While re-arranging my bookshelves the other day, I ran across my favorite Mosby book, written by one of his men, John Munson. Most people know that the main character in my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray is based on Mosby. For those who are not familiar with this Confederate colonel, here is a glimpse of what life was like in his independent command from Munson:
Mosby sometimes did his scouting alone, but generally he was accompanied by one or more men, selected because of their intimate knowledge of a certain part of the country to which he was going.
Under cover of the night he would move with the stealth that would have put an Indian to shame. No sabre was ever worn on such a trip and if a spur or a curb chain jingled it was taken off.
Mosby was the fastest “scouter” I ever knew, and in the saddle could cover a dozen objective points, over a course of fifty miles from sunset to sunrise, gathering information of vital importance at each halt. He would send out messengers whenever necessary from any point wherever it seemed advisable to do so, regardless of the hour of day or night, or the proximity of friend or foe. I never knew one of his messengers to go wrong. No one ever heard of one of Mosby’s dispatches being captured.
Horses, of course, were indispensable to Mosby’s men. On whatever else we were obliged, or chose, to stint ourselves, it was necessary to have good horses. Nearly all the men kept at least two, and many of us who rode constantly had more. The work was too hard for one horse. I have known the Colonel to have six at one time, all of them fine animals, but generally half his stud would be temporarily disabled from hard riding or wounds.
Each man kept his horses at the farm-house where he made his home, and there was not a barn or corral owned by our friendly allies that did not contain one or more of Mosby’s cavalry horses, waiting to be saddled for a long, hard ride.