Just for fun, I thought I’d share some information from James J. Williamson’s book Mosby’s Rangers on what it was like in October, 1864, for Mosby’s men. For those of you who are new to my blog, Colonel John S. Mosby is the real-life Confederate cavalry officer whom the fictional character Colonel Alexander Hunter is based upon in my novel Shades of Gray .
In Chapter XXI, Williamson explains that while Union General Augur was in possession of the area, Mosby’s men did not sleep in their “safe” houses, fearing they would be surprised in the middle of the night. Instead, they built shebangs in the woods where they could not be seen.
According to Williamson, the shebangs were made of poles, covered with brush or cornstalks; and when the floor was spread with dry leaves and covered with blankets, afforded a comfortable lodging place. “We slept as soundly in our little shebangs as in feather beds, except when some careless, sleepy fellow forgot to take off his spurs, and in drawing up or stretching out his feet under the blankets, would rake the shins of his unfortunate neighbor.
Williamson concludes by saying that Mosby had a different approach to staying safe. He and one or two companions would “frequently mount their horses after dark and go to the house of some friend near a Federal camp, and remain there all night, deeming that the safest place for a good night’s sleep.”
If you don’t understand that, you would have to know Mosby. He rightfully assumed that the Yankees would never look for him right under their noses.