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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. 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… John Singleton Mosby

“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 stuck 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 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 authenicated act of mine which is not perfectly in accordance with approved military usage.”

“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.”

“War loses a great deal of 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.”

Title page of Harper’s weekly, September 5, 1863, showing Mosby’s guerrillas destroying sutlers’ train from the Library of Congress Collection

Gray Ghost : the life of Col. John Singleton Mosby      James A. Ramage  Soldiers Confederate States of America Biography, Mosby, John Singleton, 1833-1916  Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, c 1999 Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. 428 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm. Map of Mosby’s Confederacy on end papers. Includes bibliographical references (p. [401]-405) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

This is the first comprehensive biography of the renowned Confederate guerilla fighter from Viginia‘s eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge [Gray Ghost] tells the fascinating story of the leader who not only revolutionized the art of the night raid during the Civil War, but who set the precedent for exploiting the psychology of fear to gain essential victories. The first half emphasizes Mosby’s psychological impact on Federal forces, particularly frustrated commanders such as Phil Sheridan, and stresses the guerrilla commander’s contributions to Southern pride.

Confederate John Singleton Mosby forged his reputation on the most exhilarating of military activities: the overnight raid. Mosby possessed a genius for guerrilla and psychological warfare, taking control of the dark to make himself the “Gray Ghost” of Union nightmares. Gray Ghost, the first full biography of Confederate raider John Mosby, reveals new information on every aspect of Mosby’s life, providing the first analysis of his impact on the Civil War from the Union viewpoint.

Mosby achieved far greater fame during the Civil War than the vast majority of the military officers who outranked him. Ramage disentangles Mosby from a mass of myth and misinformation, reaching judicious conclusions that never exaggerate the Virginian’s role in shaping the conflict.

He was, like Lee, a consumate gentleman and a dedicated Southerner who after the Civil War worked with and supported national leaders. Sadly in the second half, the South turns its back on Mosby after the War for supporting Grant for president and the State Department tries to suppress his exposing of corruption among appointed officers serving in foreign embassies. A readable, comprehensive portrait of the 80-year life of a gifted, thoroughly combative man who – like most who served with him – was more dedicated to the American ideal than 90% of northern officers and 99.995% of northern politicians.


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