Since I neglected to write about Colonel John Mosby’s first raid as a captain that occurred the first week of March in 1863, I thought I’d pick up on what took place later in the month.
To give a brief summary of that first excursion, however, since it outdoes even what the main character in my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray ever achieved, Mosby captured a Union general, two captains, 30 privates and 58 horses from a heavily fortified, Federally-occupied town (Fairfax).
And typical of the behavior of Colonel Alexander Hunter in Shades of Gray, Mosby did not tell any of the 29 men he had with him that day where they were going or what they were going to be doing. (Notice that he took more prisoners and horses than he had men).
Anyway, after delivering his prisoners from the Fairfax raid to Culpeper, Mosby was off again on another expedition.
Here is an account written by Ranger James Williamson in his book “Mosby’s Rangers.”
Starting from Rector’s X Roads on the 23rd of March, he proceeded down the turnpike until within about six miles of Chantilly, when he left the road, though still keeping the same direction. Coming out from a piece of woods within a mile of the Chantilly mansion, he moved towards the picket posted on a little run on the Little River Turnpike. Seeing the vedettes, some of our men left the ranks and dashed off in pursuit. They suddenly came upon a picket of 10 men which had been thrown out on the turnpike. One was killed and 5 or 6 surrendered and were taken back to Mosby.
The alarm being given, the reserves were called out, and Mosby finding the force quite a large one, fell back up the turnpike, the Federals following.
Halting at a place where there was a barricade of fallen trees, Mosby formed his men behind this obstruction and awaited their coming. On they came, but in the pursuit they were strung out along the road, and on receiving Mosby’s fire, wavered.
A charge was now ordered; the Rangers rushed forward with a yell and the fight became a chase. The Federals were driven back and could not be rallied.
The chase was continued for about three miles, back to the place where it commenced. Here the Federals were reinforced by the reserve from Frying Pan Church, and Mosby was compelled to halt and then retreat. The enemy did not pursue very far, as night was coming on, and they were afraid of being led into a trap.
Mosby sustained no loss. The Federals lost 5 killed, several wounded, and 35 prisoners were taken.
In response to his dispatch, General Stuart sent the following to Mosby:
Headquarters, Cavalry Division
Army of Northern Virginia, March 27, 1863
Captain: Your telegram, announcing your brilliant achievements near Chantilly, was duly received and forwarded to General Lee. He exclaimed upon reading it, “Hurrah for Mosby! I wish I had a hundred like him!”
Heartily wishing you continued success, I remain
Your obedient servant