Civil War Photo Contest
Featured Book Reviewer
- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
During the Civil War the town of Warrenton was county seat of Fauquier County, Virginia, and changed hands several times as the armies of both sides ranged across the countryside. It lies only a short distance southwest of the twin battlefields of Bull Run/Manassas and served as a vast hospital following both of those momentous engagements. Later, in November of 1862, the Warren Green Tavern just behind the courthouse was the scene of the transfer of command of the Union's Army of the Potomac from Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan to his successor, Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, as described on the historical marker which stands beside the venerable hostelry, now county offices.
Above, Generals George B. McClellan at right and Ambrose Burnside, left, flank John S. Mosby, seen as a lieutenant colonel.
According to local legend, another witness to "Little Mac's" adieux was John Singleton Mosby, who was acting as a scout for Confederate Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart; Warrenton soon thereafter became a prime location of more exploits by Mosby as the leader of his own 43rd Virginia Cavalry Battalion, better known as Mosby's Rangers. According to another probably apocryphal legend, during another clandestine visit, Mosby was being shaved by a barber in his shop in the building below when it was entered by Union officers who were looking for the elusive raider. The quick-thinking barber smeared Mosby's face with lather, and both men denied knowing anything about Mosby or his whereabouts!
On another occasion, following his most famous exploit, that of seizing Union Brig. Gen. Edwin Stoughton from his headquarters in Fairfax, Mosby brought his captive here to breakfast with the John G. Beckham family, with whose son Stoughton had roomed at West Point only a few years earlier. Today a stone obelisk erected on the courthouse lawn in 1920 commemorates Mosby and states, "He has left a name that will live till honor, virtue, courage all shall cease to claim the homage of the heart."
Mosby and his beloved wife of many years Pauline made Warrenton their home beginning in 1865 when the lawyer rented a house north of town, for a time walking from there four miles to-and-from his law office, which was located across from the courthouse. By 1875, he felt established enough to move into town, buying the former home of Judge Spillman seen below. Unfortunately, their stay there was to be a short one, as Pauline tragically died in childbirth in May, 1876. Mosby only lived there another year, for by that time he had become a Republican and had supported not only Ulysses S. Grant but also his former enemy Rutherford B. Hayes for President. This unvarnished support caused many of Mosby's former clients to leave him and his practice plummeted; in 1877 he left Warrenton for good, following what may have been an assassination attempt when someone took a potshot at him
According the the tour handbook published by the Mosby Heritage Association,
As Warrenton was the postwar home of Mosby's daughter, Virginia Stuart Mosby Coleman, Colonel Mosby often visited the town in his last years. After his stint as U. S. Consul to Hong Kong ended in 1885, Mosby used his connections with Leland Stanford's Southern Pacific Railroad. Accordingly, he lived in San Francisco for many years. In 1901 he began to work for the U. S. Interior Department as a special agent in the General Land Office and later worked until 1910 as an attorney with the U. S. Justice Department in Washington. But in the final years before his death in 1916, Colonel Mosby often visited Northern Virginia and was seen motoring nearby about the former Mosby's Confederacy... Mosby died at age 82 during an operation at Garfield Hospital on Memorial Day 1916.
Above, Confederate cavalry generals Lunsford Lomax at left and William H. F. Payne at right flank the octogenarian John S. Mosby as he appeared in 1915, the year before his death. Mosby's connection with Warrenton hadn't ended in 1877 because members of his family continued to reside here. His funeral was held in Warrenton on June 1, 1916, attended by his family and many surviving members of his wartime command. Today the much-decorated grave of John S. Mosby is located between that of his wife Pauline and his daughter, surrounded by other family members; below, that of Brig, Gen. William H. F. Payne who is also buried here, along with Brig. Gen. Lunsford Lomax and many of the members of Mosby's Rangers and other units.
A burial mound in Warrenton Cemetery beneath the handsome monument below also contains the graves of the many Confederate soldiers who died here in hospitals following the battles of Bull Run/Manassas. For additional photos and information about the cemetery, please see: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/warrenton-cemetery-warrenton-virginia.139164/