john s mosby
John Singleton Mosby was a Confederate army cavalry battalion commander in the American Civil War. He was also known as “The Gray Ghost.” Mosby’s command, the 43rd Battalion of the Virginia Cavalry was known as Mosby’s Rangers or Mosby’s Raiders. The Unit was a partisan ranger unit noted for its lightning-quick raids and its ability to elude Union Army pursuers and disappear, blending in with local farmers and townsmen. They were so quick and so skilled, that they practically vanished into thin air. Mosby was a legend, and the area of northern central Virginia soon became known as Mosby’s Confederacy. When the war was over, Mosby went on to become a Republican and worked as an attorney, supporting his former enemy’s commander, US President Ulysses S Grant. His political career took him to the US Department of Justice, where he served as the American consul to Hong Kong.
Mosby was born to Virginia McLaurine Mosby and Alfred Daniel Mosby in Powhatan County, Virginia, on December 6, 1833. He was a graduate of Hampden–Sydney College. Mosby’s father was a member of an old Virginia family of English origin whose ancestor, Richard Mosby, was born in England in 1600. The family settled in Charles City, Virginia in the early 17th century. Young Mosby was named after his maternal grandfather, John Singleton, who was ethnically Irish.
While Mosby was a hero in some ways and a politician, there was another side of him too. Mosby was a Confederate battalion commander, yes, but he was known for his guerrilla military tactics. One of his biggest victories of the war found him and 29 of his men infiltrating the area surrounding the Fairfax County Courthouse in the middle of the night. They caught the Union officers completely off-guard, because they were 10 miles safe behind Union lines. The situation gave Mosby the opportunity he needed. He had captured a general, 30 other Union soldiers, and nearly 60 horses, which was already an incredibly valuable take during the war. In addition, Mosby decided to treat himself, and maybe or maybe not his men, to many of the Union men’s valuables, gathering quite a treasure for himself.
While they were taking their prisoners into Confederate territory, they were informed about Union troops in the area. Mosby decided that he needed to protect his goods. So, he left the group and buried his treasure between two trees. He marked the spot with an X. As sometimes happened, Mosby switched sides politically, and personally, after the war. He chose to support Lincoln and even went on to serve on President Grant’s administration. So, what of the treasure? Well, apparently Mosby never retrieved the treasure he pillaged. Some people reported that he sent Confederate soldiers to dig it up, but they were caught and killed by Union soldiers. And if that was the case, either they hadn’t started digging yet, or hadn’t made it to the location yet, because to this day, the treasure has never been found. I guess he took the location to his grave. John S Mosby died of complications after throat surgery in a Washington, DC hospital on May 30, 1916, noting at the end that it was Memorial Day. He is buried at the Warrenton Cemetery in Warrenton, Virginia.