John Singleton Mosby (1833 – 1916)

Virginia Jackson McLaurine Mosby

“On December 6, Virginia McLaurine Mosby, wife of Alfred Daniel Mosby, gave birth to a son and named him John Singleton, after his paternal grandfather.  Mosby lived in Nelson Co., VA until the age of six when his father moved to adjoining Albemarle Co, four miles from Charlottesville and within viewing distance of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.  After showing proficiency in Greek during grade school, he enrolled at the University of Virginia on October 3, 1850.  But after shooting a fellow student after a dispute, Mosby was expelled from the University,” (He was sentenced to a one year term in prison and a $500 fine.  Her served part of that time, and began studying law.  Several of the jurors and his father petitioned for his release based on his ill health and he was released, according to Wikipedia.) ” and took up several months of study in a local law office.  He soon passed the bar and set up his own practice in nearby Howardsville, also in Albemarle Co.

A town visitor, Pauline Clark, captured Mosby’s affection.  After courting her, he moved to her hometown of Bristol, on the Tennessee border.  On December 30, 1857 they were married.  Their first child, a daughter named May, was born May 10, 1859. ” (One one child was born before the war and one during.  Pauline died following the birth of their son Albert, according to information from Wikipedia and the Mosby on-line Museum.)” and when Virginia followed other Southern States and voted to secede from the Union following Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency in 1860, Mosby decided to enlist in the Confederate Army.

John S Mosby

At first Mosby followed a local company of infantry, but quickly transferred to the cavalry corps of General J.E.B. Stuart, and became acquainted with the duties of a scout.  Before too long, however, Mosby became anxious to form his own command, that would not be bound by traditional army conventions.  In January 1863, Stuart approved Mosby’s plan and gave him a few men to begin his operation.  Mosby and his partisan rangers were later incorporated into the regular Confederate army.

Mosby's Rangers

Their primary objective consisted of destroying railroad supply lines between Washington and Northern Virginia, as well as intercepting dispatches and horses and capturing Union soldiers.  Mosby’s numbers rose from one dozen to a few hundred by the end of the war.  Mosby’s rank likewise rose steadily: his final promotion to colonel came in January 1865. General Robert E. Lee cited Mosby for meritorious service more often that any other Confederate officer during the course of the war.

Mosby retreated to self-imposed exile after the war until he acquired his parole from General U.S. Grant.  He settled down in Warrenton, VA in  Fauquier Co. to re-establish his law practice.  Politics, however, called to him.  When General Grant became president in 1869, Mosby visited him in the White House and offered his support.  Mosby publicly backed the Republican in his 1872 re-election bid, and Grant carried Virginia.  Under Hayes, Grant’s successor, Mosby became a consul to Hong Kong (1878-1885).

After returning to the United States, he became active on the lecture circuit and penned his war reminiscences and several other works for magazines and newspapers ,” (One of those article appears in another account of Mosby’s life and relationship to the Ware line on this website.) ” spreading his account of his exploits during the war.”  (He was also a lawyer for the Southern Pacific Railroad in San Francisco, and he worked as Assistant Attorney General for the Department of the Interior, 1904-1910.)

“After a series of physical debilitations, Mosby died on May 30, 1916 at the age of 82.”

Mosby stated he disapproved of slavery, but thought it was his duty to represent the south, right or wrong, because he was a Virginian.  I believe this memorial sums up his feelings about War.

File:John S. Mosby inscription in Scranton, PA MG 1534.JPG

Sources:  Audria Bird, great-great-granddaughter, with her permission, Wikipedia, Dixie Belgium, The Mosby Museum, and Civil War Trust, on-line history of John Singleton Mosby.  Mosby’s grandmother, was Jane Harrison Ware, daughter of Capt. John Ware, my 4th great-grandfather.

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