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Title: Mosby's War Reminiscences - Stuart's Cavalry Campaigns
Author: Mosby, John Singleton
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Mosby's War Reminiscences

Stuart's Cavalry Campaigns



New York
Dodd, Mead and Company





Opening of Hostilities. Volunteering to serve the Confederacy.
Virginia Brimfull of Patriotism. J. E. B. Stuart showing
Qualities of a Great Leader of Cavalry                              5


Experiences in the Confederate Cavalry. Adventures on the Picket
Line. Capture of a Federal Wagon Train                             14


Christmastide Raids. Why Union Cavalrymen once left their
Turkeys. Cripples who harassed the Federal Camp by Night. Ben
Hatton's Experience as an Unwilling Guide                          27


Harassing the Army of the Potomac. Exciting Raid in Northern
Virginia. The Bucktail Plan to capture Mosby's Command             39


How Major Gilmer tried to capture Mosby's Command. Scared
Vermonters hide in a Miller's Wheat Bins. Sorrow changed to
Happiness at Middleburg, Va.                                       50


Sergeant Ames, of the Fifth New York Cavalry, deserts and joins
Mosby. Old Dr. Drake's Saddle-Bags. Capture of a Federal Picket
at Herndon Station. The Dash and Excitement of a Cavalry
Skirmish. A Shot in the Dark                                       62


Sudden Attacks upon Federal Cavalry Outposts. A Confederate
Blacksmith's Achievements in Arms. A Running Fight How a Repulse
was Turned into a Victory. The Sabre as a Weapon for Cavalrymen    78


The Influence of Martinets and Red Tape on the Confederate
Service. A Hand to Hand Fight with Vermont Cavalry. A Close Call.
The Remorseless Revolver. Impending Defeat turned into Triumph.
The Ludicrous                                                      98


In Pursuit. Elaborate Plans made to capture "Mosby." How a Union
Major-General deceived himself. A Chase that failed to accomplish
its Object. Why a Raid on a Railroad was temporarily postponed    115


In the Saddle. What saved Hooker's Supplies at Chancellorsville.
Cavalry Skirmishes. Raids against Wagon Trains and Railroad
Guards                                                            129


Raid through the Lines of the Union Army. A Wrecked Train. Brave
Spirits who fell by the Little Howitzer                           142


On the Road to Gettysburg. Raid over the Potomac River into
Maryland. Narrow Escape from Capture. Marches at Night in the
Union Columns                                                     154


Gen. Stuart's Raid around the Rear of Hooker's Army. Gen.
Longstreet, in the Century Magazine, condemns Stuart's "Wild Ride
around the Federal Army." Letter from Gen. Longstreet to Gen.
Lee, suggesting Stuart's "Wild Ride around the Federal Army."
Stuart acting under Orders                                        178


Stuart's Cavalry. Descriptive of Stuart's Raid around McClellan's
Army                                                              205



    How many a spirit born to bless,
      Hath sunk beneath that withering name,
    Whom but a day's--an hour's--success
      Had wafted to eternal fame."--_Tom Moore._

In April, 1861, I was attending court at Abingdon, Va., when I met a
person who had just stepped out of the telegraph office, who informed
me that tremendous tidings were passing over the wires. Going in, I
inquired of the operator what it was, who told me that Lincoln had
issued a proclamation calling out troops. Fort Sumter had fallen two
days before. The public mind was already strained to a high pitch of
excitement, and it required only a spark to produce an explosion. The
indignation aroused by the President's proclamation spread like fire on
a prairie, and the laws became silent in the midst of arms. People of
every age, sex, and condition were borne away on the tide of excited
feeling that swept over the land.

The home of Gov. John B. Floyd, who had resigned as secretary of war
under Buchanan, was at Abingdon. I went to his house and told him the
news. He immediately issued a call to arms, which resounded like the
roll of Ziska's drum among the mountains of southwestern Virginia. Many
of the most influential families in that region were descendants of the
men who had fought under Morgan and Campbell at Eutaw Springs and
King's Mountain. Their military spirit was inflamed by stirring appeals
to the memories of the deeds their sires had done. Women, too, came
forward to inspire men with a spirit of heroic self-sacrifice, and a
devotion that rivalled the maidens of Carthage and Saragossa.

All the pride and affection that Virginians had felt in the traditions
of the government which their ancestors had made, and the great
inheritance which they had bequeathed, were lost in the overpowering
sentiment of sympathy with the people who were threatened with
invasion. It is a mistake to suppose that the Virginia people went to
war in obedience to any decree of their State, commanding them to go.
On the contrary, the people were in a state of armed revolution before
the State had acted in its corporate capacity. I went along with the
flood like everybody else. A few individuals here and there attempted
to breast the storm of passion, and appeared like Virgil's ship-wrecked
mariners, "Rari nantes in surgite vasto." Their fate did not encourage
others to follow their example, and all that they did was to serve
"like ocean wrecks to illuminate the storm." In anticipation of these
events, a cavalry company had for some months been in process of
organization, which I had joined as a private. This company--known as
the Washington Mounted Rifles--was immediately called together by its
commanding officer, Capt. William E. Jones. Capt. Jones was a graduate
of West Point, and had resigned some years before from the United
States army. He was a stern disciplinarian, and devoted to duty. Under
a rugged manner and impracticable temper he had a heart that beat with
warm impulses. To his inferiors in rank he was just and kind, but too
much inclined to cross the wishes and criticise the orders of his
superiors. He had been a classmate of Stonewall Jackson at the military
academy, and related to me many anecdotes of Jackson's piety, as well
as his eccentricities. He was a hard swearer; and a few days after the
battle of Bull Run he told me that he was at Jackson's headquarters,
and Jackson got very much provoked at something a soldier had done,
when Jones said, "Jackson, let me cuss him for you." He fell in battle
with Gen. Hunter, in the valley of Virginia, in June, 1864. We went
into barracks at Abingdon, and began drilling.

No service I ever had to perform during the war went as much against
the grain as standing guard the first night I was in camp. I had no
friends in the cavalry company, so I applied to Gov. Litchen for a
transfer to an infantry company that had been raised in that part of
the county where I resided. But on the very day I made the application,
a telegraphic order came for us to start for Richmond immediately, and
I never heard anything more of it. My company marched on horseback all
the way to Richmond--about five hundred miles--while the infantry
company went by rail. But how small is the control that mortals have
over their own destinies. The company to which I unsuccessfully applied
to be transferred became a part of the immortal division of Stonewall
Jackson, in which I would have had only a slight chance of asserting my
individuality, which would have been merged in the mass. I remember
distinctly, now, how with a heart almost bursting with grief, in the
midst of a rain, I bade my friends in the infantry company farewell
just as they were about getting on the train. I had no dream then that
I would ever be anything more than a private soldier. On the same day
in rain and mud we started on the march to Richmond. A few days before
a flag had been presented to our company by a young lady, with an
address in which she reminded us that "the coward dies a thousand
deaths--the brave man dies but one." I am sure there was not a man
among us who did not feel the ambition of the youth in Longfellow's
poem, bearing

    Onward amid the ice and snow of Alpine heights
    His banner with its strange device.

The march to Richmond under a soldier who had bivouacked on the plains
was a course of beneficial discipline. The grief of parting from home
and friends soon wore away, and we all were as gay as if we were going
to a wedding or a picnic. Gloom was succeeded by mirth and songs of
gladness, and if Abraham Lincoln could have been sung out of the South
as James II. was out of England, our company would have done it and
saved the country all the fighting. The favorite songs were generally
those of sentiment and sadness, intermingled with an occasional comic
melody. I remember this refrain of one that often resounded from the
head to the rear of the column as we passed some farmer's house:

    He who has good buttermilk a plenty, and gives the soldiers none,
    He shan't have any of our buttermilk when his buttermilk is gone.

The buttermilk, as well as everything else that the farmer had that was
good, was generally given to the soldiers. The country was brimful of

The gayety with which men marched into the face of death is not so
remarkable as the fortitude and cheerfulness of the wives and mothers
who stayed at home and waited for the news of the battles. In nearly
every home of the South could be found an example of that Spartan
mother who sent her son to the wars with her last injunction to return
with his shield or return upon it. This courage, exhibited in the
beginning, survived to the last, through all the long agony and bloody
sweat of the struggle. On reaching Richmond, after a few days' rest, we
were ordered to the Shenandoah valley. A day or so before we started,
Capt. Jones made a requisition on the quartermaster's department for
clothing for his company. We were furnished with suits of a very rough
quality of goods manufactured in the Virginia penitentiary. It almost
produced a mutiny in the camp. The men piled the clothes up in front of
the captain's tent. Only two refused to wear them--Private Fountain
Beattie and myself. I do not think any clothes I ever wore did me more
service than these. When I became a commander I made Beattie a
lieutenant. I think we were both as contented on the picket line,
dressed in our penitentiary suits, as we ever were in the gay uniforms
we afterwards wore. Our march from Richmond to the Shenandoah valley
was an ovation--our people had had no experiences of the misery and
desolation that follow in the track of war; they were full of its
romance, and expected us to win battles that would rival the glories of
Wagram and Marengo. They never counted the cost of victory.

Our company was incorporated into the 1st regiment of Virginia cavalry,
commanded by Col. J. E. B. Stuart. It was stationed at a village called
Bunker Hill, on the turnpike leading from Winchester to Martinsburg,
and was observing the Union army under Patterson, which was then
stationed at the latter place, on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Gen.
Joseph E. Johnston then had his headquarters at Winchester. I first saw
Stuart at Bunker Hill. He had then lately resigned from the United
States army to link his fortunes with the Southern Confederacy. He was
just twenty-eight years of age--one year older than myself--strongly
built, with blue eyes, ruddy complexion, and a reddish beard. He wore a
blouse and foraging cap with a linen cover, called a havelock, as a
protection against the sun. His personal appearance indicated the
distinguishing traits of his character--dash, great strength of will,
and indomitable energy. Stuart soon showed that he possessed all the
qualities of a great leader of cavalry--a sound judgment, a quick
intelligence to penetrate the designs of an enemy, mingled with the
brilliant courage of Rupert.

There was then such a wide chasm between me and him that I was only
permitted to view him at a distance, and had no thought of ever rising
to intimacy with him. He took us the next day on a scout down toward
Martinsburg and gave us our first lesson in war and sight of the enemy.
We saw the hills around the town covered with the white tents of the
Union army, and caught two soldiers who had ventured too far outside
the picket lines. Since then I have witnessed the capture of thousands,
but have never felt the same joy as I did over these first two

A few days after this, Patterson started out on a promenade toward
Winchester, and then turned squarely off, and went back toward
Charlestown. Patterson made a good deal of noise with the shells that
he threw at us, but nobody was hurt. Stuart kept close on his flanks,
both to watch his movements and to screen Johnston's, who had just
begun to move to join Beauregard at Manassas. Fitz John Porter and
George H. Thomas, who afterward became distinguished generals, were on
his staff. Patterson has been greatly censured for not pressing
Johnston, and detaining him in the Shenandoah valley, instead of making
the retrograde movement to Charlestown that permitted his escape. He
alleges that he acted under the advice of his staff officers. Patterson
was a conspicuous figure as well as failure in the first scene of the
first act of the drama of war; after that he disappeared forever. His
campaign in the Shenandoah valley was a mere prologue to the great
tragedy that was afterward acted there. Stuart left him in a position
where he could neither be of advantage to the cause he upheld nor
injury to that he opposed, and crossed the Blue Ridge to take part in
the battle of Bull Run, on the 21st of July.


    "O! shadow of glory--dim image of war--
    The chase hath no story--her hero no star."

    --_Byron, Deformed Transformed._

After the first battle of Bull Run, Stuart's cavalry was engaged in
performing outpost duty on our front, which extended from the falls
above Washington to Occoquan, on the lower Potomac. There were no
opportunities for adventurous enterprise. McClellan's army was almost
in a state of siege in Washington, and his cavalry but rarely showed
themselves outside his infantry picket line. We had to go on picket
duty three times a week and remain twenty-four hours. The work was
pretty hard; but still, soldiers liked it better than the irksome life
of the camp. I have often sat alone on my horse from midnight to
daybreak, keeping watch over the sleeping army. During this period of
inaction, the stereotyped message sent every night from Washington to
the northern press was, "All quiet along the Potomac."

While I was a private in Stuart's cavalry, I never missed but one tour
of outpost duty, and then I was confined in the hospital from an
injury. With one other, I was stationed at the post on the road leading
from Fall's Church to Lewinsville, in Fairfax. At night we relieved
each other alternately, one sleeping while the other watched. About
dusk, Capt. Jones had ridden to the post and instructed us that we had
no troops outside our lines on that road, and that we must fire,
without halting, on any body of men approaching from that direction, as
they would be the enemy. The night was dark, and it had come my turn to
sleep. I was lying on the ground, with the soft side of a stone for a
pillow, when I was suddenly aroused by my companion, who called to me
to mount, that the Yankees were coming. In an almost unconscious state
I leaped into my saddle, and at the same instant threw forward my
carbine, and both of us fired on a body of cavalry not fifty yards
distant. Fortunately, we fired so low our bullets struck the ground
just in front of them. The flash from my carbine in my horse's face
frightened him terribly. He wheeled, and that is the last I remember
about that night. The next thing I recollect is that some time during
the next day I became conscious, and found myself lying on a bed at the
house of the keeper of the toll-gate. Capt. Jones and several of the
men of my company were standing by me. It appears that the night before
Stuart had sent a company of cavalry to Lewinsville for some purpose.
This company had gone out by one road and returned on the one where I
had been posted. My horse had run away and fallen over a cow that was
lying down, and rolled over me. The company of cavalry coming along the
same way, their horses in front started and snorted at something lying
in the road. They halted, some of them dismounted to see what it was,
and discovered me there in an insensible state. They picked me up and
carried me into the village, apparently dying. I was bruised from head
to foot, and felt like every bone in my body had been broken. I had to
be carried to Fairbay Court House in an ambulance. There is a tradition
that when Capt. Jones looked on me that night he swore harder than the
army in Flanders. The feelings he expressed for the officer in fault
were not so benevolent as my Uncle Toby's for the fly.

While the cavalry did not have an opportunity to do much fighting
during the first year of the war, they learned to perform the duties
and endure the privations of a soldier's life. My experience in this
school was of great advantage to me in the after years when I became a
commander. There was a thirst for adventure among the men in the
cavalry, and a positive pleasure to get an occasional shot "from a
rifleman hid in a thicket." There were often false alarms, and
sometimes real ones, from scouting parties of infantry who would come
up at night to surprise our pickets. A vivid imagination united with a
nervous temperament can see in the dark the shapes of many things that
have no real existence. A rabbit making its nocturnal rounds, a cow
grazing, a hog rooting for acorns, an owl hooting, or the screech of a
night hawk could often arouse and sometimes stampede an outpost or draw
the fire of a whole line of pickets. At the first shot, the reserve
would mount; and soon the videttes would come running in at full speed.
There was an old gray horse roaming about the fields at Fairfax Court
House during the first winter of the war that must have been fired at a
hundred times at night by our videttes, and yet was never touched. I
have never heard whether Congress has voted him a pension. The last
time that I was ever on picket was in February, 1862. The snow was deep
and hard frozen. My post was on the outskirts of Fairfax Court House,
at the junction of the Washington road and turnpike. I wore a woollen
hood to keep my ears from freezing, and a blanket thrown around me as a
protection against the cold wind. The night was clear, and all that's
best of dark and bright. I sat on my horse under the shadow of a tree,
both as a protection from the piercing blast and as a screen from the
sight of an enemy. I had gone on duty at midnight, to remain until
daybreak. The deep silence was occasionally broken by the cry of
"Halt!" from some distant sentinel, as he challenged the patrol or
relief. The swaying branches of the trees in the moonlight cast all
sorts of fantastic forms on the crystal snow. In this deep solitude, I
was watching for danger and communing with the spirit of the past. At
this very spot, a few nights before, the vidette had been fired on by a
scouting party of infantry that had come up from McClellan's camps
below. But the old gray horse had several times got up a panic there
which raised a laugh on the soldiers.

Now I confess that I was about as much afraid of ridicule as of being
shot, and so, unless I got killed or captured, I resolved to spend the
night there. Horatius Cocles was not more determined to hold his
position on the bridge of the Tiber, than I was to stay at my post, but
perhaps his motives were less mixed than mine. I had been long
pondering and remembering, and in my reverie had visited the fields
that I had traversed "in life's morning march when my bosom was young."
I was suddenly aroused by the crash of footsteps breaking the crust of
the hard snow. The sound appeared to proceed from something approaching
me with the measured tread of a file of soldiers. It was screened from
my view by some houses near the roadside. I was sure that it was an
enemy creeping up to get a shot at me, for I thought that even the old
horse would not have ventured out on such a night, unless under orders.
My heart began to sicken within me pretty much like Hector's did when
he had to face the wrath of Achilles. My horse, shivering with cold,
with the instinct of danger, pricked up his ears and listened as
eagerly as I did to the footsteps as they got near. I drew my pistol,
cocked it, and took aim at the corner around which this object must
come. I wanted to get the advantage of the first shot. Just then the
hero of a hundred panics appeared--the old gray horse! I returned my
pistol to my belt and relapsed into reverie. I was happy: my credit as
a soldier had been saved.

A couple of days after this my company returned there, as usual, on
picket. On this same morning Stuart came, making an inspection of the
outposts. It happened that there were two young ladies living at
Fairfax Court House, acquaintances of his, who did not like to stay in
such an exposed situation, and so Stuart had arranged to send them to
the house of a friend near Fryingpan, which was further within our
lines. At that time the possibility of our army ever retiring to
Richmond had not been conceived by the rank and file. Stuart had then
become a brigadier-general, and Capt. Jones had been promoted to be
colonel of the 1st Virginia cavalry. Although I served under Stuart
almost from the beginning of the war, I had no personal acquaintance
with him before then. He asked Capt. Blackford to detail a man to go
along as an escort for the two ladies. I had often been invited to the
house of one of them by her father, so I was selected on that account
to go with them. I left my horse with my friend Beattie to lead back to
camp, and took a seat in the carriage with the ladies. This was on the
12th of February, 1862. It began snowing just as we started, and it was
late in the afternoon before we got to Fryingpan. I then went in the
carriage to Stuart's headquarters a few miles off, at Centreville. It
was dark when I got there. I reported to him the result of my mission
to Fryingpan, and asked for a pass to go back to the camp of my
regiment, which was about four miles off on Bull Run. Stuart told me
that the weather was too bad for me to walk to camp that night, but to
stay where I was until next morning. He and Generals Joseph E. Johnston
and G. W. Smith occupied the Grigsby house and messed together. I sat
down by a big wood fire in an open fireplace in the front room, where
he and the other two generals were also sitting. I never spoke a word,
and would have been far happier trudging through the snow back to camp,
or even as a vidette on a picket post. I felt just as much out of place
and uneasy as a mortal would who had been lifted to a seat by the side
of the gods on Olympus. Presently supper was announced. The generals
all walked into the adjoining room, and Stuart told me to come in.
After they had sat down at the table, Stuart observed that I was not
there and sent for me. I was still sitting by the fire. I obeyed his
summons like a good soldier, and took my place among the _dil
majores_. I was pretty hungry, but did not enjoy my supper. I would
have preferred fasting or eating with the couriers. I know I never
spoke a word to any one--I don't think I raised my eyes from off my
plate while I was at the table.

Now, while I felt so much oppressed by the presence of men of such high
rank, there was nothing in their deportment that produced it. It was
the same way the next morning. Stuart had to send after me to come in
to breakfast. I went pretty much in the same dutiful spirit that Gibbon
says that he broke his marriage engagement: "I sighed as a lover and
obeyed as a son." But now my courage rose; I actually got into
conversation with Joe Johnston, whom I would have regarded it as a
great privilege the day before to view through a long-range telescope.
The generals talked of Judah P. Benjamin's (who was then Secretary of
War) breach of courtesy to Stonewall Jackson that had caused Jackson to
send in his resignation. They were all on Jackson's side. There was
nothing going on about Centreville to indicate the evacuation that took
place three weeks after that. Stuart let me have a horse to ride back
to camp. As soon as I got there, Col. Jones sent for me to come to his
tent. I went, and he offered me the place of adjutant of the regiment.
I had had no more expectation of such a thing than of being translated
on Elijah's chariot to the skies. Of course, I accepted it. I was never
half as much frightened in any fight I was in as I was on the first
dress parade I conducted. But I was not permitted to hold the position
long. About two months after that, when we had marched to meet
McClellan at, Yorktown, my regiment reorganized under the new act of
the Confederate Congress. Fitz Lee was elected colonel in place of
Jones. This was the result of an attempt to mix democracy with military
discipline. Fitz Lee did not reappoint me as adjutant, and so I lost my
first commission on the spot where Cornwallis lost his sword. This was
at the time an unrecognized favor. If I had been retained as adjutant,
I would probably have never been anything else. So at the close of the
first year of the war I was, in point of rank, just where I had begun.
Well, it did not break my heart. When the army was retiring from
Centreville, Stuart's cavalry was the rear guard, and I had attracted
his favorable notice by several expeditions I had led to the rear of
the enemy. So Stuart told me to come to his headquarters and act as a
scout for him. A scout is not a spy who goes in disguise, but a soldier
in arms and uniform, who goes among as enemy's lines to get information
about them. Among the survivors of the Army of the Potomac there are
many legends afloat, and religiously believed to be true, of a
mysterious person--a sort of Flying Dutchman or Wandering Jew--prowling
among their camps in the daytime in the garb of a beggar or with a
pilgrim's staff, and leading cavalry raids upon them at night. In
popular imagination, I have been identified with that mythical

On the day after Mr. Lincoln's assassination, Secretary Stanton
telegraphed to Gen. Hancock, then in command at Winchester, Va., that I
had been seen at the theatre in Washington on that fatal night.
Fortunately, I could prove an alibi by Hancock himself, as I was at
that very time negotiating a truce with him. I recently heard an
officer of the United States army tell a story of his being with the
guard for a wagon train, and my passing him with my command on the
pike, all of us dressed as Federal soldiers, and cutting the train out
from behind him. I laughed at it, like everybody who heard it, and did
not try to unsettle his faith. To have corrected it would have been as
cruel as to dispel the illusion of childhood that the story of "Little
Red Riding Hood" is literally true, or to doubt the real presence of
Santa Claus. It was all pure fiction about our being dressed in blue
uniforms, or riding with him. I did capture the wagon train at the time
and place mentioned, Oct. 26, 1863, at the Chestnut Fork, near
Warrenton, Va., but we never even saw the guard. They had got sleepy,
and gone on to camp, and left me to take care of their wagons--which I
did. The quartermaster in charge of them, Capt. Stone, who was made
prisoner, called to pay his respects to me a few days ago. I can now
very well understand how the legendary heroes of Greece were created. I
always wore the Confederate uniform, with the insignia of my rank. So
did my men. So any success I may have had, either as an individual
scout or partisan commander, cannot be accounted for on the theory that
it was accomplished through disguise. The hundreds of prisoners I took
are witnesses to the contrary.

    FAUQUIER COUNTY, VA., Feb. 4, 1863.

    GENERAL:--I arrived in this neighborhood about one week ago. Since
    then I have been, despite the bad weather, quite actively engaged
    with the enemy. The result up to this time has been the capture
    of twenty-eight Yankee cavalry together with all their horses,
    arms, etc. The evidence of parole I forward with this. I have also
    paroled a number of deserters. Col. Sir Percy Wyndham, with over
    two hundred cavalry, came up to Middleburg last week to punish
    me, as he said, for my raids on his picket line. I had a slight
    skirmish with him, in which my loss was three men, captured by
    the falling of their horses; the enemy's loss, one man and three
    horses captured. He set a very nice trap a few days ago to
    catch me in. I went into it, but, contrary to the Colonel's
    expectations, brought the trap off with me, killing one, capturing
    twelve; the balance running. The extent of the annoyance I have
    been to the Yankees may be judged of by the fact that, baffled in
    their attempts to capture me, they threaten to retaliate on
    citizens for my acts.

    I forward to you some correspondence I have had on the subject. The
    most of the infantry has left Fairfax and gone towards
    Fredericksburg. In Fairfax there are five or six regiments of
    cavalry; there are about three hundred at Dranesville. They are so
    isolated from the rest of the command, that nothing would be easier
    than their capture. I have harassed them so much that they do not
    keep their pickets over half a mile from camp. There is no
    artillery there. I start on another trip day after to-morrow.

    I am, most respectfully, yours, etc.,


    MAJ.-GEN. J. E. B. STUART.


    Respectfully forwarded as additional proof of the prowess, daring,
    and efficiency of Mosby (without commission) and his band of a
    dozen chosen spirits.

    J. E. B. STUART,
    _Major-General Commanding_.

    Headquarters, Feb. 11, 1863.

    Respectfully forwarded to the Adjutant and Inspector-General as
    evidence of merit of Capt. Mosby.

    R. E. LEE,


After the battle of Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, there was a lull
in the storm of war. The men on the outposts along the Rappahannock had
a sort of truce to hostilities, and began swapping tobacco and coffee,
just as the soldiers of Wellington and Soult, on the eve of a great
battle, filled their canteens from the same stream. At that time,
Stuart determined to make a Christmas raid about Dumfries, which was on
Hooker's line of communication with Washington. I went with him. He got
many prisoners, and wagons loaded with bon-bons and all the good things
of the festive season. It made us happy, but almost broke the sutlers'
hearts. A regiment of Pennsylvania cavalry left their camp on the
Occoquan, and their Christmas turkeys, and came out to look for us.
They had better have stayed at home; for all the good they did was to
lead Stuart's cavalry into their camp as they ran through it. After
leaving Dumfries, Stuart asked me to take Beattie and go on ahead. The
road ran through a dense forest, and there was danger of an ambuscade,
of which every soldier has a horror who has read of Braddock's defeat.
Beattie and I went forward at a gallop, until we met a large body of
cavalry. As no support was in sight, several officers made a dash at
us, and at the same time opened such a fire as to show that peace on
earth and good will to men, which the angels and morning stars had sung
on that day over 1800 years ago, was no part of their creed. The very
fact that we did not run away ought to have warned them that somebody
was behind us. When the whole body had got within a short distance of
us, Stuart, who had heard the firing, came thundering up with the 1st
Virginia cavalry. All the fun was over with the Pennsylvanians then.
There was no more merry Christmas for them. Wade Hampton was riding by
the side of Stuart. He went into the fight and fought like a common
(or, rather, an uncommon) trooper. The combat was short and sharp, and
soon became a rout; the Federal cavalry ran right through their camp,
and gave a last look at their turkeys as they passed. But alas! they
were "grease, but living grease no more" for them. There was probably
some method in their madness in running through their camp. They
calculated, with good reason, that the temptation would stop the

A few days ago I read, in a book giving the history of the telegraph in
the war, the despatch sent to Washington by the operator near there:
"The 17th Pennsylvania cavalry just passed here, furiously charging to
the rear." When we got to Burke's Station, on the Orange and Alexandria
Railroad, while his command was closing up, Stuart put his own operator
in charge of the instrument, and listened to a telegraphic conversation
between the general commanding at Fairfax Court-House and the
authorities at Washington. In order to bewilder and puzzle them, he
sent several messages, which put them on a false scent. Just before
leaving, he sent a message to Quartermaster-General Meigs, complaining
of the inferior quality of the mules recently furnished by him. The
wire was then cut. Having learned by the telegraph that Fairfax
Court-House was held by a brigade of infantry, Stuart marched around
north of it, and went into Loudoun--a land flowing with plenty. He made
his headquarters at Col. Rogers's, near Dover, and rested until the
next day. On the morning he left, I went to his room, and asked him to
let me stay behind for a few days with a squad of men. I thought I
could do something with them. He readily assented. I got nine
men--including, of course, Beattie--who volunteered to go with me. This
was the beginning of my career as a partisan. The work I accomplished
in two or three days with this squad induced him to let me have a
larger force to try my fortune. I took my men down into Fairfax, and in
two days captured twenty cavalrymen, with their horses, arms, and
equipments. I had the good luck, by mere chance, to come across a
forester named John Underwood, who knew every rabbit-path in the
county. He was a brave soldier, as well as a good guide. His death a
few months afterward, at the hands of a deserter from our own army, was
one of the greatest losses I sustained in the war. I dismounted to
capture one of the picket posts, who could be seen by the light of
their fire in the woods. We walked up within a few yards of it. The
men, never suspecting danger, were absorbed in a game of euchre. I
halted, and looked on for a minute or two, for I hated to spoil their
sport. At last I fired a shot, to let them know that their relief had
come. Nobody was hurt; but one fellow was so much frightened that he
nearly jumped over the tops of the trees.

They submitted gracefully to the fate of war. I made them lie down by a
fence, and left a mounted man to stand guard over them while I went to
capture another post about two miles off. These were Vermont cavalry,
and being from the land of steady habits did not indulge in cards like
their New York friends, whom I had just left in the fence corner. I
found them all sound asleep in a house, except the sentinel. Their
horses were tied to the trees around it. The night was clear and crisp
and cold. As we came from the direction of their camp, we were mistaken
for the patrol until we got upon them. The challenge of the sentinel
was answered by an order to charge, and it was all over with the boys
from the Green Mountains. Their surprise was so great that they forgot
that they had only pistols and carbines. If they had used them, being
in a house, they might have driven us off. They made no resistance. The
next day I started back to rejoin Stuart, who was near Fredericksburg.
I found him in his tent, and when I reported what I had done, he
expressed great delight. So he agreed to let me go back with fifteen
men and try my luck again. I went and never returned. I was not
permitted to keep the men long. Fitz Lee complained of his men being
with me, and so I had to send them back to him. But while I had them I
kept things lively and humming. I made many raids on the cavalry
outposts, capturing men, arms, and horses. Old men and boys had joined
my band. Some had run the gauntlet of Yankee pickets, and others swam
the Potomac to get to me. Most men love the excitement of fighting, but
abhor the drudgery of camps. I mounted, armed and equipped my command
at the expense of the United States government. There was a Confederate
hospital in Middleburg, where a good many wounded Confederate soldiers
had been left during our Maryland campaign a few months before. These
were now convalescent. I utilized them. They would go down to Fairfax
on a raid with me, and then return to the hospital. When the Federal
cavalry came in pursuit, they never suspected that the cripples they
saw lying on their couches or hobbling about on crutches were the men
who created the panic at night in their camps. At last I got one of the
cripples killed, and that somewhat abated their ardor.

There are many comic as well as tragic elements that fill up the drama
of war. One night I went down to Fairfax to take a cavalry picket. When
I got near the post I stopped at the house of one Ben Hatton. I had
heard that he had visited the picket post that day to give some
information to them about me. I gave him the choice of Castle Thunder
or guiding me through the pines to the rear of the picket.

Ben did not hesitate to go with me. Like the Vicar of Bray, he was in
favor of the party in power. There was a deep snow on the ground, and
when we got in sight of the picket fire, I halted and dismounted my
men. As Ben had done all I wanted of him, and was a non-combatant, I
did not want to expose him to the risk of getting shot, and so I left
him with a man named Gall (generally called "Coonskin," from the cap he
wore), and Jimmie, an Irishman, to guard our horses, which we left in
the pines. With the other men, I went to make the attack on foot. The
snow being soft, we made no noise, and had them all prisoners almost
before they got their eyes open. But just then a fusilade was opened in
the rear, where our horses were. Leaving a part of my men to bring on
the prisoners, we mounted the captured horses and dashed back to the
place where I had dismounted, to meet what I supposed was an attempt of
the enemy to make a reprisal on me. When I got there I found Ben Hatton
lying in a snowbank, shot through the thigh, but Jimmy and Coonskin had
vanished. All that Ben knew was that he had been shot; he said that the
Yankees had attacked their party, but whether they had carried off
Jimmie and Coonskin, or Jimmie and Coonskin had carried them, he
couldn't tell. What made the mystery greater was that all our horses
were standing just as we left them, including the two belonging to the
missing men. With our prisoners and spoil, we started home, Ben Hatton
riding behind one of the men. Ben had lost a good deal of blood, but he
managed to hold on. When we got into the road we met a body of
Wyndham's cavalry coming up to cut us off. They stopped and opened fire
on us. I knew this was a good sign, and that they were not coming to
close quarters in the dark. We went on by them. By daybreak I was
twenty miles away. As soon as it was daylight, Wyndham set out full
speed up the pike to catch me. He might as well have been chasing the
silver-footed antelope,

    That gracefully and gayly springs,
    As o'er the marble courts of kings.

I was at a safe distance before he started. He got to Middleburg during
the day, with his horses all jaded and blown. He learned there that I
had passed through about the dawn of day. He returned to camp with the
most of his command leading their broken-down horses. In fact, his
pursuit had done him more damage than my attack. He was an English
officer, trained in the cavalry schools of Europe; but he did not
understand such business. This affair was rather hard on Ben Hatton. He
was the only man that got a hurt; and that was all he got. As it was
only a flesh wound, it healed quickly; but, even if he had died from
it, fame would have denied her requiem to his name. His going with me
had been as purely involuntary as if he had been carried out with a
halter round his neck to be hanged. I left him at his house, coiled up
in bed, within a few hundred yards of the Yankee pickets. He was too
close to the enemy for me to give him any surgical assistance; and he
had to keep his wound a profound secret in the neighborhood, for fear
the Yankees would hear of it and how he got it. If they had ever found
it out, Ben's wife would have been made a widow. In a day or so,
Coonskin and Jimmie came in, but by different directions. We had given
them up for lost. They trudged on foot through the snow all the way up
from Fairfax. Neither one knew that Ben Hatton had been shot. Each one
supposed that all the others were prisoners, and he the only one left
to tell the tale of the disaster. Both firmly believed that they had
been attacked by the enemy, and, after fighting as long as Sir John
Falstaff did by Shrewsbury clock, had been forced to yield; but they
could not account for all our horses being where we left them. The
mistakes of the night had been more ludicrous than any of the incidents
of Goldsmith's immortal comedy, "She Stoops to Conquer." By a
comparison of the statements of the three, I found out that the true
facts were these: In order to keep themselves warm, they had walked
around the horses a good deal and got separated. Coonskin saw Jimmie
and Ben Hatton moving about in the shadow of a tree, and took them to
be Yankees. He immediately opened on them, and drew blood at the first
fire. Hatton yelled and fell. Jimmie, taking it for granted that
Coonskin was a Yankee, returned his fire; and so they were dodging and
shooting at each other from behind trees, until they saw us come
dashing up. As we had left them on foot a short while before, it never
occurred to them that we were coming back on the captured horses. After
fighting each other by mistake and wounding Ben Hatton, they had run
away from us. It was an agreeable surprise to them to find that I had
their horses. Ben Hatton will die in the belief that the Yankees shot
him; for I never told him any better. I regret that historical truth
forbids my concluding this comedy according to the rules of the
drama--with a marriage.

    FAUQUIER COUNTY, VA., Feb. 28, 1863.

    GENERAL:--I have the honor to report, that at four o'clock on the
    morning of the 26th instant I attacked and routed, on the Ox road,
    in Fairfax, about two miles from Germantown, a cavalry outpost,
    consisting of a lieutenant and fifty men. The enemy's loss was one
    lieutenant and three men killed, and five captured; number of
    wounded not known; also thirty-nine horses, with all their
    accoutrements, brought off. There were also three horses killed.

    I did not succeed in gaining the rear of the post, as I expected,
    having been discovered by a vidette when several hundred yards off,
    who fired, and gave the alarm, which compelled me to charge them in
    front. In the terror and confusion occasioned by our terrific
    yells, the most of them saved themselves by taking refuge in a
    dense thicket, where the darkness effectually concealed them. There
    was also a reserve of one hundred men half a mile off who might
    come to the rescue. Already encumbered with prisoners and horses,
    we were in no condition for fighting. I sustained no loss. The
    enemy made a small show of fight, but quickly yielded. They were in
    log houses, with the chinking knocked out, and ought to have held
    them against a greatly superior force, as they all had carbines.

    My men behaved very gallantly, although mostly raw recruits. I had
    only twenty-seven men with me. I am still receiving additions to my

    If you would let me have some of the dismounted men of the First
    Cavalry, I would undertake to mount them. I desire some written
    instructions from you with reference to exportation of products
    within the enemy's lines. I wish the bearer of this to bring back
    some ammunition, also some large-size envelopes and blank paroles.

    I have failed to mention the fact the enemy pursued me as far as
    Middleburg, without accomplishing anything, etc....

    JNO. S. MOSBY.

    MAJ.-GEN. J. E. B. STUART.

    FAIRFAX COURT HOUSE, Jan. 27, 1863.

    SIR:--Last night my pickets were driven in by some of Stuart's
    cavalry, wounding one and capturing nine. I then started with some
    two hundred men in pursuit.

    Some twenty-seven miles beyond my pickets at Middleburg, I came up
    with them, and after a short skirmish, captured twenty-four of
    them. I have just returned.


    _Assistant Adjutant-General_


It was the latter part of January, 1863, when I crossed the
Rappahannock into Northern Virginia, which from that time until the
close of the war was the theatre on which I conducted partisan
operations. The country had been abandoned to the occupation of the
Federal army the year before, when Johnston retired from Centreville,
and had never been held by us afterward, except during the short time
when the Confederate army was passing through in Gen. Lee's first
campaign into Maryland. I told Stuart that I would, by incessant
attacks, compel the enemy either greatly to contract his lines or to
reinforce them; either of which would be of great advantage to the
Southern cause. The means supplied me were hardly adequate to the end I
proposed, but I thought that zeal and celerity of movement would go far
to compensate for the deficiency of my numbers. There was a great stake
to be won, and I resolved to play a bold game to win it. I think that
Stuart was the only man in the army of Northern Virginia, except two or
three who accompanied me and knew me well, who expected that I would
accomplish anything. Other detachments of cavalry had been sent there
at different times that had done little or nothing.

Nearly every one thought that I was starting out on a quixotic
enterprise, that would result in doing no harm to the enemy, but simply
in getting all of my own men killed or captured. When at last I secured
an independent command, for which I had so longed, I was as happy as
Columbus when he set forth from the port of Palos with the three
little barks Isabella had given him to search for an unknown continent.
My faith was strong, and I never for a moment had a feeling of
discouragement or doubted my ability to reap a rich harvest from what
I knew was still an ungleaned field. I stopped an hour or so at
Warrenton, which has always been a sort of political shrine from which
the Delphian Apollo issues his oracles. After the war I made it my
home, and it is generally supposed that I resided there before the war;
the fact is that I never was in that section of Virginia until I went
there as a soldier. The Union soldiers knew just as much about the
country as I did.

I recall vividly to mind the looks of surprise and the ominous shaking
of the heads of the augurs when I told them that I proposed going
farther North to begin the war again along the Potomac. Their criticism
on my command was pretty much the same as that pronounced on the
English mission to Cabul some years ago--that it was too small for an
army and too large for an embassy.

When I bade my friends at the Warren-Green Hotel "good-by," I had their
best wishes for my success, but nothing more. They all thought that
I was going on the foolhardy enterprise of an Arctic voyager in search
of the North Pole. My idea was to make the Piedmont region of the
country lying between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers the base of
my operations. This embraces the upper portion of the counties of
Fauquier and Loudoun. It is a rich, pastoral country, which afforded
subsistence for my command, while the Blue Ridge was a safe point to
which to retreat if hard pressed by the superior numbers that could
be sent against us. It was inhabited by a highly refined and cultivated
population, who were thoroughly devoted to the Southern cause. Although
that region was the Flanders of the war, and harried worse than any of
which history furnishes an example since the desolation of the
Palatinates by Louis XIV.,[1] yet the stubborn faith of the people
never wavered. Amid fire and sword they remained true to the last, and
supported me through all the trials of the war. While the country
afforded an abundance of subsistence, it was open and scant of forests,
with no natural defensive advantages for repelling hostile incursions.
There was no such shelter there as Marion had in the swamps of the
Pedee, to which he retreated. It was always my policy to avoid fighting
at home as much as possible, for the plain reason that it would have
encouraged an overwhelming force to come again, and that the services
of my own command would have been neutralized by the force sent against
it. Even if I defeated them, they would return with treble numbers. On
the contrary, it was safer for me, and greater results could be
secured, by being the aggressor and striking the enemy at unguarded
points. I could thus compel him to guard a hundred points, while I
could select any one of them for attack. If I could do so, I generally
slipped over when my territory was invaded and imitated Scipio by
carrying the war into the enemy's camps.

          [1] [_Telegram._]

          KERNSTOWN, VA., Nov. 26, 1864.

          SHERIDAN TO HALLECK:--"I will soon commence work on Mosby.
          Heretofore I have made no attempt to break him up, as I
          would have employed ten men to his one, and for the reason
          that I have made a scapegoat of him for the destruction of
          private rights. Now there is going to be an intense hatred
          of him in that portion of the valley which is nearly a
          desert. I will soon commence on Loudoun County, and let
          them know there is a God in Israel. Mosby has annoyed me
          considerably; but the people are beginning to see that he
          does not injure me a great deal, but causes a loss to them
          of all that they have spent their lives in accumulating.
          Those people who live in the vicinity of Harper's Ferry are
          the most villainous in this valley, and have not yet been
          hurt much. If the railroad is interfered with, I will make
          some of them poor. Those who live at home in peace and
          plenty want the duello part of this war to go on; but when
          they have to bear the burden by loss of property and
          comforts, they will cry for peace." When Sheridan started
          in March, 1865, from Winchester, to join Grant in front of
          Petersburg, he left my command behind him, more flourishing
          than it ever had been. The "_intense hatred_" he had hoped
          to excite in the people of the valley for me, by burning
          their homes, was only felt for him. They were not willing
          that I should be a scapegoat to bear another's sins.

I have seen it stated in the reports of some Federal officers that they
would throw down the gage of battle to me in my own country and that I
would not accept it. I was not in the habit of doing what they wanted
me to do. Events showed that my judgment was correct. After I had once
occupied I never abandoned it, although the wave of invasion several
times rolled over it.

News of the surrender, or, rather, the evacuation, of Richmond came to
me one morning in April, 1865, at North Fork, in Loudoun County, where
my command had assembled to go on a raid. Just two or three days before
that I had defeated Colonel Reno, with the Twelfth Pennsylvania
Cavalry, at Hamilton, a few miles from there, which was the last fight
in which I commanded. Reno afterward enjoyed some notoriety in
connection with the Custer massacre. My purpose was to weaken the
armies invading Virginia, by harassing their rear. As a line is only
as strong as its weakest point, it was necessary for it to be stronger
than I was at every point, in order to resist my attacks. It is easy,
therefore, to see the great results that may be accomplished by a
small body of cavalry moving rapidly from point to point on the
communications of an army. To destroy supply trains, to break up the
means of conveying intelligence, and thus isolating an army from its
base, as well as its different corps from each other, to confuse their
plans by capturing despatches, are the objects of partisan war. It is
just as legitimate to fight an enemy in the rear as in front. The only
difference is in the danger. Now, to prevent all these things from
being done, heavy detachments must be made to guard against them. The
military value of a partisan's work is not measured by the amount of
property destroyed, or the number of men killed or captured, but by the
number he keeps watching. Every soldier withdrawn from the front to
guard the rear of an army is so much taken from its fighting strength.

I endeavored, as far as I was able, to diminish this aggressive power
of the army of the Potomac, by compelling it to keep a large force on
the defensive. I assailed its rear, for there was its most vulnerable
point. My men had no camps. If they had gone into camp, they would soon
have all been captured. They would scatter for safety, and gather at my
call, like the Children of the Mist. A blow would be struck at a weak
or unguarded point, and then a quick retreat. The alarm would spread
through the sleeping camp, the long roll would be beaten or the bugles
would sound to horse, there would be mounting in hot haste and a rapid
pursuit. But the partisans generally got off with their prey. Their
pursuers were striking at an invisible foe. I often sent small squads
at night to attack and run in the pickets along a line of several
miles. Of course, these alarms were very annoying, for no human being
knows how sweet sleep is but a soldier. I wanted to use and consume the
Northern cavalry in hard work. I have often thought that their fierce
hostility to me was more on account of the sleep I made them lose than
the number we killed and captured. It has always been a wonder with
people how I managed to collect my men after dispersing them. The true
secret was that it was a fascinating life, and its attractions far more
than counterbalanced its hardships and dangers. They had no camp duty
to do, which, however necessary, is disgusting to soldiers of high
spirit. To put them to such routine work is pretty much like hitching
a race-horse to a plow.

Many expeditions were undertaken and traps laid to capture us, but
all failed, and my command continued to grow and flourish until the
final scene at Appomattox. It had just reached its highest point of
efficiency when the time came to surrender. We did not go into a number
of traps set to catch us, but somehow we always brought the traps off
with us. One stratagem was after the model of the Grecian horse, and
would have done credit to Ulysses. They sent a train of wagons up the
Little River turnpike from Fairfax, apparently without any guard,
thinking that such a bait would surely catch me. But in each wagon were
concealed six of the Bucktails, who would, no doubt, have stopped my
career, if I had given them a chance. Fortunately, I never saw them,
for on that very day I had gone by another route down to Fairfax. When
the Bucktails returned, they had the satisfaction of knowing that I had
been there in their absence. At that time Hooker's army was in winter
quarters on the Rappahannock, with a line of communication with
Washington, both by land and water. The troops belonging to the
defences at Washington were mostly cantoned in Fairfax, with their
advance post at Centreville. West of the Blue Ridge, Milroy occupied
Winchester. From my rendezvous east of the ridge I could move on the
radius and strike any point on the circumference of the circle which
was not too strongly guarded. But if I compelled them to be stronger
everywhere than I was, then so much the better. I had done my work.
Panics had often occurred in the camp when we were not near; the
pickets became so nervous, expecting attacks, that they fired at every
noise. It was thought that the honor as well as the safety of the army
required that these depredations should no longer be endured, and that
something must be done to stop them. Of course, the best way to do it
was to exterminate the band, as William of Orange did the Macdonald of
Glencoe. A cavalry expedition, under a Major Gilmer, was sent up to
Loudoun to do the work. He had conceived the idea that I had my
headquarters in Middleburg, and might be caught by surrounding the
place in the night-time. He arrived before daybreak, and threw a cordon
of pickets around it. At the dawn of day he had the village as
completely invested as Metz was by the Germans. He then gradually
contracted his lines, and proceeded in person to the hotel where he
supposed I was in bed. I was not there; I never had been. Soldiers were
sent around to every house with orders to arrest every man they could
find. When he drew in his net there was not a single soldier in it. He
had, however, caught a number of old men. It was a frosty morning, and
he amused himself by making a soldier take them through a squad drill
to keep them warm; occasionally he would make them mark time in the
street front of the hotel. All this afforded a good deal of fun to the
major, but was rather rough on the old men. He thought, or pretended to
think, that they were the parties who had attacked his pickets. After a
night march of twenty-five miles, he did not like to return to camp
without some trophies, so he determined to carry the graybeards with
him. He mounted each one behind a trooper, and started off. Now, it so
happened that I had notified my men to meet that morning at Rector's
Cross Roads, which is about four miles above Middleburg. When I got
there I heard that the latter place was occupied by Federal cavalry.
With seventeen men I started down the pike to look after them. Of
course, with my small force, all that I could expect to do was to
cut off some straggling parties who might be marauding about the
neighborhood. When I got near Middleburg I learned that they had gone.
We entered the town at a gallop. The ladies all immediately crowded
around us. There were, of course, no men among them; Major Gilmer had
taken them with him. There was, of course, great indignation at the
rough usage they had received, and their wives never expected to see
them again. And then, to add to the pathos of the scene, were the
tears and lamentations of the daughters. There were many as pure and
as bright as any pearl that ever shone in Oman's green water. Their
beauty had won the hearts of many of my men. To avenge the wrongs of
distressed damsels is one of the vows of knighthood; so we spurred on
to overtake the Federal cavalry, in hopes that by some accident of war
we might be able to liberate the prisoners.


    "Still o'er these scenes my memory wakes,
      And fondly broods with miser care!
    Time but the impression stronger makes,
      As streams their channels deeper wear."--_Burns._

About five miles below Middleburg is the village of Aldie, where I
expected that the Federal cavalry would halt. But when I got within a
mile of it I met a citizen, just from the place, who told me the
cavalry had passed through. With five or six men I rode forward while
the others followed on more slowly. Just as I rose to the top of the
hill on the outskirts of the village, I suddenly came upon two Federal
cavalrymen ascending from the opposite side. Neither party had been
aware of the approach of the other, and our meeting was so unexpected
that our horses' heads nearly butted together before we could stop.
They surrendered, of course, and were sent to the rear. They said that
they had been sent out as videttes. Looking down the hill, I saw before
me several mounted men in the road, whom I took to be a part of the
rear-guard of Major Gilmer's column. We dashed after them. I was riding
a splendid horse--a noble bay--Job's war-horse was a mustang compared
to him--who had now got his mettle up and carried me at headlong speed
right among them. I had no more control over him than Mazeppa had over
the Ukraine steed to which he was bound. I had scarcely started in the
charge, before I discovered that there was a body of cavalry dismounted
at a mill near the roadside, which I had not before seen. They were
preparing to feed their horses. As their pickets had given no alarm,
they had no idea that an enemy was near, and were stunned and dazed by
the apparition of a body of men who they imagined must have dropped
from the clouds upon them. The fact was that we were as much surprised
as they were. I was unable to stop my horse when I got to them, but
he kept straight on like a streak of lightning. Fortunately, the
dismounted troopers were so much startled that it never occurred to
them to take a shot at me _in transitu_. They took it for granted
that an overwhelming force was on them, and every man was for saving
himself. Some took to the Bull Run mountain, which was near by, and
others ran into the mill and buried themselves like rats in the wheat
bins. The mill was grinding, and some were so much frightened that they
jumped into the hoppers and came near being ground up into flour. When
we pulled them out there was nothing blue about them.

As I have stated, my horse ran with me past the mill. My men stopped
there and went to work, but I kept on. And now another danger loomed up
in front of me. Just ahead was the bridge over Little River, and on the
opposite bank I saw another body of cavalry looking on in a state of
bewildered excitement. They saw the stampede at the mill and a solitary
horseman, pistol in hand, riding full speed right into their ranks.
They never fired a shot. Just as I got to the bridge I jumped off my
horse to save myself from capture; but just at the same moment they
wheeled and took to their heels down the pike. They had seen the rest
of my men coming up. If I had known that they were going to run I would
have stayed on my horse. They went clattering down the pike, with my
horse thundering after them. He chased them all the way into the camp.
They never drew rein until they got inside their picket lines. I
returned on foot to the mill; not a half a dozen shots were fired. All
that couldn't get away surrendered. But just then a Federal officer
made his appearance at the bridge. He had ridden down the river, and,
having just returned, had heard the firing, but did not comprehend the
situation. Tom Turner of Maryland, one of the bravest of my men, dashed
at him. As Turner was alone, I followed him. I now witnessed a
single-handed fight between him and the officer. For want of numbers,
it was not so picturesque as the combat, described by Livy, between the
Horatii and the Curatii, nor did such momentous issues depend upon it.
But the gallantry displayed was equally as great. Before I got up I saw
the horse of the Federal officer fall dead upon him, and at the same
time Turner seemed about to fall from his horse. The Federal officer,
who was Capt. Worthington of the Vermont cavalry, had fired while lying
under his horse at Turner and inflicted quite a severe wound. The first
thing Turner said to me was that his adversary had first surrendered,
which threw him off his guard, and then fired on him. Worthington
denied it, and said his shot was fired in fair fight. I called some of
the men to get him out from under his horse. He was too much injured by
the fall to be taken away, so I paroled and left him with a family
there to be cared for. While all this was going on, the men were busy
at the mill. They had a good deal of fun pulling the Vermont boys out
of the wheat bins. The first one they brought out was so caked with
flour that I thought they had the miller. We got the commanding
officer, Capt. Huttoon, and nineteen men and twenty-three horses, with
their arms and equipments. I lingered behind with one man, and sent the
captures back to Middleburg. Now, all the ladies there had been
watching and listening as anxiously to hear from us as Andromache and
her maids did for the news of the combat between Hector and Achilles.
Presently they saw a line of blue coats coming up the pike, with some
gray ones mixed among them. Then the last ray of hope departed--they
thought we were all prisoners, and that the foe was returning to insult
them. One of the most famous of my men--Dick Moran--rode forward as a
herald of victory. He had the voice of a fog horn, and proclaimed the
glad tidings to the town. While I was still sitting on my horse at the
mill, three more of the Vermont men, thinking that all of us had gone,
came out from their hiding place. I sent them on after the others. Up
to this time I had been under the impression that it was Maj. Gilmer's
rear-guard that I had overtaken. I now learned that this was a body of
Vermont cavalry that had started that morning several hours after
Gilmer had left. They had halted to feed their horses at the mill.
As they came up they had seen a body of cavalry turn off toward
Centreville. That was all they knew. I then rode down the road to look
after my horse that I had lost. I had not gone far before I met the old
men that Maj. Gilmer had taken off.

They were all happy at the ludicrous streak of fortune that had brought
them deliverance. It seems that Maj. Gilmer knew nothing of the
intention of Capt. Huttoon to pay Middleburg a visit that day. When he
got below Aldie he saw a considerable body of cavalry coming from the
direction of Fairfax. It never occurred to him that they were his own
people. He took them for my men, and thought I was trying to surround
him. Even if he did think the force he saw was my command, it is hard
to understand why he should run away from the very thing that he was in
search of. But so he did. Just at the point where he was when he saw
the Vermont men the pike crosses the old Braddock road. It is the same
on which the British general marched with young George Washington to
death and defeat on the Monongahela. Maj. Gilmer turned and started
down the Braddock road at about the speed that John Gilpin rode to
Edmonton on his wedding day. The ground was soft, and his horses sank
knee deep in the mud at every jump. Of course, those broke down first
that were carrying two. As he thought he was hard pressed, he kept on
fast and furious, taking no heed of those he left on the roadside. It
was necessary to sacrifice a part to save the rest. Long before he got
to Centreville, about one-half of his horses were sticking in the mud,
and all his prisoners had been abandoned. They had to walk home. Maj.
Gilmer never came after me again. I heard that he resigned his
commission in disgust, and, with Othello, "bade farewell to the big
wars that make ambition virtue." There was rejoicing in Middleburg that
evening; all ascribed to a special providence the advent of the Vermont
cavalry just in time to stampede the New Yorkers, and make them drop
their prisoners; and that my horse had run away, and carried me safely
through the Vermont squadron. The miller, too, was happy, because I had
appeared just in time to save his corn. At night, with song and dance,
we celebrated the events, and forgot the dangers of the day.

    Fairfax Court-House, Va., March 3, 1863.

    SIR:--By order of Col. R. B. Price, I directed, on the night of
    the 1st instant, a reconnoissance to go in direction of Aldie.

    The officer who commanded this reconnoissance was Major Joseph
    Gilmer, of the Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry. He had two hundred
    men. The orders to him were to proceed carefully, and send back
    couriers through the night with information whether they saw any
    enemy or not. This last order was disobeyed. They were not to cross
    Cub Run until daylight, and then try and gain all information
    possible by flankers and small detached scouting parties.

    Major Gilmer went to Middleburg, and, while returning, the videttes
    of the First Vermont Cavalry noticed a part of his advance and
    prepared to skirmish. The advance fell back toward Aldie. Major
    Gilmer, instead of throwing out a party to reconnoitre, turned off
    with nearly the whole of his command in the direction of Groveton,
    to gain Centreville. The horses returned exhausted from being run
    at full speed for miles. A few of Major Gilmer's men left his
    command and went along the Little River turnpike toward the Vermont
    detachment. They reported that the men seen were a part of a
    scouting party under Major Gilmer, and that no enemy were in Aldie.
    Capt. Huttoon then entered the town, and halted to have the horses
    fed near a mill. Immediately beyond was a rising ground which hid
    the guerillas. While the horses were unbridled and feeding, the
    surprise occurred. As both the officers have been captured, and as
    the detachment was not under my command, and is not attached to
    this brigade, I have no means of receiving any official or exact
    report from them, nor is there any one belonging to that detachment
    here. All men belonging to this detachment seem to have fought
    well; the enemy did not pursue them; they fell back in good order.

    Major Gilmer, when he returned, was unable to make a report to
    Lieut.-Col. [John S.] Krepps, who during the time I was confined
    from sickness, had charge of the camp. I ordered Major Gilmer under
    arrest early this morning, and have sent to Col. R. B. Price
    charges, of which the annexed is a copy. Major Gilmer lost but one
    man, belonging to the Fifth New York Cavalry, who was mortally
    wounded by the enemy and afterwards robbed. He was away from the
    command and on this side of Aldie, his horse having given out. The
    enemy seemed to have been concealed along the line of march and
    murdered this man, when returning, without provocation.

    I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    _Lieut.-Col. Commanding Cavalry Brigade_.

    _Assistant Adjutant-General_.

                  }    ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE.
    No. 229.      }        _Washington, July 23, 1863._

    I. Before a General Court Martial, which convened in the city of
    Washington, D.C, March 27, 1863, pursuant to General Orders, No.
    20, dated Headquarters Cavalry, Defences of Washington, near Fort
    Scott, Virginia, February 2, 1863, and Special Orders, No. 146,
    dated February 10, 1863; No. 150, dated February 16, 1863; No.
    161, dated March 6, 1863; and No. 164, dated March 21, 1863,
    Headquarters Cavalry, Department of Washington, and of which
    Colonel E. B. SAWYER, 1st Vermont Cavalry, is President, was
    arraigned and tried--

    Major _Joseph Gilmer_, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

    CHARGE I.--"Drunkenness."

        _Specification_--"In this; that _Joseph Gilmer_, a Major of
        the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, he then being in the service of
        the United States, and while in command of a reconnoitring
        party, on the second day of March, 1863, was so intoxicated
        from the effects of spirituous liquors as to be incapacitated
        to perform his duties in an officer-like manner. This at or
        near the village of Aldie, in the State of Virginia."

    CHARGE II.--"Cowardice."

        _Specification_--"In this; that _Joseph Gilmer_, a Major in
        the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, he then being in the service of
        the United States, upon the second day of March, 1863, did
        permit and encourage a detachment of cavalry, in the service
        of the United States, and under his command, to fly from a
        small body of the 1st Vermont Cavalry, who were mistaken for
        the enemy, without sending out any person or persons to
        ascertain who they were, or what were their numbers; and that
        the said cavalry under his command, as above stated, were much
        demoralized, and fled many miles through the country in great
        confusion and disorder. This near Aldie, in the State of

    To which charges and specifications the accused, Major _Joseph
    Gilmer_; 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, pleaded "Not Guilty."


    The Court, having maturely considered the evidence adduced, finds
    the accused, Major _Joseph Gilmer_, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, as


    Of the _Specification_, "Guilty."
    Of the CHARGE,          "Guilty."


    Of the _Specification_, "Guilty."
    Of the CHARGE,          "Not Guilty."


    And the Court does therefore sentence him, Major _Joseph
    Gilmer_, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, "_To be cashiered_."

    II. The proceedings of the Court in the above case were
    disapproved by the Major-General commanding the Department of
    Washington, on account of fatal defects and irregularities in
    the record. But the testimony shows that the accused was _drunk_
    on duty, and brought disgrace upon himself and the service.
    The President directs that, as recommended by the Department
    Commander, he be dismissed the service; and Major _Joseph Gilmer_,
    18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, accordingly ceases to be an officer in
    the United States Service since the 20th day of July, 1863.


    _Assistant Adjutant-General_.

    FAIRFAX COURT HOUSE, March 2, 1863.

    SIR:--Fifty men of the First Vermont Cavalry, from Companies H and
    M, under captains Huttoon and Woodward, were surprised in Aldie
    while feeding their horses by about 70 of the enemy. Both captains
    captured and about 15 men. They saw no enemy but the attacking
    party. Major Gilmer has returned with the scouting party that left
    last night. They were to Middleburg and saw but one rebel. I have
    anticipated the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Krepps, now in
    command, which will be forwarded in probably one hour.

    _Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding Cavalry Brigade_.

    _Assistant Adjutant-General_.


Within a few weeks after I began operations in Northern Virginia, I
received accessions to my command from various sources. I have before
spoken of the convalescents in the hospital at Middleburg, out of whom
I got some valuable service. The Confederate government did not furnish
horses to the cavalry, but paid each man forty cents a day compensation
for the use of his horse. When the trooper lost his horse, or it became
disabled, he was given a furlough to go to get another. A great many of
this class of men came to me, to whom I would furnish captured horses
in consideration of their going with me on a few raids. I made a
proposition to mount all the dismounted men of Fitz Lee's brigade in
consideration of their serving with me a short time. It was declined,
and they were sent over to Fauquier under command of an ambitious
officer, who thought, like Sam Patch when he leaped over Genesee falls,
that some things could be done as well as others. Reports of my forays,
which had been almost uniformly successful, had spread through the
army, and it seemed, after the thing had been done, to be a very easy
thing to surprise and capture cavalry outposts. The result of this
attempt at imitation was that all the dismounted men were returned as
prisoners of war via Fort Monroe, the mounted officer who commanded
them alone escaping capture.

About this time I received a valuable recruit in the person of Sergt.
Ames of the 5th New York cavalry, who deserted his regiment to join me.
I never really understood what his motives were in doing so. I never
cared to inquire. The men of my command insisted that I should treat
him simply as a prisoner, and send him back to join many of his
comrades whom I had sent to Richmond. After a long conversation with
him I felt an instinctive confidence in his sincerity. He came to me on
foot, but proposed to return to camp and mount himself if I would
receive him. It happened that a young man named Walter Frankland was
present, who also came on foot to join my standard. With my consent
they agreed to walk down to Fairfax that night, enter the cavalry camp
on foot and ride out on two of the best horses they could find. At the
same time, I started off on an expedition in another direction. I had
not gone far before I struck the trail of a raiding party of cavalry
that had been off into Loudoun committing depredations on the citizens.
I met old Dr. Drake walking home through snow and mud knee deep. He
told me that the Federal cavalry had met him in the road, while he was
going around to attend to the sick, and had not only taken his horse
but also his saddle-bags, with all his medicines. As the Confederacy
was then in a state of blockade, medicine was more valuable than gold,
and great suffering would be inflicted on a community by the loss even
of Dr. Drake's small stock. He told us that the marauders were not far
ahead, and we spurred on to overtake them. Fortunately, as they were
not far from their camps, they deemed themselves safe, and scattered
over the country a good deal.

Before going very far we overtook a party that had stopped to plunder a
house. As they were more intent on saving their plunder than fighting,
they scampered off, but we were close on their heels. We had
intercepted them and were between them and their camp, so they had to
run in an opposite direction. But very soon they came to a narrow
stream, the Horsepen Run, which was booming with the melted snow. The
man on the fleetest horse, who was some distance in advance of the
others, plunged in and narrowly escaped being drowned. He was glad to
get back even as a prisoner. The others did not care to follow his
example, but quietly submitted to manifest destiny. We got them all.
They were loaded down mostly with silver spoons, of which they had
despoiled the houses they had visited. But the richest prize of all
we got was old Dr. Drake's saddle-bags. I was strongly tempted to
administer to each one of the prisoners a purge by way of making them
expiate their offence. Now, when Dr. Drake parted with his saddle-bags,
he never expected to see them again, and supposed that as long as the
war lasted his occupation would be gone, as a doctor without medicine
and implements of surgery is like a soldier without arms. His surprise
and delight may be imagined when a few hours afterward his saddle-bags
and the captured silver were brought to him to be restored to the

We then proceeded on toward Fryingpan, where I had heard that a cavalry
picket was stationed and waiting for me to come after them. I did not
want them to be disappointed in their desire to visit Richmond. When I
got within a mile of it and had stopped for a few minutes to make my
disposition for attack, I observed two ladies walking rapidly toward
me. One was Miss Laura Ratcliffe, a young lady to whom Stuart had
introduced me a few weeks before, when returning from his raid on
Dumfries--with her sister. Their home was near Fryingpan, and they had
got information of a plan to capture me, and were just going to the
house of a citizen to get him to put me on my guard, when fortune
brought them across my path. But for meeting them, my life as a
partisan would have closed that day. There was a cavalry post in sight
at Fryingpan, but near there, in the pines, a large body of cavalry
had been concealed. It was expected that I would attack the picket,
but that my momentary triumph would be like the fabled Dead Sea's
fruit--ashes to the taste--as the party in the pines would pounce from
their hiding-place upon me.

A garrulous lieutenant had disclosed the plot to the young lady, never
dreaming that she would walk through the snow to get the news to me.
This was not the only time during the war when I owed my escape from
danger to the tact of a Southern woman. I concluded then to go in the
direction of Dranesville in search of game. When we reached Herndon
Station, I learned that the contents of a sutler's wagon, that had
broken down when passing there that day, were concealed in a barn near
by. The sutler had gone into camp to get another team to haul his goods
in. In the exercise of our belligerent rights, we proceeded to relieve
him of any further trouble in taking care of them. He had a splendid
stock of cavalry boots, with which he seemed to have been provided in
anticipation of the wants of my men. Now, loaded down with what was to
us a richer prize than the Golden Fleece, we started back, but could
not forbear taking along a cavalry picket near by which was not looking
for us, as it had been understood that we were to attack Fryingpan that
night, where preparations had been made to receive us. Once more I had
tempted fortune, and from "the nettle danger had plucked the flower

On my return to Middleburg I found Ames and Frankland there in advance
of me. They had entered the camp of the Fifth New York cavalry at night
on foot, and had ridden out on two of the finest horses they could find
in the stables. They had passed in and out without ever having been
molested or challenged by the guard. Ames had not had time to exchange
his suit of blue for a gray one, but Frankland was in full Confederate
uniform. It was a perfectly legitimate enterprise, certainly, as open
and bold as the capture in the night-time of the Palladium of Troy by
Ulysses and Diomede. But still the men were not satisfied of Ames's
good faith. They said that he had not betrayed Frankland because he
wanted to entrap us all at one time. A few days after that, I once more
put him to a test which convinced the men of his truth and fidelity. He
seemed to burn with an implacable feeling of revenge toward his old
companions in arms. I never had a truer or more devoted follower. He
was killed in a skirmish in October, 1864, and carried the secret of
his desertion to the grave. I had made him a lieutenant, and he had won
by his courage and general deportment the respect and affection of my
men. They all sincerely mourned his death.

Since the war I have often passed his lonely grave in a clump of trees
on the very spot where he fell. The soldier who killed him was in the
act of taking his arms off when one of my men rode up and shot him.
Ames is a prominent figure in the history of my command. It was my
habit either to go myself, with one or two men, or to send scouts, to
find out some weak and exposed place in the enemy's lines. I rarely
rested for more than one day at a time. As soon as I knew of a point
offering a chance for a successful attack, I gathered my men together
and struck a blow. From the rapidity with which these attacks were
delivered and repeated, and the distant points at which they were made,
a most exaggerated estimate of the number of my force was made. I have
before spoken of John Underwood, to whose courage and skill as a guide
I was so much indebted for my earlier successes. He was equally at home
threading a thick labyrinth of pines in Fairfax or leading a charge. He
was among the first everywhere, and I always rewarded his zeal. About
this time I had sent him down on a scout, from which he returned
informing me that a picket of thirty or forty cavalry had been placed
at Herndon Station on the Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad. This was the
very place where I had got the sutler's wagon the week before. I could
hardly believe it--I thought it must be another trap--for I could not
imagine why such a number of men should be put there, except for the
purpose of getting caught. I had supposed that the enemy had been
taught something by experience. I collected my men and started down,
though I did not expect to find any one at Herndon when I got there.

Fearing an ambuscade, and also hearing that the reserve at the post
stayed in a house, I thought I would try my luck in the daytime.
Besides, as most of my attacks had been made at night, I knew they
would not expect me in the day. Underwood conducted me by all sorts of
crooked paths through the dense forests until we got in their rear.
We then advanced at a walk along the road leading to their camp at
Dranesville, until we came upon a vidette, who saw us, but did not have
time either to fire or to run away. He was ours before he recovered his
senses, he was so much surprised. About 200 yards in front of us, I
could see the boys in blue lounging around an old sawmill, with their
horses tied by their halters to the fence. It was past twelve o'clock,
and the sun was shining brightly, but there was a deep snow on the
ground. They were as unconscious of the presence of danger as if they
had been at their own peaceful homes among the Green Mountains. It
happened to be just the hour for the relief to come from their camp at
Dranesville. They saw us approaching, but mistook us for friends. When
we got within 100 yards, I ordered a charge. They had no time to mount
their horses, and fled, panic-stricken, into the sawmill and took
refuge on the upper floor. I knew that if I gave them time to recover
from the shock of their surprise they could hold the mill with their
carbines against my force until reënforcements reached them.

The promptness with which the opportunity was seized is the reason that
they were lost and we were saved. They were superior in numbers, with
the advantage of being under cover. The last ones had hardly got inside
the mill before we were upon them. I dismounted and rushed into the
mill after them, followed by John De Butts. The enemy were all above
me. As I started up the steps I ordered the men to set fire to the
mill. I knew that this order would be heard overhead and increase
the panic. The mill was full of dry timber and shavings that would
have burned them to cinders in ten minutes. As I reached the head of
the stairway I ordered a surrender. They all did so. They had the
alternative of doing this or being roasted alive. In a minute more the
mill would have been in flames. Against such an enemy they had no
weapon of defence, and, in preference to cremation, chose to be
prisoners. On going out and remounting, I observed four finely
caparisoned horses standing in front of the house of Nat Hanna, a Union
man. I knew that the horses must have riders, and that from their
equipments they must be officers. I ordered some of the men to go into
the house and bring them out. They found a table spread with milk,
honey, and all sorts of nice delicacies for a lunch. But no soldiers
could be seen, and Mrs. Hanna was too good a Union woman to betray
them. Some of the men went upstairs, but by the dim light could see
nothing on the floor. Ames opened the door to the garret; he peeped in
and called, but it was pitch dark, and no one answered. He thought it
would do no harm to fire a shot into the darkness. It had a magical
effect. There was a stir and a crash, and instantly a human being was
seen descending through the ceiling. He fell on the floor right among
the men. The flash of the pistol in his face had caused him to change
his position, and in doing so he had stepped on the lathing and fallen
through. His descent had been easy and without injury to his person. He
was thickly covered with lime dust and mortar. After he was brushed
off, we discovered that we had a major. His three companions in the
dark hole were a captain and two lieutenants, who came out through the
trap-door, and rather enjoyed the laugh we had on the major. As we left
the house the lunch disappeared with us. It was put there to be eaten.
The major was rather dilatory in mounting. He knew that the relief was
due there, and was in hope not only of a rescue, but of turning the
tables and taking us with him to his camp. But fate had decreed
otherwise. He was admonished of the importance of time to us, and that
he must go right on to Richmond, where he had started to go the year

As soon as possible, John Underwood, with a guard, went on in advance
with the prisoners. Just as we left the railroad station the relief
appeared in sight. I remained behind with a dozen men as a rear-guard,
to keep them back until Underwood had got far ahead. The relief party
hung on in sight of me for some distance, but never attacked. After I
crossed the Horsepen, which almost swam our horses, I started off at a
gallop, thinking the pursuit was over. This emboldened the pursuers,
and a few came on and crossed after me. I saw that they were divided,
and I halted, wheeled, and started back at them. They did not wait for
me, but got over the stream as fast as they could. One fellow got a
good ducking. I was now master of the situation. I drew up on a hill
and invited them to come across, but they declined. I was not molested
any more that day. A rather ludicrous thing occurred when we made the
attack at the station. There was a so-called Union man there, named
Mayo Janney. As he lived just on the outskirts of the picket line, he
was permitted to conduct a small store, and trade with Washington. He
had been down to the city, and, with other things, had brought out a
hogshead of molasses, which he intended to retail to his neighbors at
speculative prices. The element of danger in such a trade was, of
course, largely considered in estimating the market value of the
merchandise. Janney had his store in the vacant railroad depot. He had
just knocked out the bung of the barrel of molasses, and was in the
act of drawing some to fill the jug of a customer, when he heard the
clatter and yell of my men, as they rushed down on the terrified
pickets. As Herndon Station and the region round about was supposed to
be in the exclusive occupation of the army of the United States, he
could not have been more surprised at an earthquake, or if a comet had
struck the earth. Forgetting all about the molasses, which he had left
pouring out of the barrel, he rushed wildly to the door to see what was
the matter. He saw the Vermont cavalry flying in every direction in
confusion, and whizzing bullets passing unpleasantly close to his ears.
Now, to be a martyr in any cause was just the last thing which a man
in Fairfax, who had taken an oath to support the constitution of the
United States, had any idea of being. Janney's idea of supporting the
Union was to make some money out of it, and a living for his family.
But he did not consider that his oath required him to stay there to be
shot, or to help to bury or bind up the wounds of those who might be.
His idea of honor was as selfish and material as Sir John Falstaff's.
He preferred remaining a live man without it, to being a dead one who
died with it yesterday. So Janney ran away as fast as his legs could
carry him, and, if possible, his molasses ran faster than he did. He
did not return for several hours to view the field. When he at last
mustered up courage to go back, he found the molasses about shoe-deep
all over the floor, but not a drop in the barrel. Now, Janney's loyalty
to the Union was not altogether above suspicion. It was suspected that
he had taken the oath for profit, and probably to enable him to act as
a spy for me. The loss of his molasses proved his innocence; but for
that fact he would have been arrested and sent to board at the Old
Capitol on the charge of having given me the information on which I had

When I overtook my command at Middleburg, I found Dick Moran, after the
style of the ancient bards, in the street, rehearsing the incidents of
the day to an admiring crowd. I paroled the privates and let them go
home, as I could not then spare a guard to take them back to the
Confederate lines, which were at Culpepper. I put the four officers on
their parole to report at Culpepper to Fitz Lee, and sent with them,
simply as an escort, a Hungarian whom we called Jake. On the way out
they spent one night at a farmer's house. Now, Jake had been a soldier
under Kossuth, and having had some experience in Austrian perfidy, had
no sort of confidence in the military value of a parole. When time came
for the officers to go to bed, Jake volunteered to take their boots
down to the kitchen to be blacked. He had no fears of their leaving,
bare-footed, in the snow, as long as he held on to their boots. Jake
told me, with a chuckle, of his stratagem, on his return. He never
doubted that it kept his prisoners from going away that night.

    DRANESVILLE, VA., March 24, 1863.

    COLONEL:--I have the honor to report, on the 17th instant, at 1
    P.M., the reserve picket post at Herndon Station, consisting of
    twenty-five men, under command of Second Lieut. Alexander G.
    Watson, Company L, First Vermont Cavalry, was surprised by Capt.
    Mosby, with a force of forty-two men, and twenty-one of our men,
    together with Maj. William Wells, Capt. Robert Schofield, Company
    F, and Second Lieut. Alexander G. Watson, Company L, and Perley C.
    J. Cheney, Company C (second lieutenant) captured, all of First
    Vermont Cavalry; the three first were visiting the post. The
    surprise was so complete the men made but little or no resistance.
    The enemy were led on by citizens and entered on foot by a
    bridle-path in rear of the post, capturing the vidette stationed
    on the road before he was able to give the alarm. Every effort was
    made, on receipt of the intelligence by me, to capture the party,
    but without avail. Had Second Lieut. Edwin H. Higley, Company K,
    First Vermont Cavalry, who had started with the relief for the
    post, consisting of forty men, together with ten of the old guard,
    who joined him, performed his duty, the whole party could, and
    would, have been taken. I cannot too strongly urge that orders may
    be given that all citizens near outpost must remove beyond the
    lines. Such occurrences are exceedingly discreditable, but
    sometimes unavoidable, not only calculated to embolden the enemy,
    but dispirit our men. I am, &c.,

    _Major, Commanding Post_.

    _Commanding, &c._

    NEAR PIEDMONT, VA., March 18, 1863.

    GENERAL:--Yesterday I attacked a body of the enemy's cavalry at
    Herndon Station, in Fairfax County, completely routing them. I
    brought off twenty-five prisoners--a major (Wells), one captain,
    two lieutenants, and twenty-one men, all their arms, twenty-six
    horses and equipments. One, severely wounded, was left on the
    ground. The enemy pursued me in force, but were checked by my
    rear-guard and gave up the pursuit. My loss was nothing.

    The enemy have moved their cavalry from Germantown back of Fairfax
    Court House on the Alexandria pike.

    In this affair my officers and men behaved splendidly, &c.

    JNO. S. MOSBY,
    _Captain, &c._


    MAJ.-GEN. J. E. B. STUART.

    March 21, 1863.

    Respectfully forwarded for the information of the department and as
    evidence of the merit and continued success of Captain Mosby.

    R. E. LEE,


    "'Tis sweet to win, no matter how, one's laurels.
    By blood or ink."--_Don Juan._

During the time I had been operating against the outposts of the Union
army in Northern Virginia I kept up a regular correspondence with
Stuart by means of couriers, and reported to him the result of every
action. The base from where I operated was on its flank, and so I
compelled it to present a double front. The prisoners taken were
sometimes released on their paroles, but generally sent out under
charge of a guard to the provost marshal at Culpepper Court House. The
necessity of making the details for guard duty seriously diminished my
effective strength. It would take nearly a week for them to go over
and return, and I was often compelled to wait on that account before
undertaking an expedition. The men, too, who would join me to go on
a raid just to get a horse would generally quit as soon as it was
over to return to their own regiments. When an enterprise had been
accomplished, I was often left as forlorn as Montrose after fighting
and winning a battle with the undisciplined Highland clans--they had
all scattered and gone home with their plunder. I would have to give
notice of my place and time of meeting several days in advance, in
order to make sure of a sufficient number answering the call to effect
any good work. The longer I remained in the country, successful raids
became more difficult, as the enemy was all the time on the lookout,
and kept every point closely guarded. I had promised Stuart, as an
inducement to let me have some men, either to compel the enemy to
contract their lines in Fairfax County or to reinforce them heavily.
Having no fixed lines to guard or defined territory to hold, it was
always my policy to elude the enemy when they came in search of me,
and carry the war into their own camps.

This was the best way to keep them at home. To have fought my own
command daily, on equal terms and in open combats against the thousands
that could have been brought against it by the North, would soon have
resulted in its entire annihilation. I endeavored to compensate for my
limited resources by stratagems, surprises, and night attacks, in which
the advantage was generally on my side, notwithstanding the superior
numbers we assailed. For this reason, the complaint has often been made
against me that I would not fight fair. So an old Austrian general
complained that Bonaparte violated all military maxims and traditions
by flying about from post to post in Italy, breaking up his cantonments
and fighting battles in the winter time. The accusations that have been
made against my mode of warfare are about as reasonable. In one sense
the charge that I did not fight fair is true. I fought for success and
not for display. There was no man in the Confederate army who had less
of the spirit of knight-errantry in him, or took a more practical view
of war than I did. The combat between Richard and Saladin by the
Diamond of the Desert is a beautiful picture for the imagination to
dwell on, but it isn't war, and was no model for me. The poets have
invested the deeds of the Templars with the colors of romance; but if
they were half as generous as they were said to have been, it was
because their swords, and not their hearts, were dedicated to a cause.

I never admired and did not imitate the example of the commander who
declined the advantage of the first fire. But, while I conducted war on
the theory that the end of it is to secure peace by the destruction of
the resources of the enemy, with as small a loss as possible to my own
side, there is no authenticated act of mine which is not perfectly in
accordance with approved military usage. Grant, Sheridan, and Stonewall
Jackson had about the same ideas that I had on the subject of war. I
will further add that I was directly under the orders of Stuart up to
the time of his death, in May, 1864, and after that time, of Gen.
Robert E. Lee, until the end of the war. With both of these two great
Christian soldiers I had the most confidential relations. My military
conduct received from them not only approbation, but many encomiums. In
a letter received from Stuart about this, he said, "I heartily wish you
great and increasing success in the glorious career on which you have

In September, 1864, I visited Gen. Lee at his headquarters, near
Petersburg. I had been badly wounded a week or so before by a bullet,
which I still carry in me. When he saw me hobbling up to him on my
crutches, he came to meet me, and said, as he extended his hand,
"Colonel, I have never had but one fault to find with you--you are
always getting wounded." I mention this circumstance to show that all
I did had the sanction of the commander of the army of Northern Virginia,
of which my own command--the Forty-third Battalion of Virginia
Cavalry--was a part. I was independent simply in the sense that both
Gen. Lee and Gen. Stuart had such confidence in me that they never
undertook to trammel me with orders, but gave me full discretion to act
as I chose. After the death of Stuart, Gen. Lee frequently wrote to me,
although we were separated by a distance of over a hundred miles. All
of his letters are in his own handwriting. What were called my
depredations had caused another brigade of cavalry to be sent into
Fairfax to protect Washington. The frequent incursions we had made down
there created great alarm and an apprehension that they might be
extended across the Potomac. The deliberations of the Senate were
frequently disturbed by the cry that the Gauls were at the gate. One
day I rode down on a scout in sight of the dome of the Capitol, when a
wagon came along, going to Washington, which was driven by the wife of
a Union man who had left his home in Virginia and taken refuge there. I
stopped it, and, after some conversation with the driver, told her who
I was. With a pair of scissors she had I cut off a lock of my hair and
sent it to Mr. Lincoln, with a message that I was coming to get one of
his soon. A few days after this, I saw in the _Star_ that it had
been delivered to him, and that the President enjoyed the joke.

After returning from my last expedition to Herndon Station, I had sent
John Underwood down to search along the lines for a weak point where I
might make a successful attack. This had now become very difficult to
do. There had been so many real and false alarms that the pickets were
always on the watch, and slept with their eyes open. The videttes were
stationed so close together that it was impossible to pass them without
being discovered; and a snowbird could not fly by without being fired
at. They had so strengthened their lines that, where formerly there had
been not over a dozen men, there were now a hundred. If there was a
hole anywhere, I knew that John Underwood would find it. I had about
that time received another recruit, who became famous in the annals of
my command. His home was in Loudoun, and his name was William Hibbs. He
was always called the "Major," although he never held a commission. He
was a blacksmith by trade, over fifty years old, and had already fully
discharged the duty he owed to the Southern Confederacy by sending his
two sons into the army. But for my appearance in the vicinity, he would
probably have lived and died unheard.

The fame of the exploits of my men, and the rich prizes they won,
aroused his martial ambition; and he determined to quit the forge and
become a warrior bold. The country soon echoed the notes of his fame,
as the anvil had once rung with the strokes of his hammer. Around the
triumvirate--Dick Moran, John Underwood, and Major Hibbs--recruits
now gathered as iron filings cluster around a magnet. They were the
germs from which my command grew and spread like a banyan tree. Beattie,
who was always my faithful Achates, had been captured, but was soon
afterward exchanged. Underwood, on his return from his scout, reported
a body of about 100 cavalry at Chantilly, which was in supporting
distance of several other bodies of about equal numbers. An attack
on the post there would be extremely hazardous, on account of the
proximity of the others. The chance of success was a poor one; but,
as about fifty men had assembled to go with me, I did not like to
disappoint them. Each man wanted a horse, as well as a leader to show
him how to get one. They were all willing to risk a good deal, and so
was I. We started off for Chantilly, down the Little River Turnpike, as
the mud prevented our travelling any other route. The advantage of
attacking at Chantilly was not only that we had a good road to travel
on, but I knew it was the very last place they expected I would attack.
They did not look for my approach in broad daylight along the pike, but
thought I would come by some crooked path after dark through the pines.

I had never asked a commission of the Confederate government, but the
warfare I had been conducting had attracted the attention of Gen.
Robert E. Lee, who not only complimented me in general orders published
to the army, but at his request the President of the Confederate States
sent me a commission as captain, with authority to organize a company
of cavalry. This was succeeded, in the course of two or three weeks,
with a commission of major. Before the close of the war I became a full
colonel, which was the highest rank I got. My first commission was
accompanied by the following letter:--

    March 23, 1863.

    CAPT. J. S. MOSBY, _through Major-General Stuart_.

    CAPTAIN:--You will perceive from the copy of the order herewith
    inclosed that the President has appointed you captain of partisan
    rangers. The general commanding directs me to say that it is
    desired that you proceed at once to organize your company, with
    the understanding that it is to be placed on a footing with all
    the troops of the line, and to be mustered unconditionally in the
    Confederate service for and during the war. Though you are to be
    its captain, the men will have the privilege of electing the
    lieutenants so soon as its members reach the legal standard. You
    will report your progress from time to time, and when the
    requisite number of men are enrolled, an officer will be
    designated to muster the company into the service.

    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    W. W. TAYLOR, _A.A.G._

The partisan ranger law was an act of the Confederate Congress
authorizing the President to issue commissions to officers to organize
partisan corps. They stood on the same footing with other cavalry
organizations in respect to rank and pay, but, in addition, were given
the benefit of the law of maritime prize. There was really no novelty
in applying this principle to land forces. England has always done so
in her Majesty's East Indian service, and the spoils of Waterloo were
divided among the captors, of which Wellington took his share. The
booty of Delhi was the subject of litigation in the English Court of
Chancery, and Havelock, Campbell and Outram returned home from the East
loaded with barbaric spoils. As there is a good deal of human nature in
people, and as Major Dalgetty is still the type of a class, it will be
seen how the peculiar privileges given to my men served to whet their
zeal. I have often heard them disputing over the division of the horses
before they were captured, and it was no uncommon thing for a man to
remind me just as he was about going into a fight that he did not get a
horse from the last one. On the Chantilly raid I was accompanied by
Captain Hoskins, an English officer, who had just reported to me with a
letter from Stuart. He had been a captain in the English army and had
won the Crimean medal. After the conclusion of peace he had returned
home, but disliking the monotonous life of the barracks, had sold his
commission and joined Garibaldi in his Sicilian expedition. He was a
thorough soldier of fortune, devoted to the profession of arms, and
loved the excitement of danger and the joy of battle. He had been
attracted to our shores by the great American war, which offered a
field for the display of his courage and the gratification of his
military tastes. He was a noble gentleman and a splendid soldier, but
his career with me was short. A few weeks after that he fell fighting
by my side.

I mounted Hoskins and his companion, Captain Kennon, on captured
horses, and they went to try their luck with me. The post at Chantilly
was only two miles from the camp of a division of cavalry, and flanked
by strong supporting parties on each side. When I got within two or
three miles of it, I turned obliquely off to the right, in order to
penetrate, if possible, between them and Centreville, and gain their
rear. But they were looking out for me, and I found there was no chance
for a surprise. I despaired almost of doing anything; but as I did not
want to go back without trying to do something, I ordered a few men to
chase in the pickets, in hopes that this would draw their main body out
for some distance. They did so, and several were killed and captured.
From a high position I saw the reserve mount, form, and move up the
pike. I regained the pike also, so as not to be cut off. I got ready to
charge as soon as they were near, although I did not have half their
number, when I discovered another large body of cavalry, that had heard
the firing, coming rapidly from the direction of Fryingpan to reinforce
them. These were more than I had bargained to fight in the open, so I
ordered a retreat at a trot up the turnpike. I was certain that they
would pursue rapidly, thinking I was running away, and, getting strung
out along the pike, would lose their advantage in numbers, and give me
a chance to turn and strike back. My calculation was right. I kept my
men well closed up, with two some distance behind, to give me notice
when they got near. I had just passed over a hill, and was descending
on the other side, when one of my men dashed up and said the enemy was
right upon me. I looked back, but they were not in sight. I could
distinctly hear their loud cheers and the hoofstrokes of their horses
on the hard pike. I had either to suffer a stampede or make a fight.
The cavalry officer is like the woman who deliberates--he's lost. If I
had gone a step further my retreat would have degenerated into a rout.

My horses were jaded by a long day's march, while the enemies' were
fresh. I promptly ordered the men to halt, right about wheel, and draw
sabres. It was all done in the twinkling of an eye. Fortunately, just
at the place where I halted was an abattis, formed of fallen trees,
which had been made by the army the year before. The men formed behind
these, as I knew that when they darted out it would create the
impression on my pursuers that I had drawn them into an ambuscade. As
they stood there, calmly waiting for me to give the word for the onset,

    A horrid front they form,
    Still as the breeze, but dreadful as the storm.

I had no faith in the sabre as a weapon. I only made the men draw their
sabres to prevent them from wasting their fire before they got to
closer quarters. I knew that when they got among them the pistol would
be used. My success had been so uninterrupted that the men thought that
victory was chained to my standard. Men who go into a fight under the
influence of such feelings are next to invincible, and are generally
victors before it begins. We had hardly got into position before the
head of the pursuing column appeared over the hill, less than 100 yards
off. They had expected to see our backs, and not our faces. It was a
rule from which, during the war, I never departed, not to stand still
and receive a charge, but always to act on the offensive. This was the
maxim of Frederick the Great, and the key to the wonderful successes he
won with his cavalry. At the order to charge, my men dashed forward
with a yell that startled and stunned those who were foremost in
pursuit. I saw them halt, and I knew then that they had lost heart and
were beaten. Before they could wheel, my men were among them. Those who
were coming up behind them, seeing those in front turn their backs, did
the same thing. They had no idea they were running away from the same
number of men they had been chasing. My men had returned their sabres
to their scabbards, and the death-dealing revolver was now doing its

The Union cavalry had assumed, as I thought they would, that my retreat
had only been feigned to draw them into a trap. They could not
understand why I ran away just to run back again. They had no time to
ascertain our numbers or to recover from the shock of their surprise in
finding us drawn up to receive them. I never witnessed a more complete
rout, or one with less cause for it. The chase continued two or three
miles. It was almost dark when we stopped. I remember that in the first
set of fours that led the charge were three young men, James W. Poster,
Thomas W. Richards, and William L. Hunter, to whom I gave commissions
for their gallant conduct. They all have since won honorable positions
in civil life. We left the killed and wounded on the field, brought off
thirty-six prisoners and about fifty horses. By strategy and hard
fighting, four times our numbers had been defeated. The only casualty
in my command happened to Major Hibbs, who had his boot-heel shot off.
He had been one of the foremost leaders in the charge, and like Byron's
corsair, everywhere in the thickest of the fight "shone his mailed
breast and flashed his sabre's ray." When the "Major" rode up to me,
after the fight was over, he was almost a maniac, he was so wild with
delight. And when, in the presence of all the men, I praised his valor,
he could no longer contain himself; he laughed and wept by turns. All
that he could say in reply was: "Well, Captain, I knew the work had to
be done, and that was the way to do it." One thing is certain, the
Major got a good horse as a reward. The regiment we had fought happened
to be the very one to which Ames had belonged, and from which he had
deserted a few weeks before to join me. He had gone through their ranks
like an avenging angel, shooting right and left. He took a malicious
pleasure in introducing some of his old comrades to me. I could not
help feeling a pang of regret that such courage as his should be
stained with dishonor. It was Hoskins's first fight with me. He said it
was better than a fox chase. I recall his image now as it rises above
the flood of years, as he hewed his path through the broken ranks. It
was a point of honor or of military etiquette with him to use his sword
and not his pistol. In this way he lost his life. I reported to Stuart
the result of the engagement and received from him the following letter
in reply:

    March 27, 1863.

    CAPTAIN:--Your telegram announcing your brilliant achievement 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

    J. E. B. STUART,
    _Major-General Commanding_.

    CAPTAIN J. S. MOSBY, _Commanding, etc._

    FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, March 23, 1863.

    SIR:--At 5 P.M., our picket in front of Chantilly was attacked.
    The videttes were on the alert, and gave the alarm. The reserve of
    about 70 men were immediately under arms, and charged the enemy,
    who fled for 2 miles along the Little River turnpike. Between
    Saunder's toll-gate and Cub Run there is a strip of woods about a
    half a mile wide through which the road runs. Within the woods,
    and about a quarter of a mile apart, are two barricades of fallen
    trees; our troops pursued the enemy between these barricades.
    Behind the latter, some of the enemy were concealed. The head of
    the column was here stopped by a fire of carbines and pistols, and
    also by a fire upon the flank from the woods. The column broke,
    and was pursued by the enemy 1-1/2 miles. It was then rallied by
    the exertions of Majors Bacon and White. Captains McGuinn and
    Hasbrouck, when they heard of the alarm, proceeded on a gallop
    from Fryingpan, and, joining Major White's command, pursued the
    enemy for 8 miles. Night coming on, and the enemy being more
    numerous than we were, and our horses exhausted, the column halted
    and returned to Chantilly. The line of pickets is now established.
    Our loss is, killed, Corporal Gilles, Company H. Fifth New York
    Cavalry; James Doyle, Company C; John Harris, Company L. Mortally
    wounded, Sergeant Leahey, Company C. Lieutenant Merritt taken

    _Lieutenant Colonel Commanding._

    _Commanding Cav. Brig._


    March 26, 1863.

    GENERAL:--On the 25th [23] instant Capt. Mosby attacked and routed
    a body of the enemy's cavalry on the Little River turnpike, near
    Chantilly. He reports 10 killed and wounded--and a lieutenant and
    30 [35] men, with their horses, arms, and equipments captured. He
    sustained no loss ... etc.

    R. E. LEE, _General_.

    FAUQUIER COUNTY, VA., April 7, 1863.

    GENERAL:--I have the honor to submit the following report of the
    operations of the cavalry under my command since rendering my last
    report. On Monday, March 16, I proceeded down the Little River
    pike to capture two outposts of the enemy, each numbering 60 or 70
    men. I did not succeed in gaining their rear as I expected, and
    only captured 4 or 5 videttes. It being late in the evening, and
    our horses very much jaded, I concluded to return. I had gone not
    over a mile back when we saw a large body of the enemy's cavalry,
    which, according to their own reports, numbered 200 men, rapidly
    pursuing. I feigned a retreat, desiring to draw them off from
    their camps. At a point where the enemy had blockaded the road
    with fallen trees, I formed to receive them, for with my knowledge
    of the Yankee character I knew they would imagine themselves
    fallen into an ambuscade. When they had come within 100 yards of
    me I ordered a charge, to which my men responded with a vim that
    swept everything before them. The Yankees broke when we got in 75
    yards of them; and it was more of a chase than a fight for 4 or 5
    miles. We killed 5, wounded a considerable number, and brought off
    1 lieutenant and 35 men prisoners. I did not have over 50 men with
    me, some having gone back with the prisoners and others having
    gone on ahead, when we started back, not anticipating any pursuit.
    On Monday, March 31, I went down in the direction of Dranesville
    to capture several strong outposts in the vicinity of that place.
    On reaching there I discovered that they had fallen back about 10
    miles down the Alexandria pike. I then returned 6 or 8 miles back
    and stopped about 10 o'clock at night at a point about 2 miles
    from the pike. Early the next morning one of my men, whom I had
    left over on the Leesburg pike, came dashing in, and announced the
    rapid approach of the enemy. But he had scarcely given us the
    information when the enemy appeared a few hundred yards off,
    coming up at a gallop. At this time our horses were eating; all
    had their bridles off, and some even their saddles--they were all
    tied in a barnyard.

    Throwing open the gate I ordered a counter-charge, to which my men
    promptly responded. The Yankees never dreaming of our assuming the
    offensive, terrified at the yells of the men as they dashed on,
    they broke and fled in every direction. We drove them in confusion
    seven or eight miles down the pike. We left on the field nine of
    them killed--among them a captain and lieutenant--and about fifteen
    too badly wounded for removal; in this lot two lieutenants. We
    brought off 82 prisoners, many of these also wounded. I have since
    visited the scene of the fight. The enemy sent up a flag of truce
    for their dead and wounded, but many of them being severely
    wounded, they established a hospital on the ground. The surgeon who
    attended them informs me that a great number of those who escaped
    were wounded. The force of the enemy was six companies of the First
    Vermont Cavalry, one of their oldest and best regiments, and the
    prisoners inform me that they had every available man with them.
    There were certainly not less than 200; the prisoners say it was
    more than that. I had about 65 men in this affair. In addition to
    the prisoners, we took all their arms and about 100 horses and
    equipments. Privates Hart, Hurst, Keyes and Davis were wounded. The
    latter has since died. Both on this and several other occasions
    they have borne themselves with conspicuous gallantry. In addition
    to those mentioned above I desire to place on record the names of
    several others, whose promptitude and boldness in closing in with
    the enemy contributed much to the success of the fight. They are
    Lieutenant Chapman (late of Dixie Artillery), Sergt. Hunter and
    Privates Wellington and Harry Hatcher, Turner, Wild, Sowers, Ames
    and Sibert. There are many others, I have no doubt, deserving of
    honorable mention, but the above are only those who came under my
    personal observation. I confess that on this occasion I had not
    taken sufficient precautions to guard against surprise. It was 10
    [o'clock] at night when I reached the place where the fight came
    off on the succeeding day. We had ridden through snow and mud
    upwards of 40 miles, and both men and horses were nearly broken
    down; besides, the enemy had fallen back a distance of about 18

    _Captain Commanding_.

    MAJ.-GEN. J. E. B. STUART.


    April 11, 1863.

    Respectfully forwarded, as in perfect keeping with his other
    brilliant achievements. Recommended for promotion.

    J. E. B. STUART,

    April 13, 1863.

    Respectfully forwarded for the information of the Department.
    Telegraphic reports already sent in.

    R. E. LEE, _General_.

    APRIL 22, 1863.

    Adjutant-General:--Nominate as major if it has not been previously

    J. A. S. [SEDDON], _Secretary_.


    "Olympicum pulverem collegisse juvat."--_Horace._

After the fight at Chantilly and division of the booty the men who were
with me, as usual, disappeared. Of the original fifteen who had come
with me from the army for temporary service, five or six had been
captured one night at a dancing frolic. Beattie was not in this party
when he was made a prisoner, but was captured in a fight. I gave notice
of a meeting at Rector's X roads, in Loudoun County, for the 31st of
March. I had no idea until I got on the ground how many men I would
have to go with me on my next raid, although I was confident that the
success of my last one would attract a good many soldiers who were then
at their homes on furlough. I was promptly there at the appointed time,
and very soon sixty-nine men mustered to go with me. This was the
largest force I had ever commanded up to that time. The shaking up of a
kaleidoscope does not produce more variegated colors than the number of
strange faces that appeared among them. I had never seen more than a
dozen of them before, and very few of them had ever seen each other. I
remember that there were several of the Black Horse Company with them.
The force, therefore, lacked the cohesion and esprit de corps which
springs from discipline and the mutual confidence of men who have long
been associated together. I had no subordinate officer to aid me in
command. They were better dressed, but almost as motley a crowd as
Falstaff's regiment. There were representatives of nearly all the
cavalry regiments in the army, with a sprinkling of men from the
infantry, who had determined to try their luck on horseback. A good
many of this latter class had been disabled for performing infantry
duty by wounds; there were others who had been absent from their
regiments without leave ever since the first battle of Bull Run. There
were a number of the wounded men who carried their crutches along tied
to their saddle bows. As soon as their commanders heard that I had
reclaimed and converted them once more into good soldiers they not only
made requisition to have them returned to their regiments, but actually
complained to General Lee of their being with me.

Now I took a practical and not a technical view of the question, and
when a man volunteered to go into a fight with me I did not consider it
to be any more a duty of mine to investigate his military record than
his pedigree. Although a revolutionary government, none was ever so
much under the domination of red tape as the one at Richmond. The
martinets who controlled it were a good deal like the hero of Moliere's
comedy, who complained that his antagonist had wounded him by thrusting
in _carte_, when, according to the rule, it should have been in
_tierce_. I cared nothing for the form of a thrust if it brought
blood. I did not play with foils. The person selected to feed the army
was a metaphysical dyspeptic, who it is said, lived on rice-water, and
had a theory that soldiers could do the same. A man, to fill such a
position well, should be in sympathy with hungry men, on the principle
that he who drives fat oxen must himself be fat. When I received these
complaints, which were sent through, but did not emanate from
headquarters, I notified the men that they were forbidden any longer
to assist me in destroying the enemy. They would sorrowfully return to
their homes. It was no part of my contract to spend my time in the
ignoble duty of catching deserters. I left that to those whose taste
was gratified in doing the work. Several of these men, who had been
very efficient with me, were, on my application, transferred to me by
the Secretary of War. I always had a Confederate fire in my rear as
well as that of the public enemy in my front. I will add that I never
appealed in vain for justice either to General R. E. Lee, General
Stuart, or the Secretary of War, Mr. Seddon.

And now, again, on the 31st of March, I set out once more to tempt
fortune in the Fairfax forests. The men who followed me with so much
zeal were not, perhaps, altogether of the saintly character or excited
by the pious aspirations of the Canterbury pilgrims who knelt at the
shrine of Thomas à Becket. Patriotism, as well as love of adventure,
impelled them. If they got rewards in the shape of horses and arms,
these were devoted, like their lives, to the cause in which they were
fighting. They were made no richer by what they got, except in the
ability to serve their country. I did not hope for much on this
expedition. The enemy had grown wary and were prepared for attack at
every point. But I knew that if I dispersed the men without trying to
do something I would never see them again.

The spring campaign was about to open, and most of them would soon be
recalled to the army, and I would be left a major without a command. I
concluded to attack the detached cavalry camp at Dranesville. In a
letter to Stuart a few weeks before, I had suggested that the cavalry
brigade then stationed at Culpepper Court House should do this. I said:
"There are about three hundred cavalry at Dranesville who are isolated
from the rest of the command, so that nothing would be easier than to
capture the whole force. I have harassed them so much that they do not
keep their pickets over half a mile from camp." For some reason, Stuart
did not undertake it. The reason was, I suppose, that he was saving his
cavalry for the hard work they would have to do as soon as Hooker
crossed the Rappahannock.

The enterprise looked hazardous, but I calculated on being able to
surprise the camp, and trusted a good deal to my usual good luck. Ames,
Dick Moran, Major Hibbs, and John Underwood, who never failed to be on
time, went with me. I thought I would vary my tactics a little this
time, and attack about dusk. They would hardly look for me at vespers;
heretofore I had always appeared either in the daytime or late at
night. I got to Herndon Station, where I had had the encounter two
weeks before with the Vermont cavalry, about sundown, and learned there
that the camp at Dranesville, which was about three miles off, had been
broken up on the day before, and the cavalry had been withdrawn beyond
Difficult Run, several miles below. This stream has its proper name, as
there are few places where it can be crossed, and I knew that these
would be strongly guarded. So it was hopeless to attempt anything in
that direction. As I was so near, I concluded to go on to Dranesville
that night, in hopes that by chance I might pick up some game. After
spending an hour or so there, we started up the Leesburg pike to find a
good place with forage for camping that night. I expected that our
presence would be reported to the cavalry camps below, which would
probably draw out a force which I could venture to meet. As all the
forage had been consumed for several miles around, we had to march five
or six miles to find any. About midnight we stopped at Miskel's farm,
which is about a mile from the turnpike and just in the forks of Goose
Creek and the Potomac.

Although it was the last day of March, snow was still lying on the
ground, and winter lingered on the banks of the Potomac. My authority
over the men was of such a transitory nature that I disliked to order
them to do anything but fight. Hence I did not put out any pickets on
the pike. The men had been marching all day, and were cold and tired.
The enemy's camps were about fifteen miles below, and I did not think
they could possibly hear of us before the next morning, when we would
be ready for them, if they came after us. We fed and picketed our
horses inside the barnyard, which was surrounded by a strong fence.
Sentinels were stationed as a guard over the horses, and to arouse us
in the event of alarm. Many of the men went to bed in the hay-loft,
while others, including myself, lay down on the floor in the front room
of the dwelling-house, before a big log fire. With my head on my saddle
as a pillow, I was soon in a deep sleep. We were within a few hundred
yards of the river, and there were Union camps on the other side; but I
had no fear of them that night. About sunrise the next morning, I had
just risen and put on my boots when one of the men came in and said
that the enemy on the hill over the river was making signals. I
immediately went out into the back yard to look at them. I had hardly
done so, when I saw Dick Moran coming at full speed across the field,
waving his hat, and calling out, "The Yankees are coming!"

He had stopped about two miles below, near the pike, and spent the
night with a friend; and just as he woke up, about daylight, he had
seen the column of Union cavalry going up the pike on our trail. By
taking a short cut across the fields, he managed to get to us ahead of
them. The barnyard was not a hundred yards from the house; and we all
rushed to it. But not more than one-third of our horses were then
bridled and saddled. I had buckled on my arms as I came out of the
house. By the time we got to the inclosure where our horses were, I saw
the enemy coming through a gate just on the edge of a clump of woods
about two hundred yards off. The first thing I said to the men was that
they must fight. The enemy was upon us so quick that I had no time to
bridle or saddle my horse, as I was busy giving orders. I directed the
men not to fire, but to saddle and mount quickly. The Union cavalry
were so sure of their prey that they shut the gates after passing
through, in order to prevent any of us from escaping. As Capt. Flint
dashed forward at the head of his squadron, their sabres flashing in
the rays of the morning sun, I felt like my final hour had come.
Another squadron, after getting into the open field, was at the same
time moving around to our rear. In every sense, things looked rather
blue for us. We were in the angle of two impassable streams and
surrounded by at least four times our number, with more than half of my
men unprepared for a fight. But I did not despair. I had great faith in
the efficacy of a charge; and in the affair at Chantilly had learned
the superiority of the revolver over the sabre. I was confident that we
could at least cut our way through them. The Potomac resounded with the
cheers of the troops on the northern bank, who were anxious spectators,
but could not participate in the conflict. When I saw Capt. Flint
divide his command, I knew that my chances had improved at least fifty
per cent. When he got to within fifty yards of the gate of the
barnyard, I opened the gate and advanced, pistol in hand, on foot to
meet him, and at the same time called to the men that had already got
mounted to follow me. They responded with one of those demoniac yells
which those who once heard never forgot, and dashed forward to the
conflict "as reapers descend to the harvest of death." Just as I passed
through the gate, at the head of the men, one of them, Harry Hatcher,
the bravest of the brave, seeing me on foot, dismounted, and gave me
his horse. Our assailants were confounded by the tactics adopted, and
were now in turn as much surprised as we had been. They had thought
that we would remain on the defensive, and were not prepared to receive
an attack. I mounted Harry Hatcher's horse, and led the charge. In a
few seconds Harry was mounted on a captured one whose rider had been
killed. When the enemy saw us coming to meet them they halted, and were

The powerful moral effect of our assuming the offensive, when nothing
but surrender had been expected, seemed to bewilder them. Before they
could recover from the shock of their surprise Captain Flint, the
leader, had fallen dead in their sight. Before the impetuous onset of
my men they now broke and fled. No time was given them to re-form and
rally. The remorseless revolver was doing its work of death in their
ranks, while their swords were as harmless as the wooden sword of
harlequin. Unlike my adversaries, I was trammelled with no tradition
that required me to use an obsolete weapon. The combat was short, sharp
and decisive. In the first moment of collision, they wheeled and made
for the gate which they had already closed against themselves. The
other squadron that had gone around us, when they saw their companions
turn and fly, were panic-stricken and forgot what they had been sent to
do. Their thoughts were now how to save themselves. Our capture was now
out of the question. They now started pell-mell for the gate in order
to reach it ahead of us. But by this time our men had all mounted, and
like so many furies were riding and shooting among their scattered
ranks. The gate was at last broken through by the pressure, but they
became so packed and jammed in the narrow passage that they could only
offer a feeble resistance, and at this point many fell under the deadly
fire that was poured in from behind. Everywhere above the storm of
battle could be heard the voices and seen the forms of the
Dioscuri--"Major" Hibbs and Dick Moran--cheering on the men as they
rode headlong in the fight. Dick Moran got into a hand-to-hand conflict
in the woods with a party, and the issue was doubtful, when Harry
Hatcher came up and decided it. There was with me that day a young
artillery officer--Samuel F. Chapman--who at the first call of his
State to arms had quit the study of divinity and become, like Stonewall
Jackson, a sort of military Calvin, singing the psalms of David as he
marched into battle. I must confess that his character as a soldier was
more on the model of the Hebrew prophets than the Evangelist or the
Baptist in whom he was so devout a believer. Before he got to the gate
Sam had already exhausted every barrel of his two pistols and drawn his
sabre. As the fiery Covenanter rode on his predestined course the
enemy's ranks withered wherever he went. He was just in front of me--he
was generally in front of everybody in a fight--at the gate. It was no
fault of the Union cavalry that they did not get through faster than
they did, but Sam seemed to think that it was. Even at that supreme
moment in my life, when I had just stood on the brink of ruin and had
barely escaped, I could not restrain a propensity to laugh.

Sam, to give more vigor to his blows, was standing straight up in his
stirrups, dealing them right and left with all the theological fervor
of Burly of Balfour. I doubt whether he prayed that day for the souls
of those he sent over the Stygian river. I made him a captain for it.
The chase was kept up for several miles down the pike. When the people
at Dranesville saw Capt. Flint pass through that morning in search of
me, they expected to see him return soon with all of us prisoners.
Among the first fugitives who had passed through, and showed the day's
disasters in his face, was a citizen who had hurried down the night
before to the camp of the Vermont cavalry to tell them where I was.
Thinking that Captain Flint had an easy thing of it, he had ridden with
him as a pilot, to witness my humiliation and surrender. He escaped
capture, but never returned to his home during the war. I doubt whether
his loyalty ever received any reward. He was also the first man to get
back to the camp he had left that morning on Difficult Run, where he
was about as welcome as the messenger who bore to Rome the tidings of
Cannæ. The reverend Sam was not satisfied with the amount of execution
he had done at the gate, but continued his slaughter until, getting
separated in the woods from the other men, he dashed into a squad of
the Vermont men, who were doing their best to get away, and received a
cut with a sabre. But one of my men, Hunter, came to his rescue, and
the matter in dispute was quickly settled. Down the pike the Vermont
cavalry sped, with my men close at their heels. Lieutenant Woodbury had
got three miles away, when a shot from Ames laid him low. They never
drew rein or looked back to see how many were behind them. I got pretty
close to one, who, seeing that he was bound to be shot or caught,
jumped off his horse and sat down on the roadside. As I passed him he
called out to me, "You have played us a nice April fool, boys!" This
reminded me that it was the first day of April. Some of the men kept up
the pursuit beyond Dranesville, but I stopped there. The dead and
wounded were strewn from where the fight began, at Miskel's, for
several miles along the road. I had one man killed and three slightly
wounded. I knew that as soon as the news reached the camps in Fairfax a
heavy force would be sent against me, so I started off immediately,
carrying eighty-three prisoners and ninety-five horses, with all their

At Dranesville were two sutlers' stores that had not been removed by
their owners when the camps were broken up. These were, of course,
appropriated, and helped to swell the joy of the partisans. A more
hilarious party never went to war or a wedding than my men were
returning home. Danger always gives a keener relish for the joys of
life. They struck up a favorite song of Tom Moore's, "The wine cup is
sparkling before us," and the woods resounded with the melody. The dead
and wounded were left on the field to be cared for by citizens until
their friends could come after them. The number of prisoners I took
exceeded the number of my men. One of my command--Frank Williams--had
ridden early that morning to the house of a farmer to get his
breakfast. The Vermont cavalry came up and got between him and us, and
so Frank had to retreat. He, however, took two of them prisoners who
had straggled off on the same errand, and carried them along with him.
As he had seen such an overwhelming force go down upon us, and as he
knew that we were hemmed in by deep water on two sides, Frank took it
for granted that my star had set forever. He started off to carry the
news, and reached Middleburg that day, when he informed the citizen of
what he supposed was our fate. There was, of course, loud lamentation
over it, for many had a son or a brother or a lover there. Frank had
been there an hour or so anxiously waiting to hear something from us,
but dreading the worst, when suddenly a blue column was seen coming up
the pike. As blue was the predominant color, the first impression was
that the men in gray were prisoners. But soon Dick Moran, who was
riding in front, solved all doubts and fears as, with a voice louder
than a Triton's shell, he proclaimed, "All right."

    HEADQUARTERS, CAMP FRED'S, April 4, 1863.

    MR. PRESIDENT:--Maj. John S. Mosby reports that he was attacked
    early on the morning of the 2d [1st] instant, near Dranesville, by
    about 200 Vermont cavalry. He promptly repulsed them, leaving on
    the field 25 killed and wounded, including 3 officers, and brought
    off 82 prisoners, with their horses, arms, and equipments. His
    force consisted of 65 men, and his loss was 4 wounded.

    The enemy has evacuated Dranesville.

    I had the pleasure to send by return courier to Major Mosby his
    commission of major of Partisan Rangers, for which I am obliged to
    your Excellency.

    I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

    His Excellency Jefferson Davis,
    _President Confederate States of America, Richmond, Va._

    April 2, 1863.

    GENERAL:--I have the honor to submit the following report, which
    is, however, made up from verbal information received from Col.
    Price, Lieutenant-Colonel Johnstone, and Major Taggart. I will
    forward the written report as soon as it is received, and shall
    take all possible means to ascertain the true state of the
    case. It appears that on the evening of the 31st ultimo, Major
    Taggart, at Union Church, 2 miles above Peach Grove, received
    information that Mosby, with about 65 men, was near Dranesville.
    He immediately despatched Captain Flint, with 150 men of the First
    Vermont, to rout or capture Mosby and his force. Captain Flint
    followed the Leesburg and Alexandria road to the road which
    branches off to the right, just this side of Broad Run. Turning to
    the right, they followed up the Broad Run toward the Potomac, to a
    place marked "J. Mesed" [Miskel]. Here, at a house, they came on
    to Mosby, who was completely surprised and wholly unprepared for
    an attack from our forces. Had a proper disposition been made of
    our troops, Mosby could not, by any possible means, have escaped.
    It seems that around this house was a high board fence and a stone
    wall, between which and the road was also another fence and
    ordinary farm gate. Captain Flint took his men through the gate,
    and, at a distance from the house, fired a volley at Mosby and his
    men, who were assembled about the house, doing but slight damage
    to them. He then ordered a sabre charge, which was also
    ineffectual, on account of the fence which intervened. Mosby
    waited until the men were checked by the fence, and then opened
    his fire upon them, killing and wounding several. The men here
    became panic-stricken, and fled precipitately toward this gate,
    through which to make their escape. The opening was small, and
    they got wedged together, and a fearful state of confusion
    followed; while Mosby's men followed them up, and poured into the
    crowd a severe fire. Here, while endeavoring to rally his men,
    Captain Flint was killed, and Lieutenant Grout, of the same
    company, mortally wounded (will probably die to-day). Mosby's men
    followed in pursuit, and sabred several of our men on the road.
    Mosby, during his pursuit, is supposed to have received a sabre
    wound across the face which unhorsed him. The rebels took some
    prisoners, and a number of horses, and fell back in great haste.
    In comparison to the number engaged, our loss was very heavy. As
    soon as Major Taggart received the report, he sent Major Hall in
    pursuit of Mosby, and to bring in our killed and wounded. Upon
    receiving the first intelligence, I immediately sent out Colonel
    Price with a detachment of the Sixth and Seventh Michigan and
    First Virginia [Union] Cavalry, who searched in every direction;
    but no trace could be found of Mosby or his men, as information
    reached me too late.

    I regret to be obliged to inform the commanding general that the
    forces sent out by Major Taggart missed so good an opportunity of
    capturing this rebel guerilla. It is only to be ascribed to the bad
    management on the part of the officers and the cowardice of the
    men. I have ordered Colonel Price to make a thorough investigation
    of this matter, and shall recommend those officers who are guilty
    to be stricken from the rolls.

    The list of killed and wounded will be forwarded as soon as

    I have the honor to remain, your obedient servant,


    _Commanding, &c._


    "And thou, Dalhousie, thou great god of war,
    Lieutenant-Colonel to the Earl of Mar."--_Waller._

What in the newspaper slang of the day were termed "the depredations of
guerillas," in the vicinity of Washington, induced the authorities
there to make a change in outpost commanders. Wyndham, having played
an unsuccessful game for over two months, during which time his
headquarters had been raided, and his coat and hat carried off by us in
his absence, had given it up in despair, and been sent to join his
regiment at the front. The new person selected for the position was a
major-general in the army, and a whiskered pandour, whose experience in
foreign wars, it was hoped, would devise a remedy to suppress these
annoyances. As soon as he took command, the cavalry camps in Fairfax
resounded with the busy notes of preparation for a grand expedition,
which he had resolved to undertake against us. It could no longer be
endured that the war should be waged in full view of the dome of the
Capitol, and the outposts could not stand the wear and tear of a
perpetual skirmish, and the worry of lying awake all night waiting for
an invisible foe to come and kill or capture them.

The spring campaign was about to open, and if the hostile band that
created this trouble could be exterminated, the cavalry division, then
doing duty in Fairfax, might be thrown forward to the Rappahannock to
aid Hooker's operations. The Major-General was firmly persuaded, as no
one had ever seen our camp, that the so-called guerillas were nobody
but the country farmers, who collected together at night to make their
incursions, and dispersed by day to take care of their fields and
flocks. The fights at Chantilly and Dranesville ought to have convinced
him that the men who had routed his best regiments had some training in
war, and were no such irregular band as he imagined. It is true that,
after I began operations in that region, many took up arms and joined
me, who up to that time had followed peaceful pursuits. But whenever a
citizen joined me and became a soldier, he discarded the habiliments of
peace, put on his arms and uniform, and laid aside every other

When the struggle was over, they relapsed into the habits of their
former life, and like the Puritan soldiers of Cromwell, became as
marked for devotion to their civil duties as they had ever been in war.
As for myself, it was for a long time maintained that I was a pure
myth, and my personal identity was as stoutly denied as that of Homer
or the Devil. All historic doubts about my own existence have, I
believe, been settled; but the fables published by the Bohemians who
followed the army made an impression that still lives in popular

There is a lingering belief that my command was not a part of the
regularly organized military force of the Southern Confederacy. The
theory of the Major-General, though contradicted by facts staring him
in the face every day, got a lodgement in the minds of some people
which has never been effaced. It was to confirm it that he now
undertook to make a reconnoissance through the region infested by us.
It happened that just at that time Hooker was preparing once more to
cross the Rappahannock, and as a preliminary movement had sent Stoneman
with the cavalry corps up the river to seize the Orange and Alexandria
railroad and hold it as the line of communication with Washington.
The line that connects an army with its base of supplies is the heel
of Achilles--its most vital and vulnerable point. It is a great
achievement in war to compel an enemy to make heavy detachments to
guard it; it is equally as great a one to destroy the force that
threatens it. It was to effect this latter object that in April, 1863,
the Major-General set out on his expedition against me with two
brigades of cavalry and a battery of artillery, which was to be the
prelude of the opening of the campaign on the Rappahannock. Now it so
happened that just about that time I received a letter from Stuart
suggesting the capture of a train on the railroad. The effect of such a
stroke of course would be to create uneasiness and alarm about the
safety of Hooker's supplies.

The following is an extract from Stuart's letter: "There is now a
splendid opportunity to strike the enemy in the rear of Warrenton
Junction; the trains are running regularly to that point. Capture a
train and interrupt the operation of the railroad, though it may be,
by the time you get this, the opportunity may be gone. Stoneman's
main body of cavalry is located near Warrenton Junction, Bealeton and
Warrenton Springs. Keep far enough away from a brigade camp to give
you time to get off your plunder and prisoners. Information of the
movements of large bodies is of the greatest importance to us just now.
The marching or transportation of divisions will often indicate the
plan of a campaign. Be sure to give dates and numbers and names, as far
as possible."

I could offer no better proof than this letter of the useful services
that may be rendered by an active partisan corps in co-operation with
the movements of an army. It not only cripples an adversary, but
communicates intelligence of his movements. Accordingly I gave notice
for a meeting at Upperville to undertake an enterprise against the
railroad. I was willing to let the Union troops down in Fairfax rest
while I turned my attention to Joe Hooker. On the evening of the day
before the meeting I had been with Beattie up to the mountain to get a
fresh horse to ride on the raid, and we returned about dark. I met a
citizen, who informed me that a large Federal force was camped at
Middleburg, and that there had been artillery firing there during the
afternoon. I thought it was merely a false report that had gotten up a
stampede, for I had not heard the firing, and I could not conceive what
they could have been firing at, as we had no troops about there. I
supposed that if they had come after me they would have tried to keep
it a secret and make as little noise as possible.

About nine o'clock that night Beattie and I rode down in the direction
of Middleburg to find out if there was any truth in the rumor. When
we got on a high hill, about a mile off, that overlooks the town, we
stopped to reconnoitre. The night was very cold, with a drizzling rain.
Not a single camp-fire could be seen anywhere; and there was nothing to
indicate the bivouacs of a military force. I said to Beattie: "This is
just as I said--nothing but a stampede about nothing. If there were any
troops about there, they would have camp-fires on such a cold night as
this." We then rode forward, but had only gone a few hundred yards
farther when we were halted and fired on by a picket. This, of course,
proved that the rumor was true.

We fell back. But it was a mystery I could not solve, why there should
be an encampment of troops in such weather without fires. Then, too,
there had been artillery firing; what could possibly have been the
reason for that? The next morning I went, according to appointment,
to meet my men at Upperville, having sent out some scouts toward
Middleburg, which is eight miles distant. My desire was to let the
Union cavalry alone at Middleburg and strike the meditated blow at
Hooker, on the railroad. The force that had come up from Fairfax after
me had now been practically eliminated from the campaign. I wanted,
therefore, if possible, to slip away from them undiscovered. Early
that morning the Major-General put his column in motion on the pike
for Upperville; but he had only gone a couple of miles before his
advance-guard was driven in by Tom Richards and a few men. This caused
him to halt and get ready for action. On the day before, on his march
up the turnpike, he had seen horsemen on the hills watching him, who,
like the Arab when he folds his tent, had silently stolen away.

On reaching Middleburg, the clouds seemed to thicken around him; for he
had seen at least a dozen perched on the heights at different places
gazing at him. They were evidently ready to light down on any
stragglers, and bear them off in their talons. The Major-General
unlimbered his guns, and opened fire on every moving object in his
sight. He did no damage to anybody; but his firing gave notice for
miles around to people to get out of his way. There was a large grove
near Middleburg, in which he proposed to bivouac that night. But before
entering it, he shelled it so effectively as not only to expel any
guerillas that might be lurking there, but all animated nature. He
carried along a newspaper correspondent to chronicle his exploits. His
letter, published in the New York _Tribune_ shortly after that, made
clear a number of things which I had not been able to understand
before reading it. It praised his consummate skill and prudence in
allowing no camp-fires during the night, as they would have lighted
the way for the guerillas to attack him; while the destructive
artillery fire with which he had raked the forest showed that he
possessed the foresight of a great general. It was also stated that he
would only permit one half of his command to sleep at a time or
unbridle and unsaddle their horses. With unconscious irony the letter
concluded by stating that the result of the expedition had
demonstrated that Mosby hadn't over twenty-five men, who had been
totally exterminated. After remaining in line of battle for some time,
waiting for me to attack him, the Major-General determined not to
advance any farther toward Upperville, which lies just at the base of
the Blue Ridge.

It was surmised that the guerillas, like the Cyclops, had taken refuge
in caves on the mountainside, and there might be danger in approaching
too closely, so he turned squarely off to his left. On his line of
march he had swept the country of all the old men he could find, for he
was firmly persuaded that in doing so he was breaking up my band. No
plea in defence would be heard. A man named Hutchison, who was 70 years
old, and had always used crutches, was among the prisoners. In vain he
pleaded his age and infirmities as proof of the impossibility of his
being a guerilla. A Vermont soldier stepped forward, and swore that he
saw him leading the charge in the fight at Miskel's farm. He was sent
to Washington as a trophy. The captives under guard marched in the rear
of the column.

About eighty men had met me at Upperville. In order to elude the
Major-General, and execute my plan of capturing a train on the
railroad, I made a detour by Salem, going on toward Thoroughfare Gap in
the Bull Run Mountains. The Major-General and myself, being ignorant of
each other's plans, had also gone the same way, in order to avoid
meeting the force that had driven in his advance from Upperville.
Somehow he had got the idea in his head that a large body of Stuart's
cavalry was in the neighborhood, and he was not looking for them. An
hour or so after I had passed through Salem, the Major-General arrived
there. He had started to return to Fairfax by making a circuit around
through Thoroughfare Gap. Without any design on his part, he had struck
right on my track. As I was marching very leisurely,--for I did not
want to get to the railroad until about dark,--he might easily have
overtaken me; but he did not seem to have the least desire to do so. He
followed me at the rate of half a mile an hour. Having got all the old
farmers prisoners, the measure of his ambition was full. He had at last
destroyed the nest of vipers. He did not believe the body of cavalry
that had gone on ahead were the very men he pretended to be looking

Just as I reached Thoroughfare Gap, two of my men--Alfred Glasscock and
Norman Smith--came galloping up, and said that the enemy was pursuing
me. They had, for some reason, remained behind at Salem, and saw the
Major-General's command march through along the same road I was on. As
he was only one hour behind me there, I felt certain that he was almost
upon me. Some four miles back of where I was, the roads forked at a
village called the Plains, one leading to Thoroughfare, and the other
to Hopewell Gap in the Bull Run Mountains. I immediately wheeled
around, and crossed over on the Hopewell road and started back toward
the Plains. I supposed the Major-General was in pursuit of me, and as I
could not undertake with less than 100 men to attack in front 4000
cavalry and a battery of artillery, my intention was to try to cut off
his rear-guard before it passed the forks or the gap. But when I got on
a high hill overlooking the Plains, instead of meeting his rear-guard,
when I rode forward to reconnoitre, I saw his advance, that had just
got to the forks. I halted, so did they, while their whole column
rapidly deployed in line of battle, and the guns were placed in
battery, ready for the expected onset.

Every disposition was made by him to receive an attack. We stayed there
facing each other over one hour, until it grew dark, when I disbanded
my men. I had abandoned my enterprise against the railroad because I
supposed that it had been discovered where I was going, and that if I
went on, with the Major-General behind me and Stoneman's cavalry in
front, we would all be captured. He had learned at Salem that a body of
cavalry had passed through just ahead of him, and at the Plains he saw
that they had gone on the Thoroughfare road.

After giving us, as he supposed, ample time to get away, he started
on the same route, when, with surprise, he saw a body of cavalry
threatening him on the Hopewell road. He had no idea they were the same
cavalry whose track he was on. If he continued his line of march he
must go through one of the mountain passes, and remembering the fate of
the Persians at Thermopylæ, he determined now to halt. I took it for
granted that he had stopped to go into camp at the Plains. But he, not
knowing that I had disbanded my command and fearing a night attack, as
soon as it became dark began a retreat back toward Middleburg. Being a
cautious general, he did not go along the main public road, but cut
across fields and took private ways. The bridges across every stream he
crossed were broken down after he passed, although some were so narrow
that a man could jump over them, and trees were felled across the road
to prevent us from charging his rear. After marching all night he
reached the vicinity of Middleburg about daybreak and went into camp.
He had no idea that I had disbanded my men and gone off, but thought he
had eluded us. Now, it had never entered my head that he was going to
run away from me. Beattie and I had ridden on the same night over near
Middleburg, and I stopped at the house of George McArty. About daybreak
he came running to where we were sleeping and called out to us: "Boys!
get up quick--the Yankees are all around you." We jumped up, and two
or three hundred yards away we could see the field was blue with the
Major-General's command. We bridled and saddled our horses quickly and
rode off unmolested in full view of them. The Major-General and I had
been running away from each other a whole day and night, and then came
very near sleeping together. After taking a short rest from the fatigue
of his night march, he started back to Fairfax with the battalion of
graybeards he had taken prisoners, riding bareback with blind bridles
on broken-down plow-horses. They were marched down to Washington and
paraded through the streets to gratify the curiosity of the people.
They created a greater sensation than a circus. Such was the grand
anti-climax to the Major-General's Anabasis. It is so unique and
complete in itself that I will not mar its epic unity by adding
anything more to the narrative.

    March 9, 1863, 3.30 A.M.

    Capt. Mosby, with his command, entered this town this morning at
    2 A.M. They captured my patrols, horses, &c. They took
    Brigadier-General Stoughton and horses, and all his men detached
    from his brigade. They took every horse that could be found,
    public and private; and the commanding officer of the post,
    Colonel Johnstone, of the Fifth New York Cavalry, made his escape
    from them in a nude state by accident. They searched for me in
    every direction, but being on the Vienna road visiting outposts, I
    made my escape.

    L. L. CONNOR, _Provost-Marshal_.

    P.S. All our available cavalry forces are in pursuit of them.

    MAJ. HUNT, _Asst. Adjt. Gen._


Genl. Stahel's report to War Dept. says: "On the 13th day of March,
1863, the day after General Stoughton was captured at Fairfax C.H., I
was on my way from Stafford Court House to New York, on eight days'
leave of absence. Upon my arrival in Washington, I was summoned to
report at once to President Lincoln. He told me of the capture of Genl.
Stoughton and the insecure condition of our lines in front of
Washington. The President also said that he desired to have me in
command in front of Washington to put a stop to these raids. He wrote
a letter to Gen. Heintzelman, comdg. the Dept. of Washington, and
directed me to go and see him.... On the same day, the 17th of March, I
was appointed Major-General of Volunteers, to take date from the 14th
of March, 1863."

Gen. Stahel was relieved of his cavalry command on June 28th, 1863.

    FAIRFAX COURT HOUSE, April 11, 1863.

    GENERAL:--I have the honor to report with regard to the
    reconnoissance under command of Brig.-Gen. J. F. Copeland, which
    left this place on the 3d day of April, and returned here early
    on the morning of the 6th instant, that it proceeded as far as
    Middleburg, and searched diligently through that whole section
    of country without meeting any enemy in force or ascertaining
    definitely the whereabouts of Mosby. Small detachments of rebels,
    however, were occasionally seen, but scattered on the approach of
    our troops.

    On the 4th instant, early in the morning, in front of Middleburg, a
    collision occurred between one of his pickets and some of the
    enemy's, resulting in the death of one and the wounding of another
    on each side. During the expedition there were captured and
    arrested sixty-one prisoners, citizens and soldiers, fifty-three
    horses, two mules, a quantity of wheat, three wagons, saddles,
    bridles, guns, sabres, &c., all of which were turned over to the
    provost-marshal of this place, and by him to Colonel Baker
    Washington, a copy of whose receipt is inclosed within ... &c.


    _Commanding, &c._

There is no report on file of Major-General Stahel's expedition about
two weeks after this in search of Mosby.


    "Our acts our angels are--or good or ill,
    Our fatal shadows that walk by us still."

If I had known at the time of the major-general's expedition to
Fauquier all that I know now, I would not, of course, have abandoned
the enterprise against the railroad. I had thought that after he struck
my track at Salem, he was really in pursuit of me, although he only
followed at a terrapin's pace. I could not have anticipated that a
major-general, starting out to win his spurs, would retreat as soon as
he got in sight of the object he was in search of. I had disbanded my
men, with instructions to meet me again in a few days at a certain
place. I wanted to give the major-general time to get home, while I
could recruit my forces, pick my flint, and try again. As the troops
that belonged to the defences of Washington were now on the defensive,
it was my policy to let them alone, and turn my attention to Hooker's
army, which was then preparing to cross the Rappahannock. I could most
efficiently aid Gen. Lee by assailing Hooker in the rear. A partisan
commander who acts in co-operation with an army should always, if
possible, operate against troops engaged in offensive movements. The
Major-General was now resting on his laurels. For two months preceding
his raid into Fauquier, there had been incessant attacks on the
outposts, and daily alarm through the camps. All this had now suddenly
ceased, and the quiet that reigned was supposed to confirm the truth of
the report of the annihilation of my band.

On May 2, 70 or 80 men assembled at my call. I had information that
Stoneman's cavalry had left Warrenton and gone south, which indicated
that the campaign had opened. My plan now was to strike Hooker. The
moral effect of a blow from behind might have an important influence on
the result. I started for Warrenton, and reached there about dusk, and
learned that Stoneman was over the river. It was not known whether or
not the Orange & Alexandria railroad was still held by the Union
troops. I went into camp near the town that night, and started by
daylight the next morning on the road leading to Fredericksburg, which
crosses the railroad. I was sure that Hooker would not repeat the
blunder of Burnside, but would cross at some of the upper fords of the
Rappahannock. It was toward one of these that my course was directed.
The roar of the guns at Chancellorsville could be distinctly heard, and
we knew that the two armies were once more in the deadly embrace of

It was not more than fifteen or twenty miles off; and we could easily
reach there early in the day. I wanted to contribute my mite of support
to the Southern cause. When we were within a couple of miles of the
railroad a bugle was heard; and I turned aside and marched to the
sound. I thought it must come from a cavalry camp, which we might sweep
through as we went along. Before we had gone very far, an infantry
soldier was caught, who informed me that I was marching right into the
camp of an infantry brigade. I found out that there was some cavalry on
the railroad at another point, and so I made for that. These troops had
just been sent up to replace Stoneman's. I committed a great error in
allowing myself to be diverted by their presence from the purpose of my
expedition. They were perfectly harmless where they were, and could not
help Hooker in the great battle then raging. I should, at least, have
endeavored to avoid a fight by marching around them. If I had succeeded
in destroying them all, it would hardly have been the equivalent of the
damage I might have done to Hooker by appearing at United States ford
during the agony of the fight. There all of his wagons were packed. It
would be difficult to calculate the demoralizing effect of the news on
his army that the enemy was in their rear, and their trains and rations
were burning up.

Just as we debouched from the woods in sight of Warrenton Junction, I
saw, about 300 yards in front of us, a body of cavalry in the open
field. It was a bright, warm morning; and the men were lounging on the
grass, while their horses, with nothing but their halters on, had been
turned loose to graze on the young clover. They were enjoying the music
of the great battle, and had no dream that danger was near. Not a
single patrol or picket had been put out. At first they mistook us for
their own men, and had no suspicion as to who we were until I ordered a
charge and the men raised a yell. The shouting and firing stampeded the
horses, and they scattered over a field of several hundred acres, while
their riders took shelter in some houses near by. We very soon got all
out of two houses; but the main body took refuge in a large frame
building just by the railroad. I did not take time to dismount my men,
but ordered a charge on the house; I did not want to give them time to
recover from their panic. I came up just in front of two windows by the
chimney, from which a hot fire was poured that brought down several men
by my side. But I paid them back with interest when I got to the
window, into which I emptied two Colt's revolvers. The house was as
densely packed as a sardine box; and it was almost impossible to fire
into it without hitting somebody. The doors had been shut from the
inside; but the Rev. Sam Chapman dismounted, and burst through,
followed by John Debutts, Mountjoy, and Harry Sweeting. The soldiers in
the lower rooms immediately surrendered; but those above held out.
There was a haystack near by; and I ordered some of the hay to be
brought into the house and fire to be set to it. Not being willing to
be burned alive as martyrs to the Union, the men above now held out a
white flag from a window. The house was densely filled with smoke and
the floor covered with the blood of the wounded. The commanding
officer, Maj. Steel, had received a mortal wound; and there were many
others in the same condition. All who were able now came out of the

After a severe fight, I had taken three times my own number prisoners,
together with all their horses, arms and equipments. Most of my men
then dispersed over the field in pursuit of the frightened horses which
had run away. I was sitting on my horse near the house, giving
directions for getting ready to leave with the prisoners and spoil,
when one of my men, named Wild, who had chased a horse some distance
down the railroad, came at full speed, and reported a heavy column of
cavalry coming up. I turned to one of my men, Alfred Glasscock, and
said to him, "_Now we will whip them_." I had hardly spoken the
words when I saw a large body of Union cavalry, not over 200 or 300
yards off, rapidly advancing.

As I have stated, most of my command had scattered over the field, and
the enemy was so close there was no time to rally and re-form before
they got upon us. In attempting to do so, I remained on the ground
until they were within 50 yards of me, and was nearly captured. So
there was nothing to do but for every man to take care of himself. I
have already described the kind of command I had at this time. They
were a mere aggregation of men casually gathered, belonging to many
different regiments, who happened to be in the country.[2] Of course,
such a body has none of the cohesion and discipline that springs from
organization, no matter how brave the men may be individually. Men
never fought better than they did at the house, while the defenders
were inspired to greater resistance, knowing that relief was near. We
had defeated and captured three times our own number, and now had to
give up the fruits of victory, and in turn to fly to prevent capture.
My men fled in every direction, taking off about 50 horses and a number
of prisoners. Only one of my men--Templeman--was killed, but I lost
about 20 captured, nearly all of whom were wounded. Dick Moran was
among them. I never made a better fight than this, although finally
compelled to retreat before 10 times my own number.

          [2] I had no subordinate officer to help me in command.

As to its ulterior effects, it was about the same, as I shall hereafter
show, as if I had not lost what I had won. The cavalry I had met was
Deforest's brigade, that had come up the night before. As I have said,
it was a mistake my making this fight, even if I had been completely
successful. In all probability, it saved Hooker's transportation, just
as the fight of the Prussians at the bridge of the Dyle saved
Wellington, although they were beaten. It detained Grouchy long enough
to keep him from Waterloo. I learned wisdom from experience, and after
that always looked before I took a leap.

When I ordered the charge at Warrenton Junction, I had no idea whether
I was attacking a hundred or a thousand men.

Just one year after that, I started with the purpose of attacking the
rear of the army of the Potomac, at the same place where I had intended
to strike Hooker. I found the railroad guarded, but I crossed it
unnoticed in the dark, and went on. Lee and Grant had met in the
Wilderness. Grant had all of his transportation south of the river,
with cavalry pickets at the United States ford. There was no chance to
get at it. Hooker had left his on the north bank where I was. I got one
of Grant's trains near Aquia Creek, on the Lower Potomac; but when I
returned, a few days after that, to get another, found that he had
detached a cavalry force to protect that route. This was what I wanted
to make him do. It was that number of men subtracted from his strength.
After striking one blow at the line of supply of an army, a
demonstration will generally answer all the purposes of an attack.
Hooker did not stay in the Wilderness long enough for me to renew my
attempt to get at his trains. When, after my rout, I appeared at
Warrenton, attended by a single companion, where I had passed the night
before with my command, I was apparently as forlorn as Charles,

    After dread Pultowa's day,
    When fortune left the royal Swede.

But I felt no discouragement. My faith in my ability to create a
command and continue my warfare on the border was still as unwavering
as Francis Xavier's when he left the Tagus, to plant the cross on the
shores of Coromandel.

The enemy held the railroads as far south as the Rappahannock, and in a
few days I got together 30 or 40 men, and started down again to strike
them somewhere. I found the bridges over Broad Run and Kettle Run
unguarded; we set fire to them and left them in a blaze. It had not
been expected that we would come back so soon, hence their want of
precaution to provide for their safety. While the bridges were burning,
the soldiers who had been put there to protect them were dozing in
their tents not a mile off. In a few days I again went as far as
Dumfries, but could find no assailable point. The trains all carried
strong infantry guards, in addition to those stationed along the
railroad. I started back without having effected anything, and stopped
at the house of a man named Lynn, to rest and feed our horses. As we
were far inside the enemy's lines, there was some risk in this; but we
were tired and hungry. Our horses had been unbitted, and were eating
their corn, and I was lying on the grass asleep, when I was aroused
by the cry that the enemy was coming. We barely had time to bridle up
and mount before they were upon us. They came full speed on our trail,
and were strung out for a long distance on the road. This was my
opportunity. A lieutenant was gallantly leading them. I saved myself
this time by the same counter-stroke that a few weeks before had
rescued me from the brink of ruin in the fight at Miskel's farm. We
did not wait for the danger, but went to meet it. There was a gate
across the road, between us and the enemy, which I ordered to be opened.
We dashed through, and in the moment of collision the lieutenant
fell, severely wounded. Several others in the front met the same fate;
they had drawn sabres, that hurt nobody, and we used pistols. Their
companions halted, hesitated, and were overpowered before support could
come up. Some turned and fled, and in doing so communicated their panic
to those in their rear. They fled pell-mell back toward their camp,
leaving their dead and wounded on the field and a number of prisoners
and horses in our hands. I then had, in turn, to get away quickly. I
knew they would soon return with reinforcements; they did come, but we
were gone.

In returning, we crossed the railroad within a mile of Manassas, and in
full view of the troops there, but were not molested. I found out from
this raid the difficulty of making any impression with my small command
on the force guarding the road. I could keep them on the watch, and in
a state of anxiety and alarm; but, while this might satisfy Stuart and
Gen. Lee, the men on whom I had to depend to do the work would not be
content with such results. In order to retain them, it was necessary
for me to stimulate their enthusiasm with something more tangible. War
to them was not an abstraction; it meant prisoners, arms, horses and
sutler's stores; remote consequences were not much considered. So I
sent Beattie with a letter to explain the situation to Stuart, in
which I said: "If you will let me have a mountain howitzer, I think
I could use it with great effect, especially on the railroad trains.
I have several experienced artillerists with me. The effect of such
annoyance is to force the enemy to make heavy details to guard their
communications. I have not attacked any of their railroad trains,
because I have no ammunition for my carbines, and they are pretty
strongly guarded with infantry." In this letter I suggested the theory
on which my warfare was conducted. It would not only draw troops from
the front, but prevent those doing duty on the railroad and around
Washington from being sent to Hooker to make up his losses in the
Wilderness. These operations were erratic simply in not being in
accordance with the fixed rules taught by the academies; but in all
that I did there was a unity of purpose, and a plan which my commanding
general understood and approved. The Confederate drill sergeants could
see no use in what they could not comprehend.

In reference to the fight at Warrenton Junction, Gen. Abercrombie

"Between the hours of 9 and 10 A.M., on the morning of the 3d
ult., an outpost of the 1st Va. [Union] Cavalry at Warrenton Junction,
about 100 men, under Lieut.-Col. Krepp's command, were surprised and
attacked by Maj. Mosby, with his force of about 125 [75] men. The men
of the 1st Va. were scattered about the station, their horses
unsaddled, in order to be groomed and fed. Mosby's force came in upon
them from the direction of Warrenton, which place they left at
daylight. Their front rank was dressed in the uniform of the United
States [we were all dressed in gray. J.S.M.], and they were supposed
to be a force of Union cavalry until within a short distance, when they
charged, and surrounded the house in and about which the 1st Va. lay.
After a short fight, in which several of the rebels were killed and
wounded, the men of the 1st Va. for the most part surrendered, and
about 40 were being taken towards Warrenton by their captors, when a
detachment of 70 men of the 5th N.Y. Cavalry, which was camped near
by, under command of Maj. Hammond, came up, charged upon the rebels,
and a running fight ensued, which was continued for five miles, in the
course of which all the prisoners taken by Mosby were recaptured, with
the exception of two."

Major-General Stahel reports:

"Our men being surprised and completely surrounded, rallied in a house
close at hand, and where a sharp fight ensued. Our men defended
themselves as long as their ammunition lasted, notwithstanding the
Rebels built a large fire about the house, of hay and straw and
brushwood; the flames reached the house, and their ammunition being
entirely expended, they were obliged to surrender." Maj. Steele, of the
1st. Va., was mortally wounded in the house.


    Quis jam fluctus, quae regio in terris non nostri plena laboris.


At this time Gen. Lee was making the preliminary movement of the
Gettysburg campaign up the left bank of the Rappahannock, while Hooker
moved on a parallel line on the other. Pleasanton's cavalry corps was
massed on the river, near Rappahannock station, about fifty miles from
Washington, which was now covered by Hooker's army. In compliance with
my request, Stuart sent me a small mountain howitzer by Beattie. A
brigade of cavalry and one of infantry were lying between Manassas and
Catlett's station; and here was the only possible chance of reaching
the railroad without being discovered. On May 29, 1863, I set out with
about forty men, and my little gun, to strike it somewhere between
these points. I had no caisson; but carried fifteen rounds of
ammunition in the limber-chest. The enterprise on which I was going,
when judged by the common standards of prudence, appeared not only
hazardous but foolhardy. The camps of the enemy were distributed along
the road at intervals of one or two miles, with patrols continually
passing. Every train had on board a strong infantry guard. If I should
succeed in penetrating their lines and making a capture, it could not
be done without alarming the camps, which would make my retreat
difficult, if not impossible. But I thought the end justified the risk.
An attack, even by my small band, at such a critical time, might create
an important diversion in favor of Gen. Lee. If this could be done,
then the loss of the gun, and even of my whole command, would be as
dust in the balance against the advantage of it.

We bivouacked that night in the pines near Catlett's, and were awakened
in the morning by the reveille in the Union camps, which were a mile or
so distant on either side of us. There was a narrow pathway through the
pines, along which we marched until within a hundred yards of the
railroad. The telegraph wire was cut, and a rail sufficiently removed
to allow a train to run off the track. The howitzer was in charge of
the Rev. Sam Chapman, who had been so conspicuous in the fight at
Miskel's; it was now made ready for action. All of us were under cover,
with one man near the road to give notice of an approaching train. We
had not waited long before he gave the signal. I rode forward, and saw
it puffing along. Chapman rammed down a charge in his gun; and all
awaited the event with breathless interest. I was in fear every moment
of a patrol coming on the road who might give the alarm and stop the
train. Fortunately, none came. The engineer, not suspecting danger, was
driving at full speed, when suddenly the locomotive glided from the
track. The infantry guard fired a volley, which did no injury to us
except killing a horse. In an instant, a shell from Chapman's gun went
crashing through the cars. They all jumped off and took to their heels
through the pines. In the stampede, they did not take time to count our
number. If they had stood their ground, they could have easily driven
us away. Another shell was sent through the boiler of the engine. The
infernal noise of the escaping steam increased the panic among the
fugitives. There were several bales of hay on the train that were set
on fire. The whole was soon in flames. One car was loaded with sutlers'
goods, which the men did not permit to be entirely consumed by the
fire. There was also a number of fresh shad; and each man secured one
of these. The blockade of the Potomac had for a long time deprived us
of that luxury. The United States mail bags were tied to the carriage
of the howitzer; and we started to retrace our steps.

I have been criticised a good deal at the North for capturing trains on
railroads used for military purposes. To justify myself, it is not
necessary for me to use the _tu quoque_ argument, and retort that
my adversaries did the same whenever they could; for the plain reason
that I was simply exercising a belligerent right. There was nobody but
soldiers on this train; but, if there had been women and children, too,
it would have been all the same to me. Those who travel on a road
running through a military district must accept the risk of the
accidents of war. It does not hurt people any more to be killed in a
railroad wreck than having their heads knocked off by a cannon shot.
One of the most effective ways of impeding the march of an army is by
cutting off its supplies; and this is just as legitimate as to attack
it in line of battle. Jomini says that the irregular warfare of the
Cossacks did more to destroy the French army on the expedition to
Moscow than the élite regiments of the Russian guard. After the peace,
all Europe hailed their hetman, Platoff, as the hero of the war, and
the corporation of London gave him a sword.

But to return to my story. I had penetrated the enemy's lines, and the
difficulty was now to get out. The sound of the cannon had given the
alarm. The long roll was beaten through all the infantry camps, and the
bugles sounded--"to horse." As I had never used a piece of artillery
before, it was not known that I had it. It was thought at first that
Stuart had come in behind them, and hence they advanced on me
cautiously. When I had got about a mile from the railroad I met a
regiment of New York cavalry (the 5th), in the road directly in front
of me. It had come up from the camp below at Kettle Run to cut us off.
We halted while Chapman unlimbered, and sent a shell at them, which,
fortunately, burst at the head of the column, and killed the horse of
the commanding officer. This created a stampede, and they scattered
before another shell could get to them. The way was now open, and we
went on by the horse lying with his accoutrements in the road. I made
Foster and a few others gallop forward, to produce the impression that
we were pursuing, but soon recalled them to the gun, as I was expecting
the enemy every moment in my rear. We were now girt with foes on every
side. It would, of course, have been easy to save ourselves by
scattering through the woods, but I was fighting on a point of honor.
I wanted to save the howitzer, or, if I had to lose it, I was
determined to exact all that it was worth in blood. After we got
about a mile further on, the regiment we had broken rallied, and with
reinforcements came on again in pursuit. Another shell was thrown at
them, and they fell back. We were just on the edge of a wood, and I
ordered Chapman to go forward with his gun at a gallop, while I
remained behind with six men as a rear-guard to cover the retreat.

Clouds of cavalry which had been attracted by the firing were now seen
in different directions, and the enemy once more moved toward us. With
less than 50 men I was confronting Deforest's brigade of cavalry. At
one time we had been entirely enveloped by them, but had broken through
their line. As the enemy came near we slowly withdrew. Their advance
guard of 12 or 15 men suddenly dashed upon us as we were retiring
through the woods. We wheeled and had a fierce hand-to-hand fight, in
which they were routed and driven back. Several of their dead and
wounded were left on the ground. I have before spoken of Capt. Hoskins,
an English officer, who had recently joined me. He was riding by my
side when the fight began. The tradition of chivalry inherited from the
ancient knights of using the sword in single combat still asserted its
dominion over him, but my other men had no more use for that antiquated
weapon than a coat of mail. They had discarded it as a useless
incumbrance. Hoskins was in the act of giving a thrust when he was
shot. In an instant after, his adversary fell before a deadly revolver.
Hoskins's wound was mortal. When the fight was over, he was taken to
the house of an Englishman near by, and lived a day or two. Thus died
as gallant a gentleman as ever pricked his steed over Palestine's
plains. He had passed without a scar through the fire of the Redan and
the Malakoff to fall in a petty skirmish in the American forests. I
could not stay by him, and I had no means of carrying him off. The
overwhelming numbers pressing upon us forced a retreat, and we had to
leave him by the roadside with his life-blood ebbing fast away. The
horse that I had presented to him disdained capture and followed us. I
gave it to Beattie. He was buried in his martial cloak at Greenwich
church, and now, like Lara,

    Sleeps not where his fathers sleep.

Seeing that no hope was left us but to save our honor and stand by the
gun, I sent Foster with an order to Chapman to halt and unlimber in
a narrow lane on a hill. The high fences on both sides were some
protection against a flank attack of cavalry. I knew we could hold the
position as long as the ammunition lasted for the gun. Some of the men
who had joined me, thinking that they were going on a picnic, had
already left to fry their shad and eat the confectioneries they had
got on the train. When I rode up to Chapman, he had his gun already
shotted. Mountjoy and Beattie were standing by it. Their faces beamed
with what the Romans called the _gaudia certaminis_, and they had
never looked so happy in their lives. As for myself, realizing the
desperate straits we were in, I wished I was somewhere else.

Sam Chapman and his brother William, who afterward became the
lieutenant-colonel of my battalion, had commanded the battery which,
under Longstreet's orders, had shattered Fitz John Porter's corps in
its assault on Jackson's line at Groveton heights. When the Federal
cavalry came in sight a couple of hundred yards off, he sent them a
shell that exploded in their ranks, and they fell back in confusion to
the woods. They re-formed and came again. If they had deployed as
foragers, we would have been driven away without inflicting much loss
on them. But they committed the error of charging up the road in a
solid column of fours, where every discharge from the gun raked them
with grape and canister. They made several successive onsets of this
kind, which Chapman repulsed. In turn, we would charge and drive them a
considerable distance, and then return to the gun. This was repeated
several times over ground strewn with their killed and wounded men and
horses. The damage done here to my side was that Bill Elzey had several
teeth knocked out by a bullet. They used their sabres, and we the
revolver. At last the supreme moment came. Chapman had rammed home his
last round of ammunition, and a heavy column was again advancing. I sat
on my horse just behind the gun: when they got within 50 yards, it
again belched with fire and knocked down a number of men and horses in
their front. They halted, and, at the same time, I ordered a charge,
and drove them down to the foot of the hill. I was riding a spirited
sorrel horse, who carried me with so much force that I could not hold
him up until I had gone some distance through their ranks. Charlie
McDonough followed me. As I passed by a big cavalryman he struck me a
blow with his sabre on the shoulder that nearly knocked me from my
seat. At the same instant my pistol flashed, and he reeled from his
saddle. McDonough and I were now hemmed in by high fences on both
sides; the Federal soldiers we had passed in the road, seeing that
nearly all my men had left the gun, which had ceased firing, made a
dash at it. Beattie managed to mount and get away. George Tuberville,
who acted as driver, went off at full speed, and saved his two horses
and limber-chest. Mountjoy, who was one of the bravest of the brave,
was captured at the gun, after he had fired his last cartridge.

The Rev. Sam Chapman had passed through so many fights unscathed that
the men had a superstition that he was as invulnerable as the son of
Thetis. His hour had come at last, and a bullet pierced the celestial
armor of the soldier-priest; but he fought with the rammer of his gun
as he fell. He lived to pay the debt he contracted that day. "For time,
at last, sets all things even." The victors now held the howitzer, and
barred the only way for my escape; but I held in my hand a more potent
talisman than Douglas threw into the Saracen ranks. My faith in the
power of a six-shooter was as strong as the Crusader's was in the heart
of the Bruce. I darted by the men who were now in possession of the
gun, and received no hurt, except getting my face badly scratched by
the limb of a tree as I passed. I had left Hoskins, Chapman, and
Mountjoy in the hands of the enemy. Their shouts of triumph now rang
through the woods; but no further pursuit was made. With a single
companion, I stopped at a farmhouse, washed the blood from my face,
and started back to get ready for another raid.

In a week I had rallied, and was down in Fairfax stirring up the
outposts. Stuart sent me a message, that I might sell another gun for
the same price. I had effected more than I had hoped. When the news of
my rout reached headquarters at Fairfax Court House, a flaming despatch
(which is printed in Moore's "Rebellion Record") was sent North,
announcing that "within two or three days Mosby had lost 150 men, and
Gen. Stahel will not let him rest until his band is exterminated." As I
had all the time acted on the offensive, it was easy enough for me to
get rest by keeping quiet. As I had never had one-half that number of
men, of course I could not have lost them. As long as I could keep a
thousand men watching on the defensive for every one that I had with
me, it was a small matter who got the best in a fight.

The Count of Paris, who was a staff officer in the Union army, in his
history of the war, mentions the two affairs on the railroad, and says:
"In Washington itself, Gen. Heintzelman was in command, who, beside the
depots, the regiments under instruction, and the artillery in the
forts, had under his control several thousand infantry ready to take
the field, and Stahel's division of cavalry, numbering 6000 horses,
whose only task was to pursue Mosby and the few hundred partisans led
by this daring chief." If Pleasanton had had those 6000 sabres with him
a few days after this, on June 9, 1863, in his great cavalry combat
with Stuart at Brandy Station, the result might have been different.
Hooker had asked for them, but had been refused, on the ground that
they could not be spared from the defence of Washington.[3]

          [3] [_Telegram._]

          HEADQUARTERS, May 30, 1863.


          We had a hard fight with Mosby this morning, who had
          artillery,--the same which was used to destroy the train of
          cars. We whipped him like the devil, and took his artillery.
          My forces are still pursuing him. A more full report will
          follow, hoping the General will be satisfied with this

          JUL. STAHEL, _Major-General_.

          Major-General Stahel reports of the above affair, that "The
          train for Bealeton had just passed up, and believing it to
          have been attacked, he [Col. Mann] immediately went with a
          detachment of the 5th N.Y. Cavalry, under command of Capt. A.
          H. Hasbrouck, a detachment of the 1st Vermont, under command
          of Lieut.-Col. Preston, and a small detachment of the 7th
          Michigan. The detachment of the 5th New York was sent
          directly across the country, in order to intercept the
          Rebels, while the balance of the command went directly to the
          scene of action. The advance of the 5th New York, led by
          Lieut. Elmer Barker, came up with the enemy first, and found
          them with the howitzer posted on a hill, with the cavalry
          drawn up in line in the rear to support it. Lieut. Barker,
          with his small detachment of about 25 men, dashed up the
          hill, and when within about 50 yards of the gun, received a
          charge of grape and canister, which killed three (3) and
          wounded seven (7) of our men, and several horses. The enemy
          then charged upon us, but were met with a stubborn resistance
          by the Lieutenant and his men, although the Lieutenant had
          received two grape-shots in his thigh. We were, however,
          overpowered and driven back a short distance. Just then Col.
          Preston of the 1st Vermont (Lieut. Hazleton, with companies H
          and C, being in advance) came up at a full charge upon their
          flank, and were received with a discharge from the howitzer
          of grape and canister. Our men pressed on, however, until
          they came to a hand-to-hand conflict, when the enemy
          gradually fell back. We took their howitzer, and they fled in
          every direction.... Our loss was four (4) killed, fifteen
          (15) wounded, the names of which please find enclosed. We
          also lost eleven (11) horses killed and several wounded."


    "Fight as thy fathers fought,
      Fall as thy fathers fell!
    Thy task is taught, thy shroud is wrought;--
      So--forward--and farewell!"--_Praed._

I now turned my attention once more to the troops guarding the line of
the Potomac and the defences of Washington. I was afraid that if I
continued my attacks on the railroad and in the vicinity of Hooker's
camps, the cavalry division of Stahel would be released from doing
guard duty, and sent to the front on the Rappahannock.[4] So on June 3,
only three days after I had been routed and my howitzer captured near
Greenwich, I collected thirty or forty men and started once more for
Fairfax. The cavalry down there had enjoyed a season of rest for
several weeks. We passed by Fryingpan at night, and slept in a thicket
of pines on the Ox road. John Underwood was sent forward with a squad
of men to fire on the pickets or patrols. I knew that this would draw
out a force in search of us the next morning. Just as I had got in a
doze I heard several shots. The men burst out laughing, and said,
"That's John Underwood." I had directed him to remain concealed by the
roadside to watch for any scouting party of the enemy that might come
out in the morning. About sunrise I received a message from him that a
body of about fifty cavalry had gone up the road. In an instant we were
all in our saddles; but just then Underwood galloped up and informed me
that another body had passed on.

          [4] In his testimony before the committee on the conduct of
          the war, Gen. Hooker says, vol. I, page 162:

          "I may here state that while at Fairfax Court House my
          cavalry was reinforced by that of Maj.-Gen. Stahel. The
          latter numbered 6100 sabres, and had been engaged in
          picketing a line from Occoquan River to Goose Creek. This
          line was concentric to, and a portion of it within, the line
          held by my army. The force opposed to them was Mosby's
          guerillas, numbering about 200 [not over thirty men]; and, if
          the reports of the newspapers were to be believed, this whole
          party was killed two or three times during the winter. From
          the time I took command of the army of the Potomac there was
          no evidence that any force of the enemy, other than that
          above named, was within 100 miles of Washington City; and
          yet, the planks on the chain bridge were taken up at night
          during the greater part of the winter and spring. It was this
          cavalry force, it will be remembered, I had occasion to ask
          for, that my cavalry might be strengthened when it was
          numerically too weak to cope with the superior numbers of the

"How many do you think there are?"

"About 100," was his answer.

"All the better," I said; "we are in their rear. It is just as easy to
whip 100 as 50. Forward, trot!"

The party of the first part got to Fryingpan and halted; we overtook
the second party just as we got in sight of the first. They were
utterly confounded at seeing a lot of men coming up on their rear,
shooting and shouting. They hadn't time to wheel around to meet an
attack from behind, but broke and ran away. They were driven pell-mell
in a cloud of dust upon the body of cavalry that had halted at
Fryingpan, and in turn they communicated the panic to their friends. I
came very near being caught here in the same trap that I got in at
Warrenton Junction, but managed to get out without loss, beside
carrying off a number of prisoners and horses. Some of my men had
chased the fugitives a few hundred yards when they unexpectedly came on
a regiment of Federal cavalry drawn up in line just over a hill. I have
since ascertained that it was Col. Gray of the 6th Michigan cavalry. He
had come out on another road, and hearing the firing at Fryingpan, had
formed to receive an attack. If he had followed the example of Major
Hammond with the 5th New York, at Warrenton Junction, and charged us
when we were in disorder and scattered over the field, that would in
all probability have been my last day as a partisan commander. As soon
as I heard of this third body of cavalry, which I had not seen, I drew
off my men as rapidly as possible, while Col. Gray was waiting to
receive us. He managed to catch Dr. Alexander, who was with me. I went
off home with my spoil, and it was announced in Washington that I had
once more been routed and driven away. A few days after that I caught a
Federal surgeon, and set him free on the condition that he would try to
secure the release of Alexander. He kept his pledge.

As I have before stated, I had two months before this time received
authority from the war department, through Gen. Lee, to raise a
command. A good many men had joined me, but a considerable number of
them had been captured at different times by raiding parties of the
enemy. As it was the third year of the war the soldier element in the
country had been pretty well exhausted by conscription, and I was
forbidden to receive recruits from this class subject to conscript
duty. It was, therefore, very difficult for me to get 60 eligible men,
which was the legal standard for organizing a company. By this time I
had about that number on my muster roll; but at least a third of them
were in prison, having been captured at various times by raiding
parties of the enemy. On June 10, 1863, my first company was organized
at Rector Crossroads, with James W. Foster as captain, Thomas Turner of
Maryland as 1st, William L. Hunter (now of California) as 2d, and
George Whitescomer as 3d lieutenant. In compliance with law, I had to
go through the form of an election. But I really appointed the
officers, and told the men to vote for them. This was my rule as long
as I had a command, and with two or three exceptions their conduct
vindicated my judgment. On the same day that the company was organized
I started for the Potomac, as it was my policy to keep up a state of
alarm about the capital. I had long meditated crossing the river, but
it was not fordable during the spring and winter season. This was but a
few weeks after the battle of Chancellorsville, and there was great
fear at the North of a Confederate invasion.

Gen. Lee[5] was then moving up the Rappahannock on his way to
Pennsylvania. I knew that if I only crossed over once, a small army
would be detached to protect the border. Information had reached me
that a squadron of Michigan cavalry was at Seneca; and I resolved to
attack it. My plan was to cross the river at night, capture the
patrols, and surprise the camp about daybreak.[6] Unfortunately, the
night was very dark; my guide missed the way, and we did not get over
the river until daybreak. I sent Alfred Glasscock, Joe Nelson, and
Trunnell ahead, who concealed themselves in the bushes on the canal
bank, and seized the patrol as it came along without giving any alarm.
When I reached the northern bank they were waiting for me. The same
party then went on up the towpath and captured a canal boat and some
mules; while I halted a short time to close up the command. When we got
near the bridge over the canal, we met another patrol, that fired and
fled. They pulled up the drawbridge behind them; and it took us some
minutes to replace it. This delay gave time to the cavalry in camp to
saddle up. Before we got in 200 yards of them they retreated rapidly.
After crossing a narrow bridge over Seneca Creek, they halted, and held
it against a few of my men, who had pursued them. They were armed with
carbines, and poured such a hot fire into the men that they started to
fall back. Just then I rode up. Some of them were carrying Glasscock
away, as he had been severely wounded.

          [5] The following correspondence between Gen. Pleasanton,
          chief of cavalry, and Gen. Ingalls, chief quartermaster of
          the army of the Potomac, which I recently found in the
          archives of the war department, shows the anxiety at that
          time to suppress my command. I had never heard of it before
          I saw it there. It is evident that somebody had hoaxed Gen.
          Pleasanton, as the whole negotiation was confined to himself
          and Gen. Ingalls. The fact that he had an unlimited amount
          of money placed at his disposal for buying me, and did not
          do it, is conclusive proof that there never had been a
          chance for it:--

            HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS, June 12, 1863.

            GEN. R. INGALLS, _Chief Quartermaster_:--Your despatch
            received. Ask the general how much of a bribe he can stand
            to get Mosby's services. There is a chance for him; and
            just now he could do valuable service in the way of
            information, as well as humbugging the enemy. There's no
            news. The rebels are like the boy the President tells
            about who stumped his toe and was too big to cry. Birney
            is up.

            A. PLEASANTON, _Brigadier-General_.

            June 12, 1863.

            GEN. PLEASANTON:--If you think your scheme can succeed
            in regard to Mosby, do not hesitate as to the matter of
            money. Use your own judgment, and do precisely what you
            think best for the public interest.

            ROBERT INGALLS,

          [6] MIDDLEBURG, VA., June 10, 1863.

          GENERAL:--I left our point of rendezvous yesterday for the
          purpose of making a night attack on two cavalry companies of
          the enemy on the Maryland shore. Had I succeeded in crossing
          the river at night, as I expected, I would have had no
          difficulty in capturing them; but, unfortunately, my guide
          mistook the road, and, instead of crossing by 11 o'clock at
          night, I did not get over until after daylight. The enemy
          (between 80 and 100 strong), being apprised of my movement,
          were formed to receive me. A charge was ordered, the shock
          of which the enemy could not resist; and they were driven
          several miles in confusion, with the loss of seven killed, a
          considerable number wounded, and 17 prisoners; also 20 odd
          horses or more. We burned their tents, stores, camp
          equipage, etc. I regret the loss of two brave officers
          killed--Capt. Brawner and Lieut. (George H.) Whitescarver. I
          also had one man wounded.

          Respectfully your obedient servant,
          JOHN S. MOSBY,
          _Major of Partisan Rangers_.

          MAJ.-GEN. J. E. B. STUART.



          Respectfully forwarded. In consideration of his brilliant
          services, I hope the President will promote Maj. Mosby.

          J. E. B. STUART,

After waiting a minute or two for my command to close up, we dashed
across the bridge and completely routed the cavalry on the other bank.
Frank Stringfellow rode by my side as I led the charge, but we had
hardly got over before George Whitescarver was ahead of us. The
Michigan men broke and fled, leaving behind 17 prisoners, 30 horses,
their colors, four dead and one wounded, beside all their camp equipage
and stores. They had formed a line of a crescent shape not more than 50
yards from the bridge, on which they poured a converging fire, but not
one of us was touched in going over. I had not gone a hundred yards in
pursuit when Foster, who was riding by me, said, as we passed a dead
man in the road: "There is one of our boys." He was so begrimed with
dust that I did not recognize him. It was Whitescarver. The men were
soon recalled. I was apprehensive that the enemy's cavalry on the river
above might come down the towpath and intercept us. Then there was the
danger, if I tarried too long in Maryland, that Maj.-Gen. Stahel would
be ready to catch me on the Virginia shore, for his camps were only a
few miles below. I was accompanied that day by Capt. Brawner, who
commanded an independent company, and had come over to Fauquier a few
days before. With two or three men he had kept on after I had abandoned
the pursuit, and was killed.[7] I returned to Middleburg unmolested,
wrote a despatch to Stuart, and forwarded my prisoners. The next day I
sent him the captured guidon, by Maj. White of his staff. The raid had
all the effect I desired in arousing the fears of the enemy for the
safety of the North.

          [7] One who was in command at Poolesville, Md., a few miles
          from Seneca, reports: "About 250 of the enemy's cavalry
          crossed the Potomac near Muddy Branch at daybreak. The enemy
          dashed rapidly up the canal, driving in the patrols, and
          attacked Capt. Deane's company (I) 6th Michigan cavalry, on
          duty at Seneca locks. Capt. Deane fell back toward
          Poolesville, forming line three times, and only retreating
          when nearly surrounded. The enemy followed to within three
          miles of Poolesville, when he rapidly retired, destroying
          the camp of Capt. Deane, and recrossing the river at the
          point where he had crossed. Our loss is four men killed, 16
          men missing, one man wounded."

Col. Thompson of the California cavalry battalion, who accompanied Col.
Lowell in pursuit of me through Leesburg, recently informed me that
when they got to Fairfax on their return they found Gen. Stahel's
division prepared for battle. Stahel had sent out scouting parties over
the country. I had no positive knowledge of the intention of Gen. Lee
to invade the North, but all signs pointed that way. First came the
news of Milroy's rout by Ewell at Winchester. As I was looking for
Stuart every day, I made no more raids that week, but held my men
ready to do any work that he wanted. On June 16 Stuart crossed the
Rappahannock, and bivouacked near Piedmont station in Fauquier that
night. On the same day I went with a few men on a scout in the
neighborhood of Thoroughfare, to find out which way Hooker was moving.
I saw from the smoke of his camp fires that he was retiring on
Washington as Lee advanced toward the Potomac.

Early on the morning of the 17th I visited Stuart's headquarters at
Miss Kitty Shacklett's house. As he was mounted on a very indifferent
horse, I gave him a fine sorrel that one of my men had recently
captured from a Michigan lieutenant. I told him what I knew about the
position of the enemy, and that I was ready to perform any service he
wanted. The cavalry moved on to Middleburg, and I met him there again
in the afternoon. There were 30 or 40 of my men with me. He had never
seen them before, and made some jocular remarks about them as they
passed. We had a short conference, and he approved of the expedition on
which I was going across the Potomac. There had been so many alarms
along the enemy's lines that it was difficult for them to reinforce any
one point more strongly than it had been; and I knew that they would
now rely on the presence of Hooker's troops for the protection of
Maryland. I did not think they were expecting me to come back to
Seneca. My idea was to create a diversion in favor of Gen. Lee, who was
marching into the Shenandoah valley, and also to keep him informed of
the movement of the enemy. I bade Stuart "good by," and told him that
he would soon hear from me. He had sent Wickham's brigade down to
picket the gap in the Bull Run mountain at Aldie. His duty was to
observe the enemy, and mask the movements of the Confederate army. My
command turned off three miles above there, and moved again toward
Seneca. It was a very hot day, and we had stopped a while to rest under
the shade of some trees, and refresh ourselves with buttermilk at the
house of a farmer named Gulick. Presently we heard artillery firing
over toward Aldie, which indicated a collision of the enemy's cavalry
with ours. In an instant every man was mounted. From a commanding
position on the mountain, which we reached in a few minutes, I could
see clouds of dust rising on every road, which showed that Hooker was
marching for the Potomac. After going a little farther, we captured a
number of prisoners, and I immediately sent a despatch to Stuart, with
the information I got from them. I could not now get to Seneca without
passing through Hooker's infantry, so I concluded to go down on the
Little River turnpike, and operate on the line of communication between
Pleasanton's cavalry and the general headquarters. I knew I could
gather some prizes there, and probably keep Stahel's cavalry from
coming to the front, by giving them plenty to do in their rear. So we
kept ourselves concealed, like Robin Hood and his merry men, in the
green wood until night, and then sallied out in quest of game. After
it was dark, we moved to a point about four miles below Aldie, where
Pleasanton and Rosser had been fighting, and on the pike leading to
Fairfax Court House, near which Hooker's headquarters were established
that evening. My command was now inside of Hooker's lines, and
environed on all sides by the camps of his different corps. Along the
pike a continuous stream of troops, with all the impedimenta of war,
poured along. Taking three men with me--Joe Nelson, Charlie Hall, and
Norman Smith--I rode out into the column of Union troops as they passed
along. As it was dark, they had no suspicion who we were, although we
were all dressed in full Confederate uniform. A man by the name of
Birch lived in a house near the roadside, and I discovered three horses
standing at his front gate, with a man holding them by their bridles. I
was sure that he was an orderly, and that they were officers' horses.
We rode up, and asked him to whom they belonged. He replied that they
were Maj. Stirling's and Capt. Fisher's, and that they were just from
Gen. Hooker's headquarters. I then called him up to me and took him by
the collar, and leaning down, whispered in his ear: "You are my
prisoner. My name is Mosby." The man, who was an Irishman, understood
me to say that he was "Mosby," and indignantly replied, "You are a d--d
liar. I am as good a Union man as you are." Just then in the starlight
he saw the gleam of a pistol, and had nothing further to say.

In a few minutes the officers came out of the house. I saluted them,
and asked which way they were going and where they were from. As we
seemed to be in such friendly relations with their orderly, they never
suspected our hostile character, and promptly answered that they were
from Gen. Hooker's headquarters, and were carrying despatches to
Pleasanton. Capt. Fisher was his chief signal officer, going up to
establish a signal station at Snicker's gap--if he could get there. By
this time my men had dismounted, and as I was talking to Maj. Stirling,
Joe Nelson walked up, and, politely extending his hand, asked for his
pistol. Charlie Hall, not to be outdone in courtesy by Joe, proposed to
relieve Capt. Fisher of his. They both misunderstood what Hall and
Nelson meant, and offered to shake hands with them. In an instant the
barrels of four glittering revolvers informed them that death was their
doom if they refused to be prisoners. Resistance was useless and they
surrendered. All now mounted quickly and we left the pike. As we
started, both officers burst out laughing. I asked them what they were
laughing at. They said they had laughed so much about their people
being gobbled up by me that they were now enjoying the joke being
turned on themselves. They were then informed that I knew that they had
despatches for Pleasanton, and that they could relieve me of performing
a disagreeable duty by handing them over. Maj. Stirling promptly
complied. I then went to a farmer's house near by, got a light, and
read them.[8] They contained just such information as Gen. Lee wanted,
and were the "open sesame" to Hooker's army. I wrote a note to Stuart
to go with the despatches, which were sent with the prisoners under
charge of Norman Smith. He got to Stuart's headquarters about daybreak.
The skies were red that night in every direction with the light of the
fires of the Union army. We slept soundly within a mile of Birney's
corps at Gum Spring, and in the morning began operations on the pike.
We soon got as many fish in our nets as we could haul out, and then
returned into the Confederate lines. Stuart was delighted to see me;
he had also learned from the captured despatches that a cavalry
reconnoissance would be sent to Warrenton the next day. Notice of it
was sent to Gen. Hampton, who met and repulsed it.

          [8] Stuart's report of the Gettysburg campaign says: "Maj.
          Mosby, with his usual daring, penetrated the enemy's lines
          and caught a staff officer of Gen. Hooker--bearer of
          despatches to Gen. Pleasanton, commanding United States
          cavalry near Aldie. These despatches disclosed the fact that
          Hooker was looking to Aldie with solicitude, and that
          Pleasanton, with infantry and cavalry, occupied the place;
          and that a reconnoissance in force of cavalry was meditated
          toward Warrenton and Culpepper. I immediately despatched to
          Gen. Hampton, who was coming by way of Warrenton from the
          direction of Beverly ford, this intelligence, and directed
          him to meet this advance at Warrenton. The captured
          despatches also gave the entire number of divisions, from
          which we could estimate the approximate strength of the
          enemy's army. I therefore concluded in no event to attack
          with cavalry alone the enemy at Aldie.... Hampton met the
          enemy's advance toward Culpepper and Warrenton, and drove
          him back without difficulty--a heavy storm and night
          intervening to aid the enemy's retreat."

After a series of indecisive engagements, extending through several
days, Pleasanton, finally, on the 21st of June, supported by a force of
infantry, drove Stuart back to Ashby's Gap in the Blue Ridge. Having
effected the object of his reconnoissance, which was to ascertain the
position of the Confederate army that was then moving down the
Shenandoah Valley, Pleasanton retired on the same night to Aldie, where
the 5th Corps was posted, and did not again assume the offensive as
long as Hooker remained in Virginia. He stood on the defensive and
simply watched and waited. On the next day, Stuart re-established his
lines about Middleburg, with his headquarters at Rector's Crossroads,
where he kept up communication with Gen. Lee, who was at Berryville.
Hill and Longstreet were near there, and Ewell had gone into Maryland.
On the afternoon when Pleasanton followed the Confederate cavalry
through Upperville to the mountain, I was with my command on Dulony's
farm, about a mile from the pike, as he passed. I determined again to
strike at his rear. As we were passing Bull Run mountain by a narrow
path that night, one of my men, about the middle of the column, dropped
his hat, and stopped to pick it up. It was pitch dark; and, as those in
front of him knew nothing about it, they kept on. The men behind him
halted. This cut my column in two; and half of it wandered all night in
the woods, but never found me. We slept in a drenching rain on the top
of the mountain, and started early in the morning. As we were going
through Dr. Ewell's farm, I stopped to talk with him; but the men went
on. Presently, I saw them halt near a church in the woods; and one of
them beckoned to me. I galloped up, and saw a body of about thirty
cavalry drawn up not a hundred yards in front of us. I instantly
ordered a charge; and, just as we got upon them, they ran away, while a
heavy fire was poured into us by a company of infantry concealed in the
church. A negro had carried the news of our being on the mountain to
Gen. Meade, who had prepared this ambuscade for me. Three of my
men--Charlie Hall, Mountjoy, and Ballard--were wounded; the latter
losing a leg. The lieutenant commanding the Federal cavalry was killed.
I was not ten steps from the infantry when they fired the volley. We
fell back to the mountain; and, no doubt, Gen. Meade thought that I was
done for--at least for that day. After taking care of my wounded, I
started again for the Little River Pike, which we reached by flanking
Gen. Meade. Pretty soon we caught a train of twenty wagons, and
proceeded to unhitch the mules. I did not have more than one man to a
wagon. The guard to the train rallied, and recaptured some of the
animals, and two of my men; but we got away with most of them. That
night they were delivered to Stuart's quartermaster. This raid is a
fine illustration of the great results that may be achieved by a
partisan force co-operating with the movements of an army. My principal
aim in these operations was to get information for Stuart, and, by
harassing the communications of the Federal army, to neutralize with my
small command Stahel's three brigades of cavalry in Fairfax.[9]

          [9] Gen. Stahel, in a report to the secretary of war, says
          that on June 21 he received an order from Hooker's
          headquarters to make a reconnoissance in force to Warrenton
          and the upper Rappahannock. "In compliance with this order,"
          he says, "I started with my command for Warrenton and the
          upper Rappahannock. Just as I was about crossing the
          Rappahannock with two brigades,--one of my brigades being
          already across,--for the purpose of executing the above
          orders, and to break up Gen. Lee's communication with
          Richmond, and which could have been easily effected, as
          there were but very few troops, and Gen. Lee's rear
          consisting of their cavalry, with which Gen. Pleasanton was
          engaged in the upper part of the valley, received the
          following order from Hooker:

                "'JUNE 23.

                "'MAJ.-GEN. HANCOCK:--Direct Gen. Stahel to return
                without delay; to dispose his forces so as to catch
                the party inside our lines, if possible.'

            "Another despatch stated that the force was about 100; that
            they attacked one of our trains on the Aldie road.

            "It was with feelings of bitter regret and disappointment
            that I received this order, inasmuch as I was just crossing
            the Rappahannock with three brigades of cavalry and a
            battery of horse artillery, who were just fresh from camp,
            etc.... All of Lee's supplies had to pass up between the
            Rappahannock and Blue Ridge mountains or cross to the
            Shenandoah valley; and my force was sufficient to have
            destroyed his entire trains and to cut off Gen. Lee
            completely from his supplies.... I was compelled by this
            order to abandon my movement, and restrained from dealing
            so fatal a blow to the enemy, and return with my whole
            division to disperse about 100 guerillas who had escaped
            back out of our lines before I ever received the order to

It happened that on June 22--the very day we captured the wagon
train--Gen. Stahel, in obedience to Hooker's orders, had gone from
Fairfax with three cavalry brigades and a battery of artillery, on a
reconnoissance to the Rappahannock. On June 23, just as one of his
brigades had crossed over the river, and the other two were in the
act of crossing, he received an order from Gen. Hooker to return
immediately, and to dispose his force so as to catch the party inside
his lines that had captured his wagon train. We had got to Stuart's
headquarters with Hooker's mules before Stahel got the order. He did
not come there to search for them. If he had not been recalled, he
might have done much damage on Gen. Lee's line of communication, as it
was entirely uncovered. In fact, there was no Confederate force between
him and Richmond. When afterward, Gen. Hooker, before the committee on
the conduct of the war, criticised the authorities at Washington so
severely for keeping this large force to watch my small one, he had
forgotten that he had done the same thing himself.[10] In a letter to
Stuart, dated June 23, 1863, 5 P.M., Gen. Lee refers with some
uneasiness to this expedition of Stahel. He did not know at the time
that Stahel had gone back. In an interview I had with Stuart on my
return, we discussed the best route for him to go into Maryland. As I
knew all the roads, as well as the location of each corps of the enemy,
that were all wide apart, I thought he ought to go through an unguarded
gap of the Bull Run mountain, and, cutting his way right through the
middle of the Union army, cross the Potomac at Seneca.[11] It was the
shortest route he could go into Maryland, and there was a splendid
opportunity to destroy Hooker's transportation as he went along, and to
cut off communication between Washington and the North. The plan was at
that time perfectly practicable. Hooker was in a defensive attitude,
waiting the development of Lee's plans, and only a small portion of the
cavalry was necessary to be held in our front to observe the enemy and
report their movements to the commanding general. The plan was to leave
two brigades of cavalry about Middleburg to do this work, while Stuart,
with three brigades, should pass through Hooker's army into Maryland.
The brigades selected to be left behind were those of Jones and Beverly
H. Robertson, under command of the latter, who happened to be the
ranking officer. They numbered over 3000 men, and exceeded in strength
the three that Stuart took with him.

          [10] [_Telegram._]

          GAINSVILLE, 11 A.M., June 23, 1863.

          STAHEL TO BUTTERFIELD, _Chief of Staff to Hooker_: Your
          order to return without delay received through Maj.-Gen.
          Hancock, after midnight; made arrangements at once, and my
          advance arrived here from Warrenton this morning at 8
          o'clock.... In accordance with your order, I shall scout the
          whole country, from Bull Run mountain toward Fairfax Court
          House, and have ordered the rest of my command and my train
          to Fairfax, where I shall report personally to you.

          [11] It now appears from their correspondence that Stuart,
          Longstreet, and Gen. Lee had already been discussing the
          feasibility of his going this route.

As Hancock's corps was holding Hopewell and Thoroughfare gaps, the road
that Stuart determined to go was through Glasscock's gap (a few miles
south of Thoroughfare) via Haymarket, through Loudoun to Seneca ford on
the Potomac. The part assigned to me was to cross the Bull Run at night
by the bridle path I had so frequently travelled, and, uniting with
Stuart near Gum Spring in Loudoun, take command of his advance guard.
Hooker's headquarters were still at Fairfax station, with his army
spread out like a fan over Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax
counties, his left being at Thoroughfare, his right at Leesburg, with
his centre at Aldie, and Pleasanton's cavalry in front of it. Stuart's
plan, of course, contemplated his crossing of the river in advance of
Hooker or Lee, and opening communication with Ewell as soon as he was
over. During our interview Gen. Hampton and Fitz Lee came into the
room, and soon afterward Stuart started a courier off to Gen. Lee. I
have been informed by one of his staff that he rode over to Berryville
that day to have a personal interview with the commanding general.
Before we parted, he told me that Gen. Lee was very apprehensive that
Hooker would steal a march and get into Maryland ahead of him, and
asked me to go and find out if any portion of his army was crossing the
river. Although I had been almost continuously in the saddle for three
days and nights, I agreed to return inside of Hooker's lines. With only
two men I crossed the Bull Run again that night, and early the next
morning was riding in full Confederate uniform through the Union army.

I soon sent Stuart a despatch that I was certain Hooker's army was not
in motion. Proceeding some distance down the pike with my single
companion, we had stopped to talk with a citizen, when four lieutenants
belonging to the 3d corps, that was camped near by, walked up to us.
There was a drizzling rain, and we had waterproofs thrown over our
shoulders. As they were in full view of their camps, they had no
suspicion of danger and were without arms. After talking with them for
some minutes, they were stunned by a demand for their surrender. I sent
them back under guard of one man, with another despatch to Stuart. I
then rode on alone down into Fairfax, where I met some of my old
acquaintances, who thought when they first saw me that it was my ghost.

Having learned all about the situation of Hooker's army, I started
back. I stopped at the house of John I. Coleman to inquire the shortest
way to the pike. It was the first time he ever saw me, and, although I
showed him my gray uniform and star, he thought I was trying to play a
Yankee trick on him, and refused to tell me anything. While we were
talking, I heard a noise behind me. Turning around, I saw two mounted
men approaching us. When within about fifty yards, they stopped, and
began picking cherries from a tree. I drew my pistol, but kept it under
my gum cloth, and rode up to them. They never suspected that I was an
enemy. I asked them where they were from; they answered that they were
on duty with Reynolds' corps that was camped near by at Guilford. They
had no arms; so, of course, had to surrender. When Coleman saw this
affair, he was more convinced than ever that I was a Yankee dressed up
in gray. I had to get to the pike the best way I could. So I tied the
heads of my prisoners' horses together with their halters, to keep them
from running away, and went on.

It was near sunset when I came in sight of the pike, about four miles
below Aldie. There was a wagon train a mile or so in length passing on
the road, with a strong cavalry guard, that was carrying supplies to
the troops above. I was anxious to get to Stuart that night, and knew
that if I waited for the train to pass, it would be dark, and I could
not find the mountain path. So I drew my pistol, held it under cover,
and told my prisoners that if they spoke a word they would be dead men.
I then rode, with them by my side, through a gap in the fence into the
pike, right among the Union cavalry. We could not cross over at that
point, as the fence on the other side of the road was too high for our
horses to leap. We went along for 200 yards, with my prisoners, through
the wagon train and cavalry escort, until we got to a road leading away
from the pike. Here we turned off. The gum cloth I had over my
shoulders to protect me from the rain, as it did not cover one-third of
my body, did not conceal the uniform I wore. I had ridden through the
ranks of a column of Union cavalry in broad daylight, with two
prisoners, and my elbow had actually struck against one as I passed.
In doing so I had acted on the maxim of Danton--_Audace, toujours
audace_. Finding that I could not reach the mountain before night,
and fearing to go to sleep in the woods alone with my prisoners, I took
their paroles and sent them back to their friends. Of course, I kept
their horses. Early the next morning I was again at Stuart's

          [12] Stuart's report says: "... I resumed my own position
          now, at Rector's cross roads, and being in constant
          communication with the commanding general, had scouts busily
          employed watching and reporting the enemy's movements, and
          reporting the same to the commanding general. In this
          difficult search the fearless and indefatigable Maj. Mosby
          was particularly active and efficient. His information was
          always accurate and reliable."


Stuart had now received his final instructions from General Lee,
authorizing him to move into Maryland, around the rear of the enemy
and between him and Washington. He was likewise instructed to do them
all the damage he could on his way. With his transportation destroyed
and communications broken, Hooker would be seriously embarrassed in
pursuing General Lee, or probably forced to fall back for supplies, or
to defend the capital against this demonstration. In the meantime,
while Hooker was thus delayed, the Confederates would have been
levying contributions on the farmers in Pennsylvania. His original
plan, which was bold in conception and perfectly practicable in
execution, was thwarted by an event which he could not control. It was
obvious now that Hooker would not _initiate_ any movement, but would
confine himself to covering the capital and observing his adversary.
It was equally plain that when the Confederate army made a move west
of the Blue Ridge, Hooker would make a corresponding one on the east.
It was, therefore, all important for the success of Stuart's movement
that the _status quo_ of the two armies should be preserved until he
could get through Hooker's army to the river, when it would be too
late for Hooker to take any step to defeat it. The distance was not
more than twenty miles to the Potomac from the point where he would
enter Hooker's lines; and this could be got over between sunrise and
sundown, as he intended to march in three parallel columns. He knew
the country well, and the position of each corps; and it would have
been easy enough for him to flank them. Before Pleasanton could have
got ready to follow the blazing meteor, it would have been out of
sight. The three brigades that were to accompany Stuart were quietly
withdrawn from Pleasanton's front on the evening of June 24, and
marched in a southerly direction to their rendezvous at Salem. Those
of Jones and Robertson were put in the position they had held about
Middleburg, and, of course, were charged with the ordinary duty of
cavalry on a post of observation. As Gen. Stuart says in his report,
"_Robertson's and Jones's brigades, under command of the former, were
left in observation of the enemy, on the usual front (about
Middleburg), with full instructions as to following of the enemy, in
case of withdrawal, and joining our main army_." An order to a cavalry
officer to _observe_ an enemy, of course implies that he is to report
what he sees; otherwise, there is no use in his observing. Stuart left
behind a force of over 3000 cavalry, which was amply sufficient for
every purpose. By daybreak, on the morning of the 25th, his column
debouched through Glassock's Gap, in the Bull Run, and proceeded
towards Haymarket. At the same time I started across by the route I
had been travelling for a week, to connect with him at the appointed
place. We had stopped at a spring on the mountain side to make our
breakfast on some sutlers' stores that had been saved from our
captives. Two men had been sent forward on a picket; but they had
scarcely got a hundred yards before a volley was fired; and the
bullets whistled all around us. We sprang upon our horses; but, as the
men did not return, we knew that they must have been killed or
captured. General Meade, whose camps were near by, had prepared an
ambuscade a second time for me, but I had escaped. (I wonder if he
would have called this _bushwhacking_.) We made a _detour_ around
them, and hurried on to join Stuart; as we could hear his cannon about
Haymarket. It seems that when Stuart got there, he found the roads on
which he intended to march that day occupied by Hancock's corps, that
had broken up camp that morning, and was moving towards the Potomac.
When I got to the Little River Pike, about eight miles below Aldie,
which was to be our point of junction, instead of meeting him we
struck the head of Hancock's column. His divisions were marching on
every road. I spent the day and night riding about among them, and
with great difficulty extricated myself from the dilemma in which I
was placed. I could not find out where Stuart was, nor he where I was;
for Hancock was between us. So I retraced my steps and went on to
Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah Valley, passing General
Robertson's command, that was quietly resting in Ashby's and Snicker's
Gaps, in the Blue Ridge, after the enemy retired on the 26th.
Pleasanton that day had moved by his flank, across General Robertson's
front, to Leesburg, to cover the crossing of Hooker's army. Why he
should have halted and remained idle three days in the gaps of the
Blue Ridge in Virginia after both armies had marched into Pennsylvania
is a mystery that has never been satisfactorily explained. If there
were any sound military reasons for his staying there _three_ days,
there were equally as sound ones for his not leaving at all. His
proper position was on General Lee's flank, next to the enemy, in
order to protect his rear and to keep him informed of their movement.

If General Robertson had then in obedience to General Lee's and
Stuart's instructions, promptly followed the enemy along the base of
South Mountain through Boonesboro, the Confederate cavalry might easily
have reached Gettysburg in advance of the Federal troops. In this
event, there would not have been the accidental collision of armies.
General Lee would have fought a defensive battle, and Gettysburg might
have been to Southern hearts something more than "a glorious field of
grief." Even as it was, Stuart's movement around his rear had so
confused General Meade, that his army was more scattered than ours,
and two of his corps in the first day's fight, were caught _in
delicto_ and crushed. He was looking for Lee on the Susquehanna,
when in fact he was concentrating on Gettysburg.

On account of Hancock's unexpected movement, Stuart had been compelled
to make a wider circuit than he had intended, and did not cross the
Potomac until the night of the twenty-seventh, the day after Hooker
got over. He thence moved northerly towards the Susquehanna, to put
himself on Ewell's flank in accordance with the instructions of
General Lee. But owing to the derangement of his plans by the advance
of the Union army, without General Robertson having given him notice
of it, Ewell had been recalled, and Stuart did not join the army until
July the second, at Gettysburg, when the battle was raging. But
Robertson's command had not even then come up. This movement of
Stuart's around the rear of Hooker's army has been condemned by
General Long, the military secretary and biographer of General Lee,
as having been undertaken either "from misapprehension of his
instructions, or love of the éclat of a bold raid" (which, of course,
implies disobedience of orders);[13] and General Longstreet says that
as he was leaving the Blue Ridge, he instructed Stuart to follow him
down the Valley, and cross the Potomac at Shepherdstown, but that
Stuart replied that he had discretionary powers from General Lee where
to cross the Potomac.

          [13] In the "Memoirs of General Lee," p. 271, General Long
          says: "Previous to the passage of the Potomac, General
          Stuart was instructed to make the movements of the cavalry
          correspond with those of the Federal army, so that he might
          be in position to observe and report all important
          information. In the performance of this duty Stuart had
          never failed, and probably his great confidence in him made
          Lee less specific in his instructions than he would
          otherwise have been. But on this occasion either from the
          misapprehension of instructions or the love of the éclat of
          a bold raid, Stuart, instead of maintaining his appropriate
          position between the armies, placed himself on the right
          flank of the enemy, where his communication with Lee was
          effectually severed. This greatly embarrassed the movements
          of General Lee, and eventually forced him to an engagement
          under disadvantageous circumstances."

          In the Century Magazine, General Longstreet, in his article
          on Gettysburg, says: "When Hill with his troops and
          well-supplied trains had passed my rear, I was ordered to
          withdraw from the Blue Ridge, pass over to the west of the
          Shenandoah and to follow the movements of the other troops,
          only to cross the Potomac at Williamsport. I ordered Gen.
          Stuart, whom I considered under my command, to occupy the
          gaps with a part of his cavalry and to follow with his main
          force on my right, to cross the Potomac at Shepherdstown,
          and move on my right flank. Upon giving him this order, he
          informed me that he had authority from Gen. Lee to occupy
          the gaps with a part of his cavalry, and to follow the
          Federal army with the remainder. At the same time he
          expressed his purpose of crossing the river east of the Blue
          Ridge and trying to make way around the right of the Federal
          army; so I moved my troops independent of the cavalry,
          following my orders, crossed at Williamsport, come up with
          A. P. Hill in Maryland, and we moved on thence to
          Chambersburg."... "On the 30th of June we turned our faces
          toward our enemy and marched upon Gettysburg. The third
          corp, under Hill, moved out first, and my command followed.
          We then found ourselves in a very unusual condition: we were
          almost in the immediate presence of the enemy with our
          cavalry gone. Stuart was undertaking another wild ride
          around the Federal army. We knew nothing of Meade's
          movements further than the report my scout had made. We did
          not know, except by surmises, when or where to expect to
          find Meade, nor whether he was lying in wait or advancing."
          Gen. Longstreet will find it difficult to reconcile what he
          now says were his orders to the cavalry with his letter to
          Stuart, or the following one to Gen. Lee:

              HEADQUARTERS, June 22, 1863, 7.30 P.M.

              GEN. R. E. LEE,
              _Comdg., &c._

              GENERAL:--Yours of 4 O'C. this afternoon is rec'd. I
              have forwarded your letters to Gen. Stuart with the
              suggestion that he pass _by the enemy's rear_, if
              he thinks that he may get through. We have nothing of
              the enemy to-day.

              Most respectfully,
              J. LONGSTREET,
              _Lt.-Genl., Comdg._

          So it appears that it was Gen. Longstreet who suggested to
          Stuart the idea of "another wild ride around the Federal

When this charge was made against Stuart, both the critics were
viewing his movement in the light of the disaster to our arms at
Gettysburg, and it was more agreeable to put the blame of it on a dead
man than a living one. General Long, who had access to the Confederate
archives, may plead the blindness with which he is afflicted as an
excuse for his error, and I have no doubt that General Longstreet has
forgotten that his own letter to Stuart contradicts his statement.

Gen. Lee made two reports of this campaign; one written in July, 1863,
a few weeks after the battle; and a more detailed one in January,
1864. There is a slight color of truth in the imputation cast upon
Stuart that Gen. Lee intended to censure him in his report. But this
is owing to a false interpretation given to it by persons who have
construed a single sentence literally, and not in connection with
others that qualify and explain it.[14] Gen. Lee does say: "It was
expected that as soon as the Federal army should cross the Potomac,
_Gen. Stuart_ would give notice of its movements, and nothing
having been heard from him since our entrance into Maryland, it was
inferred that the enemy had not yet left Virginia. Orders were
therefore issued to move on Harrisburg." Now if all that Gen. Lee
says in his report about Stuart's cavalry is read, together _as
a whole_, it is apparent that in the sentence above quoted, he
uses _Stuart's_ name not in a personal sense, but descriptive of his
cavalry corps, for in another place he says that Stuart had been
directed to divide his cavalry, leaving a portion to watch the
enemy in front of the mountain passes in Virginia, and "with the
_remainder_ to cross into Maryland and place himself on the right
of Gen. Ewell," who was marching on Harrisburg.[15]

          [14] General Lee says: "In the meantime, the progress of
          Ewell, who was already in Maryland with Jenkin's cavalry,
          advanced into Pennsylvania as far as Chambersburg, rendered
          it necessary that the rest of the army should be within
          supporting distance, and Hill having reached the Valley,
          Longstreet was withdrawn to the west side of the Shenandoah,
          and the two corps encamped near Berryville.

          "General Stuart was directed to hold the mountain-passes
          with part of his command _as long as the enemy remained
          south of the Potomac_, and with the _remainder_ to cross
          into Maryland and place himself on the right of General
          Ewell. Upon the suggestion of the former officer, that he
          could damage the enemy and delay his passage of the river by
          getting in his rear, he was authorized to do so, and it was
          left to his discretion whether to enter Maryland east or
          west of the Blue Ridge; but he was instructed to lose no
          time in placing his command on the right of our column as
          soon as he perceived the enemy moving northward.

                     *      *      *      *      *

          "The expedition of General Early to York was designed in
          part to prepare for this undertaking, by breaking the
          railroad between Baltimore and Harrisburg, and seizing the
          bridge over the Susquehanna at Wrightsville.

                     *      *      *      *      *

          "The advance against Harrisburg was arrested by intelligence
          received from a scout on the night of the 28th, to the
          effect that the army of General Hooker had crossed the
          Potomac and was approaching the mountains. In the absence of
          the cavalry it was impossible to ascertain his intentions;
          but to deter him from advancing farther west and
          intercepting our communications with Virginia, it was
          determined to concentrate the army east of the mountains.

                     *      *      *      *      *

          "The movement of the army preceding the battle of Gettysburg
          had been much embarrassed by the absence of the cavalry. As
          soon as it was known that the enemy had crossed into
          Maryland, orders were sent to the brigades of [B. H.]
          Robertson and [Wm. E.] Jones, which had been left to guard
          the passes of the Blue Ridge, to rejoin the army _without
          delay_, and it was expected that General Stuart, with the
          _remainder_ of his command, would soon arrive. In the
          exercise of the discretion given him when Longstreet and
          Hill marched into Maryland, General Stuart determined to
          pass around the rear of the Federal army, with three
          brigades, and cross the Potomac between it and Washington,
          believing that by that route he would be able to place
          himself on our right flank in time to keep us properly
          advised of the enemy's movements. He marched from Salem on
          the night of June 24th, intending to pass west of
          Centreville, but found the enemy's forces so distributed as
          to render that route impracticable. Adhering to his original
          plan, he was forced to make a wide detour through Buckland
          and Brentsville, and crossed the Occoquan at Wolf Run Shoals
          on the morning of the 27th. Continuing his march through
          Fairfax Court House and Drainesville, he arrived at the
          Potomac below the mouth of Seneca Creek in the evening. He
          found the river much swollen by the recent rains, but after
          great exertion gained the Maryland shore, before midnight,
          with his whole command. He now ascertained that the whole
          Federal army, which he had discovered to be drawing towards
          the Potomac, had crossed the day before, and was moving
          towards Fredericktown, thus interposing itself between him
          and our forces.

                     *      *      *      *      *

          "Robertson's and Jones's brigades arrived on July 3d, and
          were stationed upon our right flank. The severe loss
          sustained by the army, and the reduction of its ammunition,
          rendered another attempt to dislodge the enemy inadvisable,
          and it was therefore determined upon to withdraw."

          [15] Stuart has been criticised for carrying into our lines
          a train of one hundred and twenty-five wagons, which he
          captured in Maryland, with supplies for Hooker, on account
          of the delay it produced in joining Gen. Lee. But the
          expedition has been condemned, not as an independent raid,
          but because it is said that it deprived Gen. Lee of his
          cavalry, which ought to have given him notice of Hooker's
          advance into Pennsylvania. But as Gen. Lee actually received
          notice of it on the very night that Stuart crossed the
          Potomac, it is hard to see what harm was done by taking the
          wagons with him. And I have shown that Stuart left with Gen.
          Lee sufficient cavalry to do the work of guarding his flank
          and observing the enemy.

Clearly Gen. Lee did not intend to involve himself in the
contradiction of saying that he expected Stuart _personally_ to
perform at the same time the double duty of watching Hooker along the
Potomac, and guarding Ewell's flank on the Susquehanna.[16] Gen. Lee
in thus referring to Stuart was somewhat careless and inaccurate in
his language, as he was when, in describing the battle of Gettysburg,
he said that Robertson's command _arrived_ on July 3d, when, in fact,
it never got nearer than Cashtown, some eight miles from the
battle-field. But Gen. Lee is explicit in saying, _in his report_,
that he gave Stuart full authority to make the movement around the
enemy's rear. Among the Confederate archives in Washington, I have at
last found in Gen. Lee's confidential letter-book his final
instructions to Stuart, which have never been published, which must
set this controverted question at rest forever. At the time when they
were written, Gen. Lee's headquarters were at Berryville. They are
dated June 23, 1863, 5 P.M.

          [16] So far as keeping Gen. Lee informed of Hooker's
          movements is concerned, it was immaterial whether Stuart
          crossed east or west of the Ridge. In either event he would
          have been separated from Gen. Lee and unable to watch the
          line of the Potomac. Stuart was _ordered_ to take three
          brigades to the Susquehanna and to leave two behind him to
          watch Hooker. He was simply given discretion as to the point
          of crossing the Potomac. He is not responsible for the
          division of his command.

In them Gen. Lee presents to Stuart the alternative of crossing the
Potomac west of the Blue Ridge at Shepherdstown and moving over to
Frederick, Md., or, "_you will, however, be able to judge whether you
can pass around their army without hindrance, doing them all the
damage you can, and cross the river east of the mountains. In either
case, after crossing the river, you must move on and feel the right of
Ewell's troops, collecting information, provisions, etc._" In a letter
to Stuart dated June 22, he had said: "_If you find that he is moving
northward, and that two brigades can guard the Blue Ridge and take
care of your rear, you can move with the other three into Maryland
and take position on General Ewell's right, place yourself in
communication with him, guard his flank and keep him informed of the
enemy's movements, and collect all the supplies you can for the use
of the army. One column of General Ewell's army will probably move
towards the Susquehanna by the Emmetsburg route, another by
Chambersburg._" The intention of General Lee clearly was that Stuart
with one portion of the cavalry was to guard Ewell's flank and give
him information of the enemy. The other was to be left[17] behind, as
he says in his report, "to hold the mountain passes _as long as the
enemy remained south of the Potomac_." To suppose that Gen. Lee
intended them to remain there after the enemy had gone is to suppose
that he was not only unfit to command an army, but even a corporal's
guard. It is clear that he intended the two brigades under Robertson
to perform the same service for the column of Longstreet and Hill
(with whom he had his headquarters) as Stuart was to do for Ewell, who
was separated from him. When these two corps crossed the Potomac on
the 25th, _he knew_ that Stuart had not crossed _west_ of the Ridge in
advance of them. He would not have committed the blunder of marching
all his infantry into Pennsylvania knowing that all his cavalry was in
Virginia. He must, therefore, have expected for Stuart to cross the
Potomac on the same day to the _east_ of the Ridge; which he would
have done but for Hancock's movement. Some have contended that his
anxious inquiries for Stuart when he got to Chambersburg prove that he
did not know which way he had gone. They only show that he did not
know where Stuart was _at that time_. As Stuart had been directed to
open communication, as soon as he got into Pennsylvania, with Ewell,
and had not been able to do so on account of the Federal army getting
between them, Gen. Lee, not having heard from him, very naturally felt
a great deal of solicitude for his safety. If Gen. Lee had not thought
that he would cross the Potomac somewhere on the same day that he did,
he would have waited and sent for him. But again, Gen. Lee would not
assume the responsibility of authorizing Stuart to go around Hooker's
rear unless the movement had the approval of Gen. Longstreet, whose
headquarters were at Millwood, not far from Berryville. Gen. Lee's
instructions to Stuart were therefore sent through Longstreet. In a
letter to Stuart, Longstreet not only approves of Stuart's going into
Maryland around the rear of the enemy, but _opposes_ his going the
other route through the Shenandoah Valley, on the ground that it would
disclose their plans to the enemy. In concluding his letter he says:

    "_N.B.--I think that your passage of the Potomac by our rear at
    the present moment will in a measure disclose our plans. You had
    better not leave us, therefore, unless you can take the proposed
    route in rear of the enemy._" By "_our rear_" Longstreet meant
    through the Shenandoah Valley. The reasons he gave Stuart were
    conclusive in favor of the course he took. It was Gen. Lee's
    policy to detain Hooker as long as possible in Virginia. But if
    Stuart passed to the west of the Ridge and crossed the Potomac at
    Shepherdstown, he would be discovered by the signal stations of
    the enemy on Maryland heights. This would indicate, of course,
    that the infantry was to follow him. On the contrary, Hooker would
    interpret a movement around his rear as nothing more than a
    cavalry _raid_, and it would be a mask to conceal Lee's designs.
    It was no fault of Stuart's that he was unable to execute his

          [17] On June 22, 1863, 3.30 P.M. Gen. Lee, writing from
          Berryville, Va., to Ewell, who was then about Hagerstown,
          Md., says:

              "My letter of to-day, authorizing you to move toward the
              Susquehanna, I hope has reached you ere this. I have
              also directed Gen. Stuart, should the enemy have so far
              retired from his front as to permit of the departure of
              a portion of the cavalry, to march with three brigades
              across the Potomac, and place himself on your right and
              in communication with you, keep _you advised of the
              movements of the enemy_, and assist in collecting
              supplies for the army. I have not heard from him since."
              As Stuart was not ubiquitous, Gen. Lee must have relied
              on the cavalry left behind to do for him what he
              intended that Stuart should do for Ewell.

The Count of Paris says that it was impracticable from the first, and
differed in its condition from his other operations of this kind,
because they were undertaken while the armies were both stationary.
Now, at the time when Stuart resolved on going into Maryland by this
route, both armies were as stationary as when he rode around McClellan
on the Chickahominy; and Hooker was waiting for the Confederates to
move. But it could not be expected for Hooker to stand still while his
adversary was in motion. Now it so happened that the corps of
Longstreet and Hill moved from Berryville on June 24, towards the
Potomac, which they crossed the next day, Hill at Shepherdstown, and
Longstreet at Williamsport.[18] Their route of march was in plain view
of Maryland Heights, and the news was immediately telegraphed from
there by General Tyler. This set the whole of Hooker's army in motion,
on the morning of the 25th, for the Potomac. About the time,
therefore, that Stuart's column appeared on the eastern side of Bull
Run, on the morning of the 25th, Hancock broke up camp and started on
the same road that Stuart intended to march. Hancock was ahead of him,
and had the right of way. Gen. Longstreet had urged Stuart to go that
route, for fear that if he went through the Shenandoah Valley, the
plans of the commanding general would be disclosed to the enemy.

          [18] [_Telegram._]

          MARYLAND HEIGHTS, June 24, 1863.

          H. W. HALLECK, _General-in-Chief_:--

          Longstreet's corps, which camped last between Berryville and
          Charlestown, is to-day in motion and before 6 O.C. this
          morning commenced crossing by the ford one mile below
          Shepherdstown to Sharpsburg.

          GEN. TYLER, _Brigadier-General_.

I am unable to understand why he could not foresee that the march of
all the Confederate infantry in full view of the enemy would have the
same effect. If the corps of Longstreet and Hill had delayed a single
day in leaving Berryville, Stuart would have landed on the north bank
of the Potomac on the night of the 25th. Hooker would then have been
utterly confounded. Before he could have made up his mind what to do,
the Confederate cavalry would have been watering their horses in the
Susquehanna, and all the communications between Washington and the
North would have been broken. But now to return to the cavalry which
Stuart, under Gen. Lee's orders, had left in front of the enemy in
Virginia, as he says, "_to observe his movements, and follow him in
case of withdrawal_." Of course, this duty could not be discharged
without keeping in sight of the enemy. But instead of following, they
fell back in an opposite direction, and gave no information to Gen.
Lee and no trouble to the enemy. Gen. Lee says that on the night of
the 28th he heard through a scout that had come in that Hooker was
over the river, and was moving north. He is mistaken as to the date,
as there is a letter of his to Gen. Ewell, dated Chambersburg, June
28th, 7.30 A.M., which says, "I wrote you _last night_, stating that
Gen. Hooker was reported to have crossed the Potomac, and is advancing
by way of Middletown,--the head of his column being at that point in
Frederick County, Md." He directs Ewell to move to Gettysburg, which
had become to him what Quatre Bras was to Wellington, when he learned
that Napoleon was over the Sombre. In his report of the campaign, Gen.
Lee says that as soon as it was known that the enemy had crossed into
Maryland, orders were sent to Gen. Robertson to rejoin the army
"_without delay_." The very fact that Gen. Lee had to send back for
this cavalry shows that it was in the wrong place, and where he did
not intend it to be. In his instructions to Stuart, when leaving, he
had said: "_Give instructions to the commander of the brigades left
behind, to watch the flank and rear of the army, and (in event of the
enemy leaving their front) retire from the mountains west of the
Shenandoah, leaving sufficient pickets to guard the passes, bringing
everything clean along the valley, close upon the rear of the army._"
It is clear that the instructions to Gen. Robertson were to leave
Virginia when the enemy left; for how could he otherwise "_watch
the flank and rear_" of the Confederate army, and be "_close upon_"
it. Gen. Robertson[19] says that during the time he was lying in the
gaps of the Virginia mountains, after the enemy had crossed the
river, he was in daily communication by couriers with Gen. Lee's
headquarters.[20] Then so much the worse if he did not inform him that
the enemy had disappeared from his front. The inquiry is now naturally
suggested, _What did he communicate_?

          [19] See his letter of Dec. 27, 1877, in _Phila. Times_.

          [20] Stuart's report says: "I submitted to the commanding
          general the plan of leaving a brigade or so in my present
          front, and passing through Hopewell, or some other gap in
          the Bull Run Mountain, attain the enemy's rear, passing
          between his main body and Washington, cross into Maryland,
          joining our army north of the Potomac. The commanding
          general wrote to me, authorizing this move if I deemed it
          practicable, and also what instructions should be given the
          officer left in command of the two brigades left in front of
          the enemy. He also notified me that one column should move
          via Gettysburg and the other via Carlisle towards the
          Susquehanna, and directed me, after crossing, to proceed
          with all dispatch to join the right (Early) of the army in

                     *      *      *      *      *

          "Robertson's and Jones's brigades, under command of the
          former, were left in observation of the enemy on the usual
          front, _with full instructions as to following up the enemy
          in case of withdrawal and rejoining our main army_." This
          report was read by Gen. Lee and not one word of dissent by
          him is endorsed on it. It bears his initials in pencil,
          _R. E. L._, in his own handwriting.

Again he says, "He [Gen. Lee] was fully aware of my position and the
specific duty I was then performing." But what that specific duty was
no one knows. If Gen. Lee ordered him to remain there unemployed, then
he could blame no one but himself for the want of cavalry, and the
responsibility would rest on him.[21] But the fact that Gen. Lee sent
for him to join the army as soon as he heard that the enemy was
advancing north, is proof that he never intended him to stay in
Virginia after they had gone. Gen. Lee had issued orders from
Chambersburg for the concentration of his army at Gettysburg, and as
he says, sent back for Robertson's command to join the army _without
delay_. When the order was read, Gen. Robertson marched his two
brigades that night to Berryville, which is west of the mountain, on a
route almost parallel and in an opposite direction from Gettysburg,
which is east of it. On June 30, he continued his westerly and
circuitous march to Martinsburg, and on July 1, the day of the
battle, crossed the Potomac at Williamsport. If he had crossed at
Shepherdstown and gone to Boonesboro, he might easily have reached
Gettysburg after receiving Gen. Lee's order on the morning of July 1,
when it was held by Buford with only two brigades of cavalry. Gen.
Meade had sent off most of his cavalry in search of Stuart. It was
this diversion created by Stuart that saved Gen. Lee's communications
from attack. Buford was too weak to assume the offensive. On June 24,
when Gen. Lee moved with Longstreet and Hill down the Shenandoah
Valley, he left Gen. Robertson's command between him and the enemy.
On July 3, Gen. Robertson had so manoeuvred that _Gen. Lee had got
between him and the enemy_. Stuart had ridden around Gen. Hooker while
Gen. Robertson rode around Gen. Lee. _Sic itur ad astra._

          [21] Gen. Robertson says that when he received Gen. Lee's
          order he was at Ashby's Gap in the Blue Ridge in Fauquier
          County. Jones's brigade was twelve miles farther north, at
          Snicker's Gap in Loudoun, and joined him at Berryville.
          Stuart had placed them about fifteen miles to the front of
          the Gaps at Middleburg to watch the enemy. After he left,
          they retired to the mountain and rendered Gen. Lee no more
          service while there than if they had been west of the

          There are reports of their operations on file from all the
          brigade and regimental commanders of the cavalry in this
          campaign _except Gen. Robertson_, who, at his own request,
          was relieved of his command as soon as he returned to

Since the above was written, I have found in the archives of the war
office a copy of Stuart's orders to Gen. Robertson when leaving
Virginia; but he does not appear to have been in the least governed by
them. They confirm all I have said as to the duty required of the
cavalry that were left under his command. Through abundant caution
Stuart repeated them to Gen. Jones. He was instructed to watch the
enemy and report their movements through a line of relay couriers to
Gen. Longstreet; and when the enemy withdrew, to harass his rear and
impede his march, and follow on the right of our army. There seems to
have been no effort made to execute these orders; for both Gens. Lee
and Longstreet say that no intelligence having been received through
the cavalry of Hooker's crossing the Potomac, it was supposed that he
was still south of it; while Pleasanton says that he never had a
skirmish in retiring. The fact that Pleasanton's cavalry corps reached
Leesburg by noon of the 26th shows that they must have left Gen.
Robertson's front at Aldie early that morning. In a despatch[22] from
Leesburg to Hooker's headquarters dated June 26, 12.45 P.M., he
significantly says that all is _quiet_ towards the Blue Ridge, and
that only a few cavalry videttes were seen about Middleburg, and none
on the Snickersville Pike. If his flank and rear had been harassed,
all would not have been _quiet_. Again, Gen. Robertson was directed to
keep his command on the right of the army and in contact with the
enemy when they left, in order that he might keep the commanding
general informed of their movements.

          [22] [_Telegram._]

          LEESBURG, [VA.], 12.45 P.M.,
          June 26, 1863.

          _Headquarters, A.P._

          Have just arrived. One division is covering the flank from
          Aldie to this place by way of Mount Gilead. Three brigades
          of Second division are covering the three roads from Aldie
          and Gum Springs. _All quiet towards the Blue Ridge. Very
          few cavalry pickets seen near Middleburg this morning. None
          in the Snicker's Gap pike._

          A. PLEASANTON,

But when Gen. Lee had sent an order for him to come on and join the
army, as there could be no reason for his remaining any longer in
Virginia after the enemy had left, he actually followed on the _left_
and crossed the Potomac at Williamsport. Gen. Lee's _right_ flank was
thus left exposed to the enemy's cavalry, but fortunately they had
nearly all been sent in search of Stuart. If the pressure of the
column of three thousand cavalry with two batteries under Robertson
had been brought to bear on the flank of the Union army, its advance
into Pennsylvania would have been less rapid, and Meade could not have
spared two-thirds of his cavalry to send after Stuart to embarrass his
march. If the force of cavalry which Stuart left behind him had
promptly moved in obedience to his orders on the 26th to place itself
in its proper position on the right of the army, then it could easily
have occupied Gettysburg in advance of the enemy. It did nothing of
the kind, but quietly rested three days at Ashby's Gap to learn
through Gen. Lee where the enemy had gone. The professed historians of
the war make no mention of these facts. _Stuart is dead_: "O! for one
hour of Dundee."

    HEADQUARTERS, June, 22, 1863.

    _Commanding Cavalry_.

    GENERAL:--I have just received your note of 7.45 this morning to
    General Longstreet. I judge the efforts of the enemy yesterday
    were to arrest our progress and ascertain our whereabouts. Perhaps
    he is satisfied. Do you know where he is and what he is doing? I
    fear he will steal a march on us and get across the Potomac before
    we are aware. If you find that he is moving northward, and that
    two brigades can guard the Blue Ridge and take care of your rear,
    you can move with the other three into Maryland and take position
    on General Ewell's right, place yourself in communication with
    him, guard his flank, and keep him informed of the enemy's
    movements, and collect all the supplies you can for the use of
    the army. One column of General Ewell's army will probably move
    towards the Susquehanna by the Emmetsburg route, another by
    Chambersburg. Accounts from him last night state that there was no
    enemy west of Fredericktown. A cavalry force (about one hundred)
    guarded the Monocacy Bridge, which was barricaded. You will, of
    course, take charge of Jenkins' brigade and give him necessary
    instructions. All supplies taken in Maryland must be by authorized
    staff-officers, for their respective departments, by no one else.
    They will be paid for or receipts for the same given to the
    owners. I will send you a general order on this subject, which I
    wish you to see is strictly complied with.

    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE, _General_.

    HEADQUARTERS, MILLWOOD, June 22, 1863, 7 P.M.

    _Comdg Cavalry_.

    GENERAL:--Gen. Lee has inclosed to me this letter for you, to be
    forwarded to you, provided you can be spared from my front, and
    provided I think that you can move across the Potomac without
    disclosing our plans. He speaks of your leaving via Hopewell Gap
    and passing by the rear of the enemy. If you can get through by
    that route, I think that you will be less likely to indicate what
    our plans are, than if you should cross by passing to our rear. I
    forward the letter of instructions with these suggestions.

    Please advise me of the condition of affairs before you leave, and
    order Genl. Hampton--whom I suppose you will leave here in
    command--to report to me at Millwood either by letter or in
    person, as may be most agreeable to him.

    Most respectfully,


    N.B. I think that your passage of the Potomac by our rear at the
    present moment will, in a measure, disclose our plans. You had
    better not leave us, therefore, unless you can take the proposed
    route in rear of the enemy.


    June 23, 1863, 5 P.M.

    _Commanding Cavalry_.

    GENERAL:--Your notes of 9 and 10.30 A.M. to-day have just been
    received. As regards the purchase of tobacco for your men,
    supposing that Confederate money not be taken, I am willing for
    your commissaries or quartermasters to purchase this tobacco and
    let the men get it from them; but I can have nothing seized by the

    If General Hooker's army remains inactive, you can leave two
    brigades to watch him and withdraw with the three others; but
    should he not appear to be moving northward, I think you had
    better withdraw this side of the mountain to-morrow night, cross
    at Shepherdstown next day and move over to Fredericktown.

    You will, however, be able to judge whether you can pass around
    their army without hindrance, doing them all the damage you can,
    and cross the river east of the mountains. In either case, after
    crossing the river, you must move on and feel the right of Ewell's
    troops, collecting information, provisions, etc.

    Give instructions to the commander of the brigades left behind, to
    watch the flank and rear of the army and (in event of the enemy
    leaving their front) retire from the mountains west of the
    Shenandoah, leaving sufficient pickets to guard the passes, and
    bringing everything clean along the Valley, closing upon the rear
    of the army.

    As regards the movements of the two brigades of the enemy moving
    towards Warrenton, the commander of the brigades to be left in the
    mountains must do what he can to counteract them; but I think the
    sooner you cross into Maryland, after to-morrow, the better.

    The movements of Ewell's corps are as stated in my former letter.
    Hill's first division will reach the Potomac to-day, and Longstreet
    will follow to-morrow.

    Be watchful and circumspect in all your movements.

    I am, very respectfully and truly yours,

    R. E. LEE,


    June 24, 1863.

    BRIG.-GEN'L B. H. ROBERTSON, _Com'dg Cavalry_:

    GENERAL:--Your own and Gen'l Jones's brigades will cover the front
    of Ashby's and Snicker's Gaps; yourself, as senior officer, being
    in command.

    Your object will be to watch the enemy, deceive him as to our
    designs, and harass his rear if you find he is retiring. Be always
    on the alert, let nothing escape your observation, and miss no
    opportunity which offers to damage the enemy.

    After the enemy has moved beyond your reach, leave sufficient
    pickets in the mountains, and withdraw to the west side of the
    Shenandoah, and place a strong and reliable picket to watch the
    enemy at Harper's Ferry, cross the Potomac, and follow the army,
    keeping on its right and rear.

    As long as the enemy remains in your front in force, unless
    otherwise ordered by Gen'l R. E. Lee, Lt.-Gen'l Longstreet, or
    myself, hold the gaps with a line of pickets reaching across the
    Shenandoah by Charlestown to the Potomac.

    If, in the contingency mentioned, you withdraw, sweep the valley
    clear of what pertains to the army, and cross the Potomac at the
    different points crossed by it.

    You will instruct General Jones from time to time as the movements
    progress or events may require, and report anything of importance
    to Lieut.-Gen'l Longstreet, with whose position you will communicate
    by relays through Charlestown.

    I send instructions for Gen'l Jones which please read. Avail
    yourself of every means in your power to increase the efficiency
    of your command, and keep it up to the highest number possible.
    Particular attention will be paid to shoeing horses, and to
    marching off of the turnpikes.

    In case of an advance of the enemy, you will offer such resistance
    as will be justifiable to check him and discover his intentions;
    and, if possible, you will prevent him from gaining possession of
    the gaps.

    In case of a move by the enemy upon Warrenton, you will counteract
    it as much as you can compatible with previous instructions.

    You will have with the two brigades two batteries of horse

    Very respectfully your obl. servt.

    J. E. B. STUART,
    _Major Gen'l Com'dg._

    Do not change your present line of pickets until daylight
    to-morrow morning unless compelled to do so.


Soon after the outbreak of war in the spring of 1861 the First
Regiment of Virginia Cavalry was organized with J. E. B. Stuart as
colonel. He was then just twenty-eight years of age, a native of
Virginia and a graduate of West Point. As lieutenant of cavalry he had
had some experience in Indian warfare in the West in which he had been
wounded; and in the raid of John Brown on the United States arsenal at
Harper's Ferry had acted as aide to Colonel (afterwards General)
Robert E. Lee.

The First Virginia Cavalry was attached to the command of General
Joseph E. Johnston in the Shenandoah valley and assigned to the duty
of watching Patterson, who had crossed the Potomac and was threatening
the Southern army, then at Winchester. I was a private in a company of
cavalry called the Washington Mounted Rifles, which was commanded by
Capt. William E. Jones, an officer who some years before had retired
from the United States army, and gave the company the name of his old
regiment. Jones was a graduate of West Point and had been a comrade of
Stonewall Jackson's while there. He has often entertained me in his
tent at night with anecdotes of that eccentric genius. No man in the
South was better qualified to mould the wild element he controlled
into soldiers. His authority was exercised mildly but firmly, and to
the lessons of duty and obedience he taught me I acknowledge that I am
largely indebted for whatever success I may afterwards have had as a

I first saw Stuart in the month of July, 1861, at a village called
Bunker Hill on the pike leading from Winchester to Martinsburg, where
Patterson was camped. His regiment was stationed there to observe the
movements of the Union army. His personal appearance bore the stamp of
his military character, the fire, the dash, the energy and physical
endurance that seemed able to defy all natural laws. Simultaneously
with the movement of McDowell against Beauregard, began Patterson's
demonstration to keep Johnston at Winchester. It was, however, too
feeble to have any effect except to neutralize his own forces. The
plan of the Southern generals was to avoid a battle in the valley and
concentrate their armies at Manassas. The duty was assigned to
Stuart's cavalry of masking the march of Johnston to Manassas and at
the same time watching Patterson. General Scott had ordered him to
feel the enemy strongly and not to allow him to escape to Manassas to
reinforce Beauregard. Patterson replied in the most confident tone
that he was holding Johnston.

After the battle had been won by the Confederates, in reply to Scott's
criticism upon him for not having engaged them, Patterson comforted
him with the assurance that if he had done so, Scott would have had to
mourn the defeat of two armies instead of one. The records show that
at that time Patterson had about 18,000 men and Johnston about 10,000.

On the 15th of July, Patterson advanced and drove us with artillery
from our camp at Bunker Hill. Stuart had none to reply with. All of us
thought a battle at Winchester was imminent. Patterson had one
regiment of the regular besides some volunteer cavalry from
Philadelphia, but made no use of them. He never sent his cavalry
outside his infantry lines, and their only service was to add to the
pomp and circumstance of war on reviews and parades. He stayed one day
at Bunker Hill, and then, thinking he had done enough in driving us
away, turned off squarely to the left and marched down to Charlestown.
He had not been in twelve miles of our army, and this was the way he
executed General Scott's order to feel it strongly.

Stuart still hung so close on his flanks that he occasionally let a
shell drop among us. As soon as the movement to Charlestown was
developed, Johnston received intelligence of it through Stuart. He saw
then that Patterson did not intend an attack, and got ready to join
Beauregard. The Union general went into camp at Charlestown while the
Confederate folded his tent like the Arab and quietly stole away.
Stuart spread a curtain of cavalry between the opposing armies which
so effectually concealed the movement of Johnston, that Patterson
never suspected it until it had been accomplished. The telegraphic
correspondence at that time between Generals Scott and Patterson now
reads like an extract from the transactions of the Pickwick Club.

On July 13th, Scott telegraphs to Patterson: "Make demonstrations
to detain Johnston in the valley." July 14th, Patterson replies:
"Will advance to-morrow. Unless I can rout shall be careful not to
set him in full retreat toward Strasburg." He seemed to be afraid
of frightening Johnston so much that he would run away. Again, Scott
telegraphs to Patterson: "Do not let the enemy amuse and delay you
with a small force in front whilst he reinforces the junction with his
main body." This shows that General Scott, who was in Washington, had
the sagacity to discern what we were likely to do.

On July 18th, General Scott says to him: "I have been certainly
expecting you to beat the enemy. If not, to hear that you had felt
him strongly, or, at least, had occupied him by threats, and
demonstrations." At that time Patterson was twenty miles distant from
Johnston and never got any closer. This was all the feeling he did. On
the same day Patterson replies: "The enemy has stolen no march on me.
I have kept him actively employed, and by threats and reconnoissances
in force caused him to be reinforced." At that time, Johnston was
marching to Manassas, and Stuart's cavalry were watching the smoke as
it curled from the Union camps at Charlestown.

Again, on July 18th, in order to make General Scott feel perfectly
secure, Patterson tells him: "I have succeeded, in accordance with the
wishes of the General-in-Chief, in keeping Johnston's force at
Winchester. A reconnoissance in force on Tuesday caused him to be
largely reinforced from Strasburg." And on July 21st, when the
junction of the two armies had been effected, and the great battle was
raging at Manassas, he telegraphs to Scott: "Johnston left Millwood
yesterday to operate on McDowell's right and to turn through Loudoun
on me."

As Patterson was haunted by the idea that Johnston was after him,
although he had marched in an opposite direction, he concluded to
retreat to Harper's Ferry. The success of Johnston's strategy in
eluding Patterson and cheating him into the belief that he was still
in the valley, is due to the vigilance of Stuart and his activity and
skill in the management of cavalry. The Northern General never
discovered how badly he had been fooled until the day of the battle,
when he was too far away to give any assistance. But Stuart was not
satisfied with the work he had done. After the infantry had been
transferred to the railroad east of the Blue Ridge, he left a single
company as a veil in front of Patterson and joined the army at
Manassas on the evening before the battle. We had been almost
continuously in the saddle for a week, and I have a vivid remembrance
of the faces of the men--bronzed with sun and dust from the long
march. The two armies were in such close contact that all knew there
would be a battle on the morrow. Patterson was safe in the valley.

When he was before the committee on the Conduct of the War to give his
reasons for not advancing on Johnston at Winchester, he filed a paper
containing the following statement: "Among the regiments there was one
of Kentucky riflemen armed with heavy bowie knives; they refused to
take more than one round of cartridges. They proposed to place
themselves in the bushes for assault." Of course, no prudent commander
would lead men where they would be disembowelled by an enemy hidden in
the bushes. Perhaps General Patterson was imitating the example of
Othello, and trying to captivate Congressmen, as the Moor did the ear
of Desdemona, with tales of

    The cannibals that do each other eat;
    The anthropophagi, and men whose heads
    Do grow beneath their shoulders.

On the night before the battle, the raw troops were excited by every
noise, and the picket firing was incessant. We slept soundly in our
bivouac in the pines, and early in the morning were awakened by the
reveille that called us to arms. As the sun rose, the rattle of
musketry began along Bull Run, and soon from one end of the line to
the other there was a continuous roar of small arms and artillery.

War loses a great deal of its romance after a soldier has seen his
first battle. I have a more vivid recollection of the first than the
last one I was in. It is a classical maxim that it is sweet and
becoming to die for one's country; but whoever has seen the horrors
of a battle-field feels that it is far sweeter to live for it. The
Confederate generals had expected a battle on our right; as a fact,
our left wing was turned, and the battle was mostly fought by
Johnston's troops, who, having come up the day before, had been held
in reserve. Stuart's regiment having just arrived, had not been sent
on the outposts, and hence is in no way responsible for the surprise.
In the crisis of the battle, when Jackson with his brigade was
standing like a stone wall against the advancing host, he called for
Stuart's cavalry to support him. Stuart sent one squadron to Jackson's
right, under the Major, who did nothing (I was with him), while with
six companies he came up on Jackson's left, just in time to charge and
rout the Ellsworth Zouaves. Their general, in his report, says that he
was never able to rally them during the fight.

This cavalry charge had an important effect upon the fortunes of the
day, as it delayed the enemy, and gave time for troops to come to the
relief of Jackson, who was then hard pressed by superior numbers.
Stuart afterward, with a battery of artillery, led the turning
movement that caused the rout, and associated the stream of Bull Run
with the most memorable panic in history. Shortly after the battle,
all the cavalry of the army was organized into a brigade, with Stuart
in command. Jones was also promoted to be colonel of the regiment, and
Fitz Lee became lieutenant-colonel. From this time until the army
evacuated Manassas, in the spring of 1862, the cavalry was almost
exclusively engaged in outpost duty. McClellan kept close to the
fortifications around Washington while he was organizing the army of
the Potomac, and his cavalry rarely ventured beyond his infantry
pickets. No field was open for brilliant exploits; but the discipline
and experience of a life on the outpost soon converted the Confederate
volunteers into veterans.

Without intending any disparagement, I may say that the habits and
education of Northern men had not been such as to adapt them readily
to the cavalry service, without a process of drilling; while, on the
contrary, the Southern youth, who, like the ancient Persians, had been
taught from his cradle "to ride, to shoot, and speak the truth,"
leaped into his saddle, almost a cavalryman from his birth. The
Cossacks, who came from their native wilds on the Don to break the
power of Napoleon, had no other training in war than the habits of
nomadic life; and in the same school were bred the Parthian horsemen
who drove to despair the legions of Crassus and Antony.

I must also say that the Confederate authorities made but slight use
of the advantage they enjoyed in the early periods of the war, for
creating a fine body of cavalry; and that little wisdom was shown in
the use of what they did have. It would have been far better military
policy, during the first winter of the war, to have saved the cavalry
as McClellan did, either to lead the advance or cover the retreat in
the spring campaign. It was largely consumed in work which the
infantry might have done, without imposing much additional hardships
on them, as the proportion of cavalry was so small. When the Southern
army retired, in March, 1862, three-fourths of the horses had been
broken down by the hard work of the winter, and the men had been
furloughed to go home for fresh ones. The Confederate government did
not furnish horses for the cavalry, but paid the men forty cents a day
for the use of them. This vicious policy was the source of continual
depletion of the cavalry. Stuart's old regiment,--the First Virginia
Cavalry,--of which I was adjutant, with at least 800 men on its
muster-rolls, did not have 150 for duty on the morning we broke up
winter quarters on Bull Run. If the cavalry brigade had been cantoned
on the border, in the rich counties of Fauquier and Loudoun, the ranks
would have been full, and their granaries would not have been left as
forage for the enemy. The Confederate army fell back leisurely from
the front of Washington, and rested some weeks on the Rappahannock,
waiting the development of McClellan's plans. Stuart's cavalry was the
rear-guard. Sumner pushed forward with a division along the Orange and
Alexandria railroad, to make a demonstration and cover McClellan's
operations in another direction. He rather overdid the thing. On
reaching our picket line on Cedar Run, he made a grand display by
deploying his whole force in an open field. I happened to be on the
picket line that day, and told Col. Jones that it was only a feint to
deceive us. We retired, and the enemy occupied our camping-ground that

The next morning Stuart was at Bealeton station; and our skirmishers
were engaged with the enemy, who was advancing towards the
Rappahannock. My own regiment had just taken position on the railroad,
when I rode up to Stuart, with whom I had become pretty well
acquainted. Since we had left the line of Bull Run, I had several
times returned on scouts for him. He said to me, "I want to find out
whether this is McClellan's army or only a feint." I replied, "I will
go and find out for you." I immediately started towards the rear of
the enemy's column with two or three men, and reached a point some
distance behind it about the time they were shelling our cavalry they
had driven over the river. I saw that the enemy was only making a
demonstration, and rode nearly all night to get back to Stuart. When I
got to the river, we came very near being shot by our own pickets, who
mistook us for the enemy. I found Stuart with Gen. Ewell, anxiously
waiting to hear from me, or for the enemy to cross the river.

I have not been so fortunate as to have a poet to do for me on this
occasion what Longfellow did for the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
There was a drizzling rain and a dense fog; it was impossible to see
what the enemy were doing. I remember Stuart's joy and surprise when I
told him that they were falling back from the river. In the rapture of
the moment he told me that I could get any reward I wanted for what I
had done. The only reward I asked was the opportunity to do the same
thing again.[23] In ten minutes the cavalry had crossed the river and
was capturing prisoners. Nothing had been left before us but a screen
of cavalry, which was quickly brushed away. It now became evident that
McClellan would move down the Potomac and operate against Richmond
from a new base and on another line. This was the first cavalry
reconnoissance that had ever been made to the rear of the enemy, and
was considered as something remarkable at that time; at a later period
they were very common. Soon after this, Stuart's cavalry was
transferred from the line of the Rappahannock with the rest of
Johnston's army, to confront McClellan on the Peninsula. I dined with
Gen. Lee at his headquarters, near Petersburg, about six weeks before
the surrender. He told me then that he had been opposed to Gen.
Johnston's withdrawing to the Peninsula, and had written to him while
he was on the Rapidan, advising him to move back towards the Potomac.
He thought that if he had done this, McClellan would have been
recalled to the defence of Washington. He further said that, instead
of falling back from Yorktown to Richmond, Gen. Johnston should have
made a stand with his whole army, instead of a part of it, on the
narrow isthmus at Williamsburg.

          [23] See Stuart's report to Gen. Johnston.

Just before we reached Williamsburg, news came of the passage of the
conscription law, which preserved all the regimental organizations as
they were. The men were held in the ranks, but allowed to elect their
company officers; and these in turn elected field officers. It is hard
to reconcile democracy with military principles; and, consequently,
many of the best officers were dropped. Such was the fate of my
colonel. The staff officers, not being elected, were supposed to hold
over without reappointment. I immediately handed my resignation as
adjutant to the new colonel,--Fitz Lee,--_who accepted it_.

The conscription law at first produced some dissatisfaction among the
men, as most of them had served twelve months without a furlough; but
this soon subsided. All acquiesced in what was regarded as imperious
necessity. The loss of our positions in the First Virginia Cavalry
resulted in a benefit both to Jones and myself. Through the influence
of Stonewall Jackson, Jones was made a brigadier-general, and soon
after the death of Ashby was given the command of his brigade. Stuart
invited me to come to his headquarters and act as a scout for him. In
this way I began my career as a partisan, which now, when I recall it
through the mist of years, seems as unreal as the lives of the

I wish it to be understood that a scout is not a spy who goes in
disguise, but a soldier in arms and uniform who reconnoitres either
inside or outside an enemy's line. Such a life is full of adventure,
excitement, and romance. Stuart was not only an educated, but a
heaven-born soldier, whose natural genius had not been stifled by red
tape and the narrow rules of the schools.

The history of the war furnishes no better type of the American
soldier; as a chief of cavalry he is without a peer. He cared little
for formulas, and knew when to follow and when to disregard
precedents. He was the first to see that the European methods of
employing cavalry were not adapted to the conditions of modern war.[24]
His inventive genius discovered new ways of making cavalry useful,
that had never been dreamed of by the regular professors of the
science. I will now give some illustrations of his originality and the
fertility of his resources. When McClellan was lying in the swamps of
the Chickahominy, the infantry lines of the two armies were so close
together that cavalry operations in their front were impracticable.
One morning, when Stuart's headquarters were near Richmond, he invited
me to breakfast with him, and at the table asked me to take two or
three men and find out whether McClellan was fortifying on the
Totopotomoy Creek. I had been inactive for some time, and this was
just the opportunity I wanted. I started, but was diverted from the
route I had been directed to go by there being a flag of truce on the
road. I did not want to return without accomplishing something, so I
turned north and made a wide detour by Hanover Court House. Although I
was then engaged in the business of breaking idols, I had not lost all
reverence for antiquity. I stopped a while to muse in the old brick
building where Patrick Henry made his first speech at the bar, and
pleaded the cause of the people against the parsons. In order to
understand the enterprise on which I was going, a geographical
description of the country and situation of the armies is necessary.
The battle of Fair Oaks or Seven Pines had been fought, and the army
of the Potomac was lying on the Peninsula between the James and
Pamunkey rivers, and astraddle of the Chickahominy, which meanders
between them and finally empties into the James. McClellan's right
wing rested on the Pamunkey, with his base at the White House and his
line of supply by the York River Railroad. His left extended to within
a few miles of the James. The Totopotomoy Creek flows into the
Pamunkey. I got down in the enemy's lines on the Totopotomoy and
ascertained that six or eight miles of McClellan's front was a mere
shroud of cavalry pickets that covered his line of communication with
his depot at the White House. Of course, as he had no infantry on his
right there would be no fortifications there. The idea immediately
occurred to me that here was a grand opportunity for Stuart to strike
a blow. It is now clear why General Lee wanted to get information
about the enemy's fortifying the Totopotomoy.

          [24] That infantry armed with repeating rifles and fixed
          ammunition would have destroyed the squadrons of Murat at
          Eylou and Mount Tabor before they ever got close enough to
          use their sabres.

About three weeks after that he called Jackson from the valley, who
struck McClellan on this very ground. I was chased away from there and
came out just behind a regiment of Union cavalry going on a scout.
They very little thought that I was coming back so soon. I hastened to
Stuart's headquarters to give him the information. Everybody there was
in high glee. News had just come of Jackson's victories over Fremont
and Shields: Cross Keyes and Port Republic had been inscribed on his
banners. It was a hot day in June, and Stuart was sitting under the
shade of a tree, and I lay down on the grass to tell him what I had
learned. After giving him the information, I remarked, that as the
cavalry was idle, he could find on the Pamunkey something for them to
do. A blow on this weak point would greatly alarm McClellan for the
safety of his supplies, and compel him to detach heavily from his
front to guard them. After I got through, he said to me, "Write down
what you have told me." I went to his adjutant's office and wrote it
down hurriedly; but, not attaching much importance to it, did not sign
the writing. When I brought the paper to Stuart he had his horse ready
to mount. He called my attention to the omission, and I went back and
signed it. He started off at a gallop with a single courier to General
Lee's headquarters. He returned that afternoon, and orders were
immediately issued for a part of the cavalry to get ready to march.

General Lee's instructions to Stuart, directing, or rather
authorizing, the expedition, are dated June 11, which shows how soon
he started after my return, which was on the 10th.[25] With about 1200
cavalry and two pieces of artillery, on the morning of June 12, Stuart
left Richmond, moving in a northerly direction, to create the
impression that he was going to reinforce Jackson. That night we
bivouacked within a few miles of Hanover Court House. During his
absence his adjutant was left in charge of his headquarters. I was
present when he started. The adjutant asked him how long he would be
gone. Stuart's answer was, "It may be for years, and it may be
forever." Taking leave of his staff had suggested the parting from
Erin and Kathleen Mavourneen.

          [25] Von Borcke, a Prussian on Stuart's staff, in his
          "Memoirs," says that he and Stuart rode alone at night five
          miles, inside the enemy's lines on the Chickahominy, to the
          house of an Irishman, which Stuart had appointed as a
          rendezvous to meet a spy. The spy not appearing, he says
          that he and Stuart waited for him till daylight, and then
          rode to his house, just as the reveille sounded in the
          Yankee camps, only 400 paces distant. Such rides, he says,
          were habitual with Stuart, and, of course, Von Borcke always
          went with him. He adds: "The object of this excursion soon
          appeared. Our cavalry force received orders to provide
          themselves with rations for three days, and on the 12th we
          commenced that ride round the army of McClellan which
          attracted so much attention even in Europe." The Baron
          Munchausen, who was a countryman of Von Borcke's, never
          invented a purer fiction. Tradition says that King Alfred
          went, disguised as a harper, into the court of the Danes; he
          was, however, acting as a spy, and did not go to meet one.
          There is not a soldier of the army of Northern Virginia who
          does not know that neither Stuart nor any other Confederate
          general ever did such a thing. Stuart employed scouts and
          spies to get information for him; but they reported to him
          at his headquarters; he never went either inside or outside
          the enemy's lines to meet them.

There were many surmises as to his destination; but I never doubted
for a moment where we were going. Early the next morning Stuart sent
me on in advance with a few men to Hanover Court House, and I then saw
that my idea of a raid on McClellan's lines was about to be realized.
When we got within a few hundred yards of the village, a squadron of
cavalry was discovered there, and I sent a man back to inform Stuart
of it, so that he might send a regiment round to cut off their
retreat. He ordered the First Virginia Cavalry to go; but the enemy,
suspecting that there was a stronger force than they could see,
withdrew too soon to be caught.

The column then pushed rapidly towards the camp of Union cavalry at
Old Church. At that place Captain Royall was stationed with two
squadrons of the 5th U.S. regular cavalry. There was a running fight
of several miles with the pickets, and finally we met Captain Royall,
who came out with his whole command to reinforce the outpost. He had
no suspicion of the number he was attacking, and as soon as he came in
sight, Stuart ordered the front squadron of the 9th Virginia cavalry
to charge. Royall was wounded and routed. On our side, Captain Latané
was killed. We could not stay to give him even the hasty burial that
the hero received who died on the ramparts of Corunna. This was left
for female hands to do. The scene has been preserved on canvas by a
Virginia artist. As Royall's command had been scattered, we soon had
possession of his camp, and were feasting on the good things we found
in it. Nearly everybody forgot--many never knew--the danger we were
in. A mile or so on our left was an impassable river--not more than
six miles to the right were McClellan's headquarters, with Fitz John
Porter's corps and the reserve division of cavalry camped near us.
Here was the turning-point of the expedition. Stuart was as jolly as
anybody; but his head was always level in critical moments--even in
the midst of fun. There was a short conference between him and the
Lees, who were the colonels of the two Virginia regiments. I was
sitting on my horse, buckling on a pistol I had just captured, within
a few feet of them and heard all that passed. Stuart was for pushing
on to the York River Railroad, which was still nine miles off. Lee, of
the 9th (son of General R. E. Lee), was in favor of it, but Fitz Lee
was opposed. Stuart had no idea of turning back, and determined to go
on and strike McClellan in his rear. In the conception and execution
of this bold enterprise he showed the genius and the intrepid spirit
that took the plunge of the Rubicon.

Just as he gave the command, "Forward!" he turned to me, and said,
"Mosby, I want you to ride some distance ahead." I replied: "Very
well. But you must give me a guide; I don't know the road." He then
ordered two cavalrymen who were familiar with the country to go with
me; and I started on towards Tunstall's station. I was on a slow
horse; and I remember that I had not gone very far before Stuart sent
one of his staff to tell me to go faster and increase the distance
between us. It was important that we should reach the railroad before
dark, or reinforcements could be sent there. So I went on with my two
men at a trot.[26]

          [26] Stuart's report contained recommendations of a number
          who had been with him for promotion. He said: "Captains
          W. D. Farley and J. S. Mosby, without commission, have
          established a claim for position which a grateful country
          will not, I trust, disregard. Their distinguished services
          run far back towards the beginning of the war, and present a
          shining record of daring and usefulness."

Stuart's biographer, without so intending, has made a statement which
if true would rob him of all the glory of the enterprise. He says that
after reaching Old Church, Stuart kept on because it was safer than to
go back by the route he had come. The road to Hanover Court House was
open; and it would not have been possible for the enemy to have closed
it against him for several hours. The fight with Royall was near his
camp, and did not last five minutes; it took only a few minutes to
destroy it. If he had intended to return by Hanover, he would have
left pickets behind him to keep the way open. But he did nothing of
the kind. He took no more account of his rear than Cortez did when he
burned his ships, and marched to the capital of the Aztec kings. The
route of the two squadrons of cavalry was, in itself, an insignificant
result as compared with the magnitude of the preparation. At this
point, he had simply broken through McClellan's picket line, but had
not gained his rear. To have returned after doing this and no more,
would have been very much like the labor of a mountain and the birth
of a mouse. The fight and capture of Royall's camp at Old Church
occurred about two o'clock P.M., on June 13. The nearest camps were
three or four miles off. Major Williams reports that he came on the
ground with 380 of the 6th cavalry at 3.30 P.M., about one hour after
the rear of Stuart's cavalry had passed on towards Tunstall's. This
one hour would of itself have been amply sufficient to allow Stuart's
return unmolested before the arrival of that force. It will hardly be
contended that 380 men of any cavalry the world ever saw could have
stopped Stuart with 1200 men and two pieces of artillery. The 5th U.S.
cavalry came on the ground about five o'clock; and Gen. Cook (who was
Stuart's father-in-law), with the rest of his cavalry division,
Warren's brigade of infantry, and a battery of artillery, reached
there after dark. It is very difficult, therefore, to see what there
was to prevent Stuart from returning if he had so desired. In all,
there were two brigades of cavalry, one of infantry, and a battery of
artillery sent in pursuit of him.

Gen. Emory, who led the advance, says that he followed on Stuart's
track, and reached Tunstall's at two o'clock that night, where he
found Gen. Reynolds, who had come up with a brigade of infantry on the
cars about twelve o'clock. Reynolds says that our rear guard had left
there about two hours before he arrived. At Tunstall's, Gen. Emory
says he lost Stuart's trail, and set every squadron he had to hunting
for it, and did not succeed in finding it until eight o'clock the next
morning. As Stuart had left Tunstall's on the plain country road on
which he had been marching all day, and on which Gen. Emory had
followed him, it seems strange that 1200 cavalry, with two pieces of
artillery, should have left no track behind them. Gen. Warren says
that "_the moon was shining brightly, making any kind of movement
for ourselves or the enemy as easy as in daylight_."

General Cook, with the rest of the cavalry, and infantry, and
artillery, arrived about 9 o'clock the next morning. General Emory
then moved forward in pursuit with infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
Warren says: "_It was impossible for the infantry to overtake him
[Stuart], and as the cavalry did not move without us, it was impossible
for them to overtake him._" And Fitz John Porter regrets, "_That
when General Cook did pursue he should have tied his legs with the
infantry command._" Perhaps General Cook was acting on the maxim
that recommends us to build a bridge of gold for a retreating foe. But
then it can hardly be said that Stuart was retreating. As there were
six cavalry regiments--including all the regulars--on our track, with
a battery of artillery, it is hard to see the use they had for
infantry, except as a brake to keep them from going too fast. The
pursuit was from beginning to end a comedy of errors. The infantry
could not have expected to overtake us, whereas, if we had attempted
to return by the same route we came, then they might have intercepted
us by remaining where they were.

Stuart was reduced to the alternative of returning home by the road
along the Pamunkey, or the one up James River. If he took the latter,
then a slight extension of McClellan's left flank would have barred
his way. It could hardly have been imagined that we were going down to
capture Fort Monroe, or that Stuart's cavalry were amphibious animals
that could cross the York and James rivers without pontoons. Only the
cavalry on McClellan's right was in the pursuit. He had an abundance
on his left to block our way, and they had twenty-four hours' notice
of our coming. Now to return to my narrative of Stuart's march. As I
was jogging along with my two companions, a mile or two ahead of the
column, I came upon a well-filled sutler's wagon at a cross-roads, of
which I took possession by right of discovery. At the same time, about
a mile off to my left, I could see the masts of several vessels riding
at anchor in the river. I sent one of the men back to tell Stuart to
hurry on. The sutler was too rich a prize to abandon, so I left the
other man in charge of him and his wagon and hurried on. Just as I
turned a bend of the road, I came plump upon another sutler, and a
cavalry vidette was by him. They were so shocked by the apparition
that they surrendered as quietly as the coon did to Captain Scott.
Tunstall's Station was now in full view a half a mile off. I was all
alone. Just then a bugle sounded. I saw about a squadron of cavalry
drawn up in line, near the railroad.[27] I knew that the head of our
column must be close by, and my horse was too tired to run, so I just
drew my sabre and waved it in the air. They knew from this that
support was near me. In a few seconds our advance guard under
Lieutenant Robbins appeared in sight, and the squadron in front of me
vanished from view. Robbins captured the depot with the guard without
firing a shot. Stuart soon rode up. Just then a train of cars came in
sight, and as we had no implements with which to pull up a rail, a
number of logs were put on the track. When the engineer got near us,
he saw that he was in a hornet's nest, and with a full head of steam
dashed on under a heavy fire, knocked the logs off the track, and
carried the news to the White House below. General Ingalls, who was in
command of the depot there, says that he had received a telegram from
General McClellan's headquarters, telling him of the attack on
Royall's camp and warning him of danger. As soon then as the telegraph
line was broken, which was about sunset on the 13th, it was notice to
McClellan that we were in his rear and on his line of communication.

          [27] 11th Pennsylvania.

There was now but one route by which we could return, and that was up
James River. Yet he made no signs of a movement to prevent it, and the
only evidence that he knew of our presence is a telegram to Stanton on
the next day--dated 11 A.M., June 14th, saying that a body of cavalry
had passed around his right and that he had sent cavalry in pursuit to
punish them. Before reaching Tunstall's, Stuart sent a squadron to
burn the transports in the river and a wagon train that was loading
from them. The small guard fled at the approach of our cavalry, while
the schooners and wagons disappeared in smoke. As some evidence of the
consternation produced by this sudden irruption, I will mention the
fact, that after we left Old Church, a sergeant with twenty-five men
of the United States regular cavalry followed on under a flag of truce
and surrendered to our _rear-guard_. They supposed they were cut off
and surrounded. The Jeff Davis legion was the rear-guard, and these
were the only enemies they saw.

The despatch to Stanton shows the bewildered state of McClellan's
mind. At the time he was writing it we were lying on the banks of the
Chickahominy, building a bridge to cross on. To have caught us, it was
not necessary to pursue at all; all that he had to do was to spread
his wings. We halted at Tunstall's long enough for the column to close
up. Our march was slow, the artillery horses had broken down, and we
were encumbered with a large number of prisoners on foot, and of
course we could march no faster than they did. After dark the column
moved down through New Kent towards the Chickahominy. On the road were
large encampments of army wagons. Many a sutler was ruined that night;
with sad hearts they fell into line with the prisoners, and saw their
wagons, with their contents, vanish in flames. The heavens were lurid
with the light reflected from the burning trains, and our track was as
brilliant as the tail of a comet.

The Count of Paris, who was on McClellan's staff, thus describes
Stuart's march: "But night had come, and the fires kindled by his hand
flashing above the forest were so many signals which drew the Federals
on his track." Now, the Count of Paris evidently means that the
glowing sky ought to have been a guide to the Federal generals as the
pillar of fire was to Moses. As a fact, the only pursuers we saw were
those who came after us to surrender under a flag of truce. Stuart
halted three hours at Baltimore Store, only five miles from
Tunstall's. At twelve o'clock he started again for a ford of the
Chickahominy, which was eight miles distant, and reached it about

That summer night was a carnival of fun I can never forget. Nobody
thought of danger or of sleep, when champagne bottles were bursting,
and Rhine wine was flowing in copious streams. All had perfect
confidence in their leader. In the riot among the sutlers' stores
"grim-visaged war had smoothed his wrinkled front," and Mars resigned
his sceptre to the jolly god. The discipline of soldiers for a while
gave way to the wild revelry of the crew of Comus. During all of this
time General Emory was a few miles off, at Tunstall's Station, hunting
our tracks in the sand with a lighted candle. Stuart had expected to
ford the Chickahominy; but when we got there, it was found overflowing
from the recent rains, and impassable. Up to this point our progress
had been as easy as the descent to Avernus; but now, to get over the
river, _hic labor_, _hic opus est_. He was fortunate in having two
guides, Christian and Frayser, who lived in the neighborhood, and knew
all the roads and fords on the river. Christian knew of a bridge, or
rather, where a bridge had been, about a mile below the ford, and the
column was immediately headed for it. But it had been destroyed, and
nothing was left but some of the piles standing in the water. He was
again fortunate in having two men, Burke and Hagan, who knew something
about bridge-building. Near by were the remains of an old warehouse,
out of which they built a bridge. It was marvellous with what rapidity
the structure grew; in a few hours it was finished--it seemed almost
by magic. It was not as good a bridge as Cæsar threw over the Rhine,
but it was good enough for our purpose. While the men were at work
upon it, Stuart was lying down on the bank of the stream, in the
gayest humor I ever saw him, laughing at the prank he had played on

As I was a believer in the Napoleonic maxim of making war support
war, I had foraged extensively during the night, and from the
sutlers' stores spread a feast that Epicurus might have envied.
During all the long hours that we lay on the bank of the river waiting
for the bridge, no enemy appeared in sight. That was a mystery nobody
could understand. There was some apprehension that McClellan was
allowing us to cross over in order to entrap us in the forks of
the Chickahominy. When, at last, about two o'clock, the cavalry,
artillery, prisoners and captured horses and mules were all over, and
fire had been set to the bridge, some of Rush's lancers came on a hill
and took a farewell look at us. They came, and saw, and went away,
taking as their only trophy a drunken Dutchman we had left on the
road. General Emory received news of the crossing eight miles off at
Baltimore Store. Our escape over the river was immediately reported to
him. In his official report, he says that we crossed the Chickahominy
at daylight and that we left faster than we came. Now, I am unable to
see the evidence of any particular haste in the march: in fact, it
seems to have been conducted very leisurely. About one o'clock
P.M., on the 13th, we captured Royall's camp at Old Church; about
sunset we reached Tunstall's, nine miles distant, and at daylight on
the 14th got to a point on the Chickahominy twelve miles from there,
where we stayed until noon. So if we had been pursued at the rate of a
mile an hour, we would have been overtaken.

But the danger was not over when we were over the Chickahominy. We
were still thirty-five miles from Richmond and in the rear of
McClellan's army, which was five or six miles above us. It was
necessary to pass through swamps where the horses sunk to their saddle
girths, and when we emerged from these, we had to go for twenty miles
on a road in full view of the enemy's gunboats on one side of us in
the James River, and McClellan's army within a few miles on the other.
Nothing would have been easier than for him to have thrown a division
of infantry as well as cavalry across our path. Then nothing could
have saved us except such a miracle as destroyed Pharaoh and his host.
Stuart, apprehending a movement on McClellan's left, had sent a
messenger early in the morning to General Lee requesting him to make a
diversion in his favor. But we were out of danger before he had time
to do it. After getting through the swamp the command halted in
Charles City for several hours to give rest to the men and horses.
Stuart then turned over the command to Fitz Lee, as we were then in
comparative safety, and with two men rode on to General Lee's
headquarters, which he reached about daybreak the next morning. During
the night march I was in advance of the column, but saw nothing in the
path except occasionally a negro who would dart across it going into
the Union lines. Early in the morning, just as I got in sight of
Richmond, I met Stuart returning to the command. Although he had been
in the saddle two days and nights without sleep, he was as gay as a
lark and showed no signs of weariness. He had a right to be proud;
for he had performed a feat that to this day has no parallel in the
annals of war. I said to him, "This will make you a major-general." He
said, "No, I don't think I can be a major-general until we have 10,000
cavalry." But in six weeks he had that rank.

This expedition, in which Stuart had ridden around McClellan in a
circle of a radius of ten miles, created almost as much astonishment
in Richmond and even in Europe as if he had dropped from the clouds,
and made him the hero of the army. It had an electric effect on the
_morale_ of the Confederate troops and excited their enthusiasm to a
high pitch. Always after that the sight of Stuart on the field was

    A blast of that dread horn
    On Fontarabian echoes borne.

McClellan attempts in his report to belittle it, by saying that in
this affair Stuart's cavalry did nothing but gain a little _éclat_;
but with more truth it might be said that by it he lost a good deal.
His staff officer, the Count of Paris, says, in reference to these
operations of our cavalry: "They had, in point of fact, created a
great commotion, shaken the confidence of the North in McClellan, and
made the first experiment in those great cavalry expeditions which
subsequently played so novel and so important a part during the war."

At midnight, on June 14, at the very hour when we were marching along
his left flank, McClellan telegraphed to Stanton, "All quiet in every
direction; the stampede of last night has passed away." In his
telegram six hours before, he had said that we ran away from an
infantry force, at Tunstall's, that he had sent after us. The fact was
that we left that place long before the infantry arrived there, and
never heard of it until long after we left. Gen. Reynolds says he
never saw us. The stampede that McClellan talks about was not in
_our_ ranks. The Count of Paris again says: "As soon as he [Stuart]
was known to be at Tunstall's, McClellan had divined his purpose, and
despatched Averill to intercept him."

I have made a diligent examination of the archives of the war, but
have been unable to find any authority for this statement. The
despatches of the general-in-chief, the corps, division, brigade, and
regimental commanders, in reference to this _raid_, have all been
published, besides the report of Col. Clitz, who was ordered to
investigate the conduct of those who were charged with the pursuit.
They all relate to the operations on McClellan's right, and there is
perfect silence as to any attempt to intercept us on his left, or any
order to do so. Averill, who was stationed with the cavalry on the
left flank, is nowhere mentioned, and there is no report from him.
After we crossed the Chickahominy we were in a _cul de sac_, formed by
the junction of that river with the James. Yet we never saw an enemy
in that vicinity, although they must or ought to have had twenty-four
hours' notice that we were coming, as the army headquarters were
connected with each corps by both telegraph lines and signal stations.

As McClellan was very much criticised for permitting Stuart to escape,
if it had been due to the failure of Averill or any one else to
execute his orders, he would have put the blame where it belonged.
McClellan's conduct on this occasion has always been unaccountable to
me, and the only explanation I have ever seen of it is in the report
of Gen. Pleasanton, who soon after that became his chief of cavalry.
Pleasanton says: "McClellan dreaded the rebel cavalry, and supposed
that by placing his army on a peninsula, with a deep river on each
side, he was safe from that arm of the enemy; but the humiliation on
the Chickahominy, of having a few thousand of the enemy's cavalry ride
completely around his army, and the ignominious retreat to Harrison's
Landing, are additional instances in support of the maxim 'that a
general who disregards the rules of war finds himself overwhelmed by
the consequences of such neglect, when the crisis of battle

          [28] This was written by Pleasanton after the war. He does
          not seem to have felt the humiliation of Stuart's ride
          around him to Chambersburg, when he, as chief of cavalry of
          the army of the Potomac, was charged with the duty of
          pursuing him.

At that time Pleasanton was commanding the 2d U.S. Cavalry. The
telegraph line at Tunstall's was repaired soon after Reynolds arrived,
on the night of the 13th; and it is impossible to believe that he and
Ingalls did not inform the general-in-chief which way we had gone.
Stuart then had no choice of routes, but was confined to the road up
James River, or not to return at all. This raid is unique, and
distinguished from all others on either side during the war, on
account of the narrow limits in which the cavalry was compelled to
operate. From the time when he broke through McClellan's line on his
right until he had passed around him on his left Stuart was enclosed
by three unfordable rivers, over one of which he had to build a bridge
to cross. During the whole operation the cavalry never drew a sabre
except at the first picket post they encountered. But it was something
more than a mere raid on McClellan's communications; it was, in fact,
a _reconnoissance_ in force to ascertain the exact location of the
different corps of his army, and the prelude to the great battles that
began ten days afterwards, in which Jackson's flank was covered by
Stuart's cavalry.[29]

          [29] General Lee's congratulatory order is as follows:

              _General Orders, No. 74_.        June 23, 1862.

              The commanding general announces with great satisfaction
              to the army the brilliant exploit of Brigadier-General
              J. E. B. Stuart, with part of the troops under his
              command. This gallant officer, with portions of the 1st,
              4th, and 9th Virginia Cavalry, a part of the Jeff Davis
              Legion, with whom were the Boykin Rangers, and a section
              of the Stuart Horse Artillery, on the 13th, 14th, and
              15th of June, made a reconnoissance between the Pamunkey
              and the Chickahominy rivers, and succeeded in passing
              around the rear of the whole of the Union army, routing
              the enemy in a series of skirmishes, taking a number of
              prisoners, and destroying and capturing stores to a
              large amount. Having most successfully accomplished its
              object, the expedition recrossed the Chickahominy almost
              in the presence of the enemy, with the same coolness and
              address that marked every step of its progress, and with
              the loss of but one man, the lamented Latané, of
              the 9th Virginia Cavalry, who fell bravely leading a
              successful charge against a superior force of the enemy.
              In announcing the signal success to the army, the
              general commanding takes great pleasure in expressing
              his admiration of the courage and skill so conspicuously
              exhibited throughout by the general and the officers and
              men under his command. In addition to the officers
              honorably mentioned in the report of the expedition, the
              conduct of the following privates has received the
              special commendation of their respective commanders:
              Private Thomas D. Clapp, Co. D, 1st Virginia Cavalry,
              and J. S. Mosby, serving in the same regiment; privates
              Ashton, Brent, R. Herring, F. Herring, and F. Coleman,
              Co. E, 9th Virginia Cavalry.

              By command of

              R. H. CHIETON, A.A.G.        GENERAL LEE.

          In General McClellan's posthumous book there is a private
          letter of his, dated June 15th, 10.45 P.M., in which he
          says: "I then gave orders to Averill for a surprise party
          to-morrow, to repay Secesh for his raid of day before
          yesterday." So the surprise party was not ordered until
          Stuart had got back to camp.

The seven days' battles were fought behind intrenchments, and in
swamps which afforded no opportunity for the use of cavalry except in
guarding the flanks of the infantry and the minor operations of
outpost duty. When they were over, the cavalry had a short respite
from labor. I never could rest inactive; and so I asked Stuart to let
me take a party of men to northern Virginia.

Gen. Pope had then just assumed command of that department. He had a
long line of communications to guard; and his scattered army corps
offered fine opportunities for partisan war. The wiser policy of
concentration had not then been adopted by the Federal generals.
Stuart was recruiting his cavalry, and was not willing to spare any
for detached service; but gave me a letter of introduction to Gen.
Jackson, who had been sent up to Gordonsville to observe Pope. He sent
him by me a copy of Napoleon's maxims, which had just been published
in Richmond. Stuart wanted Jackson to furnish a detail of cavalry to
go with me behind Pope, who had just published the fact to the world
that he intended to leave his rear to take care of itself. With a
single companion, and full of enthusiasm, I started on my mission to
Jackson. I concluded to take the cars at Beaver Dam and go on in
advance to his headquarters and wait there for my horse to be led on.
I was sitting in the depot, and my companion had hardly got out of
sight, when a regiment of Union cavalry rode up, and put an attachment
upon my person. They had ridden all night from Fredericksburg to
capture the train which was due in a few minutes. I was chagrined, not
only at being a prisoner, but because my cherished hopes were now
disappointed. The regiment fronted into a line to wait for the cars;
and they placed me in the front rank. I called to an officer, and
protested against being put where I would be shot by the guard on the
train. For some reason, the commanding officer gave orders to leave;
perhaps it was because he was as much opposed to being shot as I was.
The train soon afterwards arrived; and I do not think there were any
soldiers on it. That night, I slept on the floor of the guard-house at
Fredericksburg; on the next day the _cartel_ for the exchange of
prisoners was agreed on. My imprisonment lasted ten days; and I
confess that I rather enjoyed my visit to Washington. I kept up my
habits as a scout, and collected a large budget of information. The
steamer on which I came back lay four days in Hampton Roads, and then
proceeded up James River. When we first arrived there I noticed a
large number of transports, with troops on board, lying near Newport
News, and learned that they belonged to Burnside's corps just arrived
from North Carolina. Here, now, was a problem for me to solve. Where
were they going? to reinforce Pope or McClellan? I set about to find
out. If they went to Pope it meant the withdrawal of McClellan. The
captain of the steamer promised me to find out their destination. A
few hours before we left, I observed them all coming down and passing
out by Fort Monroe. When the captain returned from on shore, he told
me that the transports were going up the Potomac. This settled the
question; the Peninsula campaign was over.

About ten o'clock in the morning we reached the point on James River
where the commissioners had met. I knew that it would take several
hours to complete the exchange and every minute then was precious. I
whispered to the Confederate commissioner--Judge Culd--that I had
important news for General Lee and he let me go immediately. I started
off with a haversack full of lemons I had bought at Fort Monroe to
walk twelve miles to headquarters on a hot day in August. I trudged on
several hours weary and footsore, until completely exhausted I had
fallen down on the roadside. While lying there a horseman of the
Hampton Legion came riding by, and I stopped him and explained my
condition and anxiety to see General Lee. He dismounted, put me on his
horse, took me to his camp near by, and, getting a horse for himself,
went with me to the general's headquarters. I wish that I knew his
name that I might record it with the praise that is due to his
generous deed. The first one I met at headquarters, with a good deal
of the insolence of office, told me that I could not see the general.
I tried to explain that I did not come to ask a favor, but to bring
him important information. Another one of the staff standing by told
me to wait a moment. He stepped into the adjoining room and soon
called me in. I now found myself for the first time in the presence of
the great commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. He was alone and
poring over some maps on the table, and no doubt planning a new
campaign. Although his manner was gentle and kind, I felt for him an
awe and veneration which I have never felt for any other man. He was
then the foremost man in all the world, and I almost imagined that
I saw one of the Homeric heroes before me. With some embarrassment
I told what I had learned about Burnside's troops. He listened
attentively, and after I was through called to a staff officer to have
a man ready to take a despatch to General Jackson. At that time
communication was kept up between them by a line of relay couriers.
They were afraid to trust the telegraph that had been tampered with by
raiding parties from Fredericksburg. Jackson received the despatch
that night informing him that Burnside was on his way to Pope, and
hastened to strike him at Cedar Mountain before reinforcements could
arrive. Pope says, "This battle was fought at a distance of more
than one hundred miles from Richmond, only five days after General
McClellan received his orders to withdraw and five days before he had
commenced to do so, or had embarked a man." When the Army of the
Potomac was being withdrawn from the front of Richmond, Gen. Lee began
to transfer his own to the line of the Rapidan. Stuart, with his
staff, came ahead by rail and left Fitz Lee to bring on the cavalry
division. I joined him on the evening of August 17th, and that night
we rode to a place called Vidiersville in Orange County, where we
expected to find the cavalry. It had not, however, come up, and Stuart
sent his adjutant to look for it, and the rest of us--five in
number--unsaddled our horses and lay down to sleep on the porch of a
house by the roadside. We were outside our picket lines and in a mile
or so of the enemy on the river, but did not think there was much risk
in spending the night there.

About sunrise the next morning a young man named Gibson, who had been
a fellow-prisoner with me in the Old Capitol, woke me up and said that
he heard the tramp of cavalry down the road. We saddled quickly, and
started to see what it was, but first woke Stuart up. As Fitz Lee was
due, we supposed it was our own cavalry, but there was a chance that
it might be the enemy, and we did not want to be again caught napping.
After going about two hundred yards, we saw through the morning mist a
body of cavalry that had stopped at a house to search it. We halted,
but could not tell who they were. Presently two officers rode forward
and began firing on us. This convinced me that they were no friends of
mine, and as neither one of us had a pistol or a sabre, I am not
ashamed to say that we turned and ran away with the Yankee cavalry
close after us. The firing saved Stuart. He had walked out into the
yard bareheaded, and when he heard it, mounted his horse and leaped
over the fence, and escaped through the back yard with one of his
aides just as Gibson and I passed by at full speed. The cavalry
stopped the pursuit to pick up Stuart's hat and cloak and the nice
patent-leather haversack I had brought from Washington, which we had
left on the porch. It was a scouting party General Pope had sent out.
They had caught Stuart's adjutant during the night and found on him a
letter from General Lee, disclosing the fact that he would cross the
river to attack Pope on the 20th. So Pope, on the 18th, issued orders
to withdraw beyond the line of the Rappahannock; he had already
received information through a spy that our whole army was assembling
in his front and was about retreating anyway. If the cavalry had not
stopped at the house they would have caught us all asleep.

Von Borcke, a Prussian officer on Stuart's staff, who published a mass
of fables, under the title of "Memoirs of the Confederate War," gives
an account of this affair, in which he represents himself as playing a
most heroic part. As Gibson and I were between him and the enemy, and
running with all our might, it is hard to discover any heroism in
anybody. Von Borcke's horse ran faster than ours, and that was the
only distinction he won. The chase was soon over, and we returned
immediately to look over the ground. Just as Stuart got in sight of
the house, he saw the enemy going off in triumph with his hat and
cloak. In two days the armies were again confronting each other on the
Rappahannock; on the morning of the 22d the Confederate column began a
movement up the river to turn Pope's right. Jackson's corps was just
in rear of the cavalry. When we got to Waterloo bridge, where we
crossed, Stuart galloped by, and said to me, laughing, as he passed,
"I am going after my hat." I had no idea then that what he said would
come true. He had heard that Pope had his wagon trains parked at
Catlett's, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and was going after
them. Pope's headquarters were ten or twelve miles distant, at
Rappahannock Station. Stuart had with him about 1500 cavalry and two
pieces of artillery. We passed around to Pope's rear unobserved, and
got to Catlett's just after dark. A picket post on the road was
captured without any alarm, and the guards with the trains had no
suspicion of our presence until we rode into their camp. General Pope
unjustly censures them. Considering the surprise, I think they did
remarkably well. It was no fault of theirs that Stuart had got to the
rear of their army without being discovered. It was the duty of their
cavalry on the front to watch him, and tell them he was coming.
Fortunately for Pope, the most terrific storm I ever saw came up
before we reached Catlett's. But for that, nearly the whole of the
transportation of his army would have been destroyed. The night was
pitch dark and the rain fell in torrents. Flashes of lightning would
often illuminate the scene, and peals of thunder seemed to roll from
pole to pole. Stuart halted about half a mile from the station, and
sent the First and Fifth Virginia cavalry to destroy a large park of
wagons whose camp-fires could be seen. I went along with my old
regiment. We had to cross a railroad embankment and a ditch, of which
the men knew nothing until they tumbled into it. Most of them
scrambled out, and got into the camp on the other side. It was
defended by the Bucktails, who, under cover of the wagons and the
darkness, poured a hot fire into us. All that we could see was the
flashes from their guns. The animals became frightened, and increased
the noise and confusion of the fight. The shooting and shouting of the
men, the braying of the mules, the glare of the lightning and roll of
the thunder, made it seem like all Pandemonium had broken loose.

But cavalry, in a fight against invisible infantry, is defenceless. We
left the camp with little or no damage to ourselves or the enemy.
Other detachments were more successful in burning wagons and making
captures. A party was sent to burn the railroad bridge over Cedar Run;
but in such a storm they might just as well have tried to burn the
creek. It happened that not far from Catlett's we met a negro in the
road, who recognized Stuart as an old acquaintance, and offered to
conduct him to Pope's headquarter wagons. The Ninth Virginia cavalry
was sent with the guide after them. A festive party of quartermasters
and commissaries was captured there, together with Pope's money-chest,
despatch book, and correspondence, and also his wardrobe, including
_his hat_ and ostrich plume. Stuart was now revenged--he had swapped
hats with Pope.

The material results of the expedition were not what had been
expected. The storm of that night--which caused a rise of six feet in
the river--was the salvation of Pope. The _raid_ had, however, a
demoralizing effect on the army whose communication had been so
audaciously assailed. Von Borcke, as usual, relates prodigies he
performed that were never surpassed by Amadis of Gaul. He says that he
was detailed by Stuart to capture Pope, and tells how he entered his
tent shortly after he had left. Now Pope had never been on the spot;
his headquarters were then fifteen miles from there; and Stuart knew
that a general commanding an army does not sleep with his wagon
trains. We returned the next morning by the same route we came, but
never saw an enemy. It would be a natural question to ask--what was
Pope doing with his cavalry? In the storm and darkness we had failed
to cut the telegraph wire, so Pope kept up communication with
Washington. At five o'clock P.M. that day--when Stuart's cavalry was
in the rear and within a few miles of Catlett's, he told Halleck,
"_The enemy has made no attempt to-day to cross the river._" At
nine o'clock that night, when we were plundering his headquarter
trains, he tells Halleck a heavy force had crossed the river that day,
and asked him to send up a brigade to guard the bridge over Cedar Run.
But for the providential rain the bridge would have then been burning,
and Halleck would have been saved the trouble of sending infantry to
protect it. Pope had no idea where we were. Fifteen minutes later, he
tells Halleck, that he must either fall back behind Cedar Run, or
cross the Rappahannock at daybreak the next morning and assail the
rear of the Confederate army. Halleck advised the latter movement.
Pope said the rise of the river that night that swept away his bridges
prevented his crossing. Here Providence stepped in again and saved
him. If the "stars in their courses fought against Sisera," so did the
floods against Robert E. Lee in this campaign.

At that time Jackson and Longstreet were in front of Pope, and Stuart
was behind him. A week after this he was defeated, when we were no
stronger and he had received at least 25,000 reinforcements from
McClellan. But General Pope had left out an important factor in his
calculation,--and that was Stonewall Jackson. He had already thrown
one of his brigades over the river at Sulphur Springs, but the storm
arrested the passage of the others. If General Pope had attempted such
a movement as he indicated to Halleck, General Lee would not have
interfered with it but let him go on. Jackson and Stuart would then
have swept down the north bank of the river in his rear, and General
Pope would have found himself in the condition of a fly in an
exhausted receiver. This would have saved Jackson the long flank march
he afterwards made to Manassas without involving his separation from
Longstreet. Speaking of the raid on Catlett's, General Pope says: "At
the time this cavalry force attacked Catlett's--and it certainly was
not more than three hundred strong--our whole army trains were parked
at that place, and were guarded by not less than 1500 infantry and
five companies of cavalry. The success of this small party of the
enemy, although very trifling and attended with but very little
damage, was most _disgraceful_ to the force that had been left in
charge of the trains." It was certainly not the fault of the troops
guarding the trains that they had no notice that we were coming; and I
think he has greatly exaggerated their number.

On the 25th, Jackson, having gone higher up the river, crossed the
Rappahannock four miles above Waterloo Bridge, which was held by
Sigel's Corps and Buford's Cavalry. The Black Horse Company[30] acted
as his escort, and the Second Virginia Cavalry led the advance. The
signal stations near the rivers reported this movement immediately to
Gen. Pope. An officer in the army under Pope, who had been a classmate
of Jackson's at West Point, thus speaks of the great hero and his
wonderful march: "In that devotion which men yield to monarchs of the
battle-field; in that glow of pride which men share with the great
chieftain whose powers have created chances and directed results,--the
soldier subjects under Napoleon Bonaparte were closely allied in
enthusiasm, in worship, and in admiration with the soldier citizens
under Stonewall Jackson."...

          [30] Commanded by Capt. A. D. Payne.

"The sun sank down; the stars appeared; the night sped on till nearly
twelve, when Jackson's advance had approached within one mile of
Salem, where, as his weary column sank down to rest, McDowell received
the message that Pope believed the enemy was marching for the
_Shenandoah Valley by way of Front Royal and Luray_."

On the mathematical principle that parallel lines meet in infinity,
Jackson might have reached the valley by the route he had travelled.
His camp that night was in Pope's rear, and in twelve miles of
McDowell, who was occupying Warrenton. But Gen. Pope was bewildered,
and appeared to have no suspicion of where he was going. At daylight
no reveille sounded in the Confederate camps; but Jackson moved
silently on, and turned to the east. After his column had passed
out of sight of the signal stations, Gen. Pope seemed to lose
entirely the touch of it; but the "lost Pleiad" kept on its way.
A competent general would have struck Jackson's flank with a cavalry
reconnoissance on his first day's march. I do not know whether the
failure to do so was the fault of the chief of cavalry or the

On the 26th, before daylight, Stuart's cavalry corps crossed the
Rappahannock and followed the route Jackson had taken the day before,
until it got to Salem, and then turned to the right. About four
o'clock P.M., we overtook Gen. Jackson at Gainesville; having
marched all day around the flank and rear of the Federal army without
seeing an enemy. We were now within about seven miles of Manassas
Junction. On the same day, Longstreet followed on Jackson's track.
While all this was going on in his rear, Gen. Pope's attention had
been attracted by some Confederate batteries that kept up a fire in
his front. His army remained motionless. Its very tranquillity at last
became oppressive; some feared that it was the awful stillness that
precedes the storm; that he was imitating Napoleon at Austerlitz, and
allowing one wing of our army to be extended in order to pierce its
centre and destroy it. About six o'clock on the afternoon of the 26th,
the advance of Jackson's column, under Col. Munford, struck the Orange
& Alexandria Railroad at Bristoe Station, nine miles from Pope's
headquarters, which were at Warrenton Junction. The small guard was
surprised and captured; they had no more expectation of seeing
Stonewall Jackson than Hamlet's ghost. Just then a train came up, and
ran the gauntlet under fire, that carried the astounding news to
Manassas, five miles off. From there it was telegraphed to Washington.
Two more trains came along in a few minutes, that had just left
headquarters, and were caught. Stuart was then sent on with a force of
infantry and cavalry to capture Manassas, which, with all its immense
stores, fell into his hands. Twenty thousand Confederate troops were
now behind Gen. Pope; and Longstreet was marching around his flank;
but his army still faced the other way. As Gen. Jackson says, "My
command was now in the rear of Gen. Pope's army, separating it from
the Federal capital and base of supplies."

This march of Jackson's I regard as one of the most wonderful things
ever achieved in war. Gen. Pope says that it "was plainly seen and
promptly reported to Gen. Halleck," but that so confidently did he
rely on troops promised from Washington being in position to oppose
Jackson that it gave him no uneasiness. That it gave Gen. Pope no
uneasiness, I think is due to the fact that _he knew nothing about
it_. It certainly would have given Napoleon or Wellington a good
deal of uneasiness to have had Stonewall Jackson with 20,000 men in
his rear and in nine miles of his headquarters. Now, it seems to me
that his knowledge of what Jackson was doing cannot be reconciled with
fidelity to his government, and his contemporaneous despatches and
conduct. _They_ can only be explained on the theory of his ignorance
of the movement, or his _co-operation_ with Jackson. The night before
he had told McDowell that he believed the Confederate troops had gone
to the Shenandoah valley. Jackson, I know, did marvellous things; but
Gen. Pope could hardly have thought he could march an army east and
west at the same time. If he knew that Jackson was going to Manassas,
he could not have believed that he had gone to the valley. Admitting
that he thought Franklin's corps was at Manassas to meet him, he would
be a curious commander-in-chief not to inquire if it was or not to
give his subordinate warning of the enemy's approach, in order that he
might get ready to fight, or burn his stores and run away. If he had
even called the telegraph operators at Bristoe and Manassas, they
could have told him that there were just enough troops there to get
caught, and that they knew nothing of Jackson's coming. He tells
McDowell, _after_ Jackson got to Bristoe, that the enemy's cavalry
have interrupted communication with Manassas, and orders a single
regiment to go down on the cars to repair the damage. Did he think one
regiment could drive Stonewall Jackson away?

The next morning Halleck sends up a brigade to Manassas, that was
almost annihilated,--its commander killed, and the train captured on
which they came. If Halleck had known he was sending them into the
jaws of death, he would have incurred a criminal responsibility. All
of General Pope's orders and despatches at the time have been
published; there is not a hint in any of them that he knew of
Jackson's movement around him. The first time he suspected it was when
the telegraph wire was cut, and he had to stop talking with Halleck.
Three hours after that, McDowell telegraphs to Pope that an
_intelligent_ negro had just come in and reported that Jackson
had passed through Thoroughfare Gap that day. Pope's answer shows that
this news was a revelation and a surprise to him.

At that time Jackson's men, after a march of over fifty miles in two
days, were eating his rations in sight of the blazing bridges and
railroad trains at Manassas. The next day a cavalry reconnoissance
under Buford was ordered to Salem, to ascertain the truth of the
negro's statement. If it had been sent two days earlier it might have
done some good. But Pope did not wait to hear from Buford, but changed
front and hastened towards Manassas to recover his communications.
Buford returned with his broken-down cavalry to Warrenton that night,
but Pope's whole army had gone. During that day Jackson's wearied
soldiers were resting and refreshing themselves from their abundant
spoils. At night Jackson marched away towards Thoroughfare to unite
with Longstreet. The supplies that he could not transport were burned.
Pope's army with the railroad broken was now in a starving
condition.[31] To lead Pope astray, A. P. Hill's division was sent a
roundabout way by Centreville and rejoined Jackson the next day at

          [31] See his despatch to Halleck.

The reason that Jackson left Manassas was that Stuart had captured a
despatch showing that Pope was concentrating his army on that point.
General Jackson says: "General Stuart kept me advised of the movements
of the enemy." In a despatch to Fitz John Porter on the evening of the
27th, Pope ordered him to be at Bristoe at daylight the next morning
to bag Jackson who was then five miles off. General Pope says that
Jackson made a mistake in leaving Manassas before he got there. If
Jackson went there to be caught it was. If Pope had reached the place
at daylight he would have found nothing but a rear-guard of Stuart's
cavalry. He has censured Porter for not getting there in time to bag
Jackson. Pope himself arrived about noon. It happened that the evening
before I rode off to a farmer's house to get some supper and slept
under a tree in the yard. The next morning I returned to the Junction
thinking our army was still there. I found the place deserted and as
silent as the cities of the plain. So, if General Pope and Fitz John
Porter had come at that time they might have caught _me_, that is, if
their horses were faster than mine. Pope was deceived by Jackson's
stratagem and marched off to Centreville to find him. Every step he
took in that direction carried him farther from Jackson. He seemed to
be groping in the dark. Instead of marching his infantry off in the
morning on a fool's errand to Manassas in search of Jackson he ought
first to have felt the enemy with his cavalry, and then manoeuvred his
army so as to intercept his junction with Longstreet. Pope did exactly
the reverse.

On the evening of the 28th, Longstreet drove Ricketts' division from
Thoroughfare and the head of his column bivouacked in about six miles
of Jackson. During the fight I rode with Stuart towards the Gap.

As Ricketts was then between him and Longstreet, Stuart sent a
despatch by a trusty messenger urging him to press on to the support
of Jackson.

I do not think any other commander ever performed such a feat, or
extricated himself from such perils as environed Jackson on this
expedition. His success was largely due to Stuart's cavalry, who were
the eyes of the army, that brought him quick intelligence of the
enemy, and as the Count of Paris says, "screened all Jackson's
movements as with an impenetrable veil." On the morning of the 29th,
in a despatch to Porter and McDowell, Gen. Pope says: "The indications
are that the whole force of the enemy is moving in this direction at
a pace that will bring them here by _to-morrow_ night or _next_
morning." His cavalry could not then have informed him of the result
of the combat between Longstreet and Ricketts on the afternoon before;
for it was impossible for him to believe that the man who was called
the war-horse of the Southern Army would take two days to march six
miles with the thunders of battle rolling in his ears. General Pope
does not seem to have recovered his mental equilibrium when he wrote
his report, for he says, in one place, "Every indication during the
night of the 29th and up to 10 o'clock on the morning of the 30th
pointed to the _retreat_ of the enemy from our front;" and further on
he says, "During the whole night of the 29th and the morning of the
30th the _advance_ of the main army under Lee was arriving on the
field to reinforce Jackson." That is, the arrival of 30,000 fresh
Confederate troops on the field was a sign to Gen. Pope that they were
running away.

No one can study this campaign without being struck by the marked
difference between the commanders of the two armies in the employment
of their cavalry. A distinguished general who served under Pope says:
"That judicious use of cavalry by which Jackson covered his front,
concealed his movements, discovered his enemies, and succeeded in his
raids, had not at that period been generally appreciated by Federal
commanders, and was almost entirely neglected by Pope."

I cannot close this account of the part borne by Stuart's cavalry in
this campaign without some reference to the use that has been made of
his report of it by the partisans of General Pope, and the criticism
it has borne from the friends of General Porter. It is remarkable that
both parties should agree in the construction put upon it, and that so
clearly a wrong one. One side refers to it to prove the assertion of
General Pope: "I believe--in fact I am positive--that at five o'clock
on the afternoon of the 29th General Porter had in his front no
considerable body of the enemy. I believed then--as I am very sure
now--that it was easily practicable for him to have turned the right
flank of Jackson and to have fallen on his rear: and if he had done
so, we should have gained a decisive victory over the army under
Jackson before he could have been joined by any of the forces of
Longstreet," etc. He further says that about sunset of the 29th the
advance of Longstreet began to arrive on the field. The essence of the
controversy is the time of Longstreet's arrival. Could Porter have
reached Gainesville, the objective point on which he and Longstreet
marched that day, in time to have executed the order of 4.30 P.M.
of the 29th to turn the Confederate flank? While the order does not
specify Jackson's, but says the enemy's flank, it clearly referred to
Jackson, for General Pope asserted that Longstreet was not then on
the field and could not arrive before the next day. As Porter and
Longstreet had camped the night before about the same distance from
that place, and as Porter,[32] owing to contradictory orders, had
marched twice the distance that Longstreet did, the presumption is
that the latter arrived there first.

          [32] Porter's corps camped at Bristoe the night of the 28th.
          About 6 o'clock on the morning of the 29th he was ordered by
          Pope to Centreville. When he got near Bull Run he was
          ordered to countermarch to Gainesville.

To my mind Stuart is a conclusive witness for Porter. Yet one critic
(General Cox) argues that there was no obstruction but Stuart's
cavalry between Porter and Jackson, and an author of a defence of
Porter (General George H. Gordon) calls his report a romance. Stuart
says that General Lee arrived at Gainesville on the morning of the
29th with Longstreet's corps; that he passed his cavalry through
Longstreet's column and placed it on his flank; that during the day
his videttes reported the approach of Porter's corps; and that he sent
notice of it to General Lee, who ordered infantry and artillery to his
support. He adds that in the mean time he kept his cavalry dragging
brush to raise a dust, and that the ruse had the desired effect of
deceiving Porter. As Stuart was recovering Longstreet's flank he would
be close to it. Now the object he had in dragging the brush was to
deceive Porter as to the force with which he was in immediate contact.
His saying that Porter was deceived by it was the mere expression of
his opinion--not the statement of a fact. Stuart's object was to gain
time enough for Longstreet (not Jackson) to readjust his line to meet
a threatened attack on his flank. That was all. If Porter saw a heavy
cloud of dust rising in the road before him, he could not tell,
without halting his column and reconnoitring, what created it. But the
delay involved in doing this was all that Stuart wanted. Longstreet
had been in the same dilemma at Salem two days before; when he reached
there he met Buford's cavalry. If he had known that nothing else was
in front of him, he would have brushed them away with a few
skirmishers without losing a minute on his march. But he halted his
column, he says, and was detained an hour before he could find out
what it was. Pope was deceived by a few shells the Confederates threw
at him across the Rappahannock into the belief that our army was in
his front when in fact it was in his rear. The divine genius has never
yet appeared in war that could always at a glance detect every
stratagem and see through every mask. "He who wars," says Napier,
"walks in a mist through which the keenest eye cannot always discern
the right path."

    The Military Society of Massachusetts has published a volume of
    papers on the Fitz John Porter case, which contains a letter from
    Gen. B. H. Robertson to Gen. Porter, in which he says, "There was
    no cavalry in that direction [Manassas Junction] _but mine_,
    which was held there the remainder of the day;" and again he says:
    "I have no knowledge of bushes having been dragged by cavalry to
    create the impression of large forces coming, or for any purpose.
    Had these directions been given, the order would naturally have
    been transmitted through me. I heard no order on that subject."
    And Gen. Porter says, "There was no dragging of brush, nor such a
    project thought of, although Gen. Stuart so states in his report.
    Gen. Pope harps on it." The conclusion suggested is that the
    statement contained in Stuart's report is false, because
    _Robertson had never heard of it_.

    "There are more things in heaven and earth than were ever dreamt
    of in your philosophy, Horatio!" Now, Gen. Robertson is mistaken
    in saying that we had no cavalry in the direction from which
    Porter approached _but his_; Stuart was there in person with
    a part of Fitz Lee's brigade. Gen. Rosser, who was then a colonel
    in Lee's brigade, says: "When Stuart joined me he notified me that
    the enemy was moving on our right flank, and ordered me to move my
    command up and down the dusty road, and to drag brush, and thus
    create a heavy dust, as though troops were in motion. I kept this
    up at least four or five hours." Robertson was relieved by Stuart
    of his command immediately after the battle, and sent back to a
    camp of instruction. As Gen. Porter was not inside the Confederate
    lines that day, it is hard to understand how he could know that
    the brush was not dragged to raise a dust to deceive him, or that
    nothing of the sort was thought of. I am glad that he has been
    relieved of an unjust sentence; but I am not willing to be silent
    now, when "young Harry Percy's spur is cold," and see his
    reputation sacrificed to save Gen. Porter's.

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