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Insurrection by means of guerrilla bands is the true method of warfare for all nations desirous of emancipating themselves from a foreign yoke. It is invincible, indestructible… Giuseppe Mazzini

Col. Harry Gilmore of Co.G, 7th Virginia Cavalry every bit the cavilier. He claimed to be able to shoot apples from the heads of his friends. He lit off a crate of fireworks at Federal pickets on Christmas Eve 1862 thereby provoking an artillery bombardment of his own lines. He was accidently shot in the hip during a bar room brawl in Winchester, VA two months later. He served in Co. A for a time ultimately raising his own company which was incorporated into the 12th VA Cavalry. After the war he served as police commissioner in Baltimore and wrote a book about his Civil War activities:”Four Years in the Saddle.” from the Library of Congress

Gray ghosts and rebel raiders    Promontory Press, 1995 Virgil Carrington Jones Guerrillas  United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Campaigns Hardcover. Originally published : New York, Holt [1956] xiv, 431 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Bibliography: p. 373-415. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Silently and boldly the small bands of Confederates would descend from the mountains, attack the enemy, then disappear. They snatched couriers to learn of Union movements and plans; thev destroyed bridges and disrupted railroad service; they stole through picket fines and attacked sleeping camps. Thev demoralized and impeded the northern armies in a way of warfare as ancient as Biblical times, yet as modern as today. They kidnapped three Northern generals from their beds, almost without firing a shot!

Turner Ashby, the “Black Knight of the Confederacy“, dressed in Confederate gray, with gilt lace on his sleeves and collar, wearing high top-boots with spurs and a broad-brimmed black felt hat with a long black feather streaming behind, his appearance was striking and attractive. He stood about five feet eight inches in height and probably weighed from 150 to 160 pounds. He was muscular and wiry, rather thin than robust or rugged. His hair and beard were as black as a raven’s wing; his eyes were soft and mahogany brown; a long, sweeping mustache concealed his mouth, and a heavy and long beard completely covered his breast. His complexion was dark in keeping with his other colorings. Altogether, he resembled the pictures I have seen of the early Crusaders, — a type unusual among the many men in the army, a type so distinctive that, once observed, it cannot soon be forgotten… from a contemporary description

Ghosts and Rebel Raiders tells for the first time the story of guerilla warfare during the Civil War — an exciting account of the incredible adventures of such Rebel leaders as Harry Gilmore, “Lige” White, Turner Ashbv,  Hanse McNeill, and the indefatigable Mosby and their courageous and daring efforts to prevent Northern forces from sweeping through the South.

These men seemed to lead charmed lives. One day they were rumored dead, the next day they were sighted riding off into the hills. Wounded, they were secretly nursed by Southern sympathizers; dead, their bodies were spirited back to their families for quiet interment — and their bands carried on the fight with renewed purpose.

McNeill’s Rangers, a Confederate guerrilla force consisting of Company E of the 18th Virginia Cavalry and the First Virginia Partisan Rangers, began operations in September 1862 under the leadership of Capt. John H. ‘‘Hanse’’ McNeill. Operating out of the Moorefield area, the Rangers attacked union troops, camps, and property of the vital Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Captain McNeill was mortally wounded on October 3, 1864, at a raid on Union forces at Mount Jackson, Virginia. His son, Jesse, took command of the Rangers and led them until the end of the war. On February 21, 1865, they were successful in kidnapping Union generals George Crook and Benjamin Kelley from their hotels in Cumberland, Maryland, and delivered them to Gen. Jubal Early at Staunton, Virginia. At the end of the war, Jesse McNeill and 30 men surrendered to Union troops on April 24, 1865, at New Creek, thus ending the exploits of the partisan band. Probably never numbering more than 100 men at any time, they managed to do damage to union operations and tie down troops to a degree far out of proportion to their number. from the Library of Congress

Carefully reconstructed from diaries, letters and regimental histories, told with the same dash and color that marked his previous works, Ranger Mosby and The Hatfields and the McCoys, Virgil Carrington Jones’ story of these Partisans behind Union lines is exciting reading and an important addition to any library of Southern history.

Col, Elijah ‘Lige’ White in battle fighting off the “burning raid” designed by the union to, “let them [the civiliians of Loudon county] know there is a God in Israel.” Grant wrote to Sheridan on August 16th suggesting, “If you can possibly spare a division of Cavalry, send them through Loudoun County and destroy and carry off all the crops, animals, negroes and all men under fifty years of age capable of bearing arms. In this way you will get many if Mosby’s men. All male citizens under fifty can be fairly held as prisoners of war, and not as citizen prisoners. If not already soldiers, they will be made so the moment the rebel army gets hold of them,” but the troopers were unable to find and capture the elusive partisans.
In the words of Charles Humphreys, “Some idea of the general destruction may be formed when I relate that in one day two regiments of our brigade burned more than 150 barns 1000 stacks of hay and 6 flour mills, besides having driven off 50 horses and 300 head of cattle. This was the most unpleasant task we were ever compelled to undertake. It was heart piercing to hear the shrieks of women and children, and to see even men crying and beating their breasts, supplicating for mercy on bended knees, begging that at least one cow – an only support – might be left. But no mercy was allowed. Orders must be obeyed. . .

 

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