Confederate History Month

Anyone who knows anything about Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby, knows that the main character in my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray, resembles him in character. So for today’s post I thought I’d take a few excerpts from my favorite book about Mosby, written by one of his young raiders, John Munson (Reminiscences of a Mosby Guerrilla).

After explaining how Mosby’s Rangers came about and how they operated, Munson says: It is perhaps justifiable and reasonable at this juncture to state that Mosby’s Guerrillas were not highwaymen, bushwackers or ruffians, and that they did not war upon any element other than that commonly recognized as the enemy.

A very large percentage of them were well-bred, refined gentlemen and some of them had traveled widely; they regarded Mosby’s Command as the proper channel through which to express their feelings on a subject that made action of some sort necessary. These were men of firm convictions, for which they were anxious to fight and willing to make sacrifices.

Munson went on to point out that Dr. A Montiero, who was surgeon of Mosby’s Command during the last few months of the war, says in his published memoirs: ‘I am enabled to say, after three years of active field service in the regular army, that I have never witnessed more true courage and chivalry, or a higher sense of honor, blended with less vice, selfishness and meanness, then I found during my official intercourse with the Partizan Rangers.’

Munson continues: Mosby made his reports to Generals Lee and Stuart and worked in harmony with them. The particular mission of the Partizan Rangers was to keep the Confederate Generals informed of the enemy’s movements while “worrying and harassing” the Federal forces as much as possible.

Every man in Mosby’s Command understood that he was expected to follow his Commander without question, and the result was a blind unwavering faith in their leader. Mosby never asked a trooper under him to go where he would not go himself. This example spread itself and made its influence felt throughout the entire Command, and I recall an occasion where Lieutenant Ben Palmer, of Richmond, Va., who was only a boy, during a fight, ordered one of the men, Bob Jarman, to get down and open a gate so we might dash through it at the enemy. The man was shot down as he touched the gate. A second man, Ben Iden, was ordered to open it, and he also suffered a similar fate. Then it was time to show, by example, what it meant to command and to obey, and Lieutenant Palmer jumped down and opened the gate and, remounting his little grey thoroughbred, led the charge to a brilliant victory.

In after years Munson said he commented to the Colonel on the Command’s invariable willingness to go where he directed, without being in any way informed of the work to be done, or the purpose or the reason for it.

‘Munson,’ he replied, ‘only three men in the Confederate army knew what I was doing or intended to do; they were Lee and Stuart and myself; so don’t feel lonesome about it.’


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