Mosby’s Rangers: The Civil War guerrilla fighters that were a thorn in the Union’s side

Belle Montgomery

2nd Lieutenant
Oct 25, 2017

Photos: Mosby Museum

One of the best-known cavalrymen of the Civil War was John Singleton Mosby. He served under J.E.B. Stuart for the Confederacy during the Fredericksburg and Gettysburg campaigns and started his own cavalry unit, the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry, which became known as Mosby’s Rangers, or Mosby’s Raiders.

Mosby’s Rangers operated out of Middleburg, Virginia. Their area of operations in Northern Virginia ranged from the Shenandoah Valley to the west, along the Potomac River all the way to Alexandria in the east, bounded on the south by the Rappahannock River, with most of his operations centered in or near Fauquier and Loudoun counties.

His troops were such a thorn in the Union’s rear areas and supply trains that his area of operations became known as “Mosby’s Confederacy.” They were masters at the art of guerrilla warfare, gather intelligence of the enemy, able to strike quickly in the rear of Union forces, and then able to melt away undetected from pursuing forces.

At war’s end, when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox, Mosby’s men never surrendered, they disbanded and returned to their farms. In a bit of an interesting twist of fate, after the war, Mosby became a political ally and close confidant to President Ulysses S. Grant, his former enemy during the war and served as a consul to Hong Kong.

Early Service And Unit Beginning: Mosby was against secession from the Union, however...

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