistering attacks on Union outfits and destroying rail lines and bridges before scattering into the woods and blending with the civilian population.
Rather than meeting its enemies in open battle, Mosby’s unit would often slip behind Union lines under cover of darkness and capture soldiers and supplies. In one infamous raid in Fairfax County, Virginia, Mosby’s Rangers crept around Union defenses and proceeded to capture 30 soldiers, 50 horses and several officers without ever firing a shot. According to his memoirs, Mosby personally captured General Edwin H. Stoughton by waking him from his bed with a slap to the back. Mosby continued to operate with impunity in Virginia until the end of the war; the regions he haunted became known as 'Mosby’s Confederacy.' When Robert E. Lee surrendered in 1865, Mosby disbanded his unit and returned to civilian life.
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