[September 7, 2017] Those who have fought in war possess a unique perspective on the duty one holds when in combat with the enemy. War has a deep impact on those who are involved in the violence, more so than commonly understood. Success, however, is determined by those traits we possess prior to battle, not those developed within. Colonel John S. Mosby is one such soldier that we will explore today.
Much has been done lately by removing Confederate symbols, statues, and monuments from public places around the country. Yet, when such rabble comes face to face with the facts surrounding various Confederate military soldiers, they often willfully turn a blind eye. A cavalry commander known as the “Gray Ghost” for his uncanny ability to tie up Union forces, Colonel John S. Mosby opposed slavery, secession, and war.
What was it that made the man so successful in war despite not having military training prior to the war but only practiced law? Here are some of the individual traits that made him such a great leader of soldiers during the United States Civil War:
- Physically and morally courageous
- Keen intellect
- Uncompromising discipline
- Demanding of honorable service by all
- Deep-grained pride in his state of Virginia
- Sharp-edged personality
- Praise for his offices and men
- Temperament of a warrior and an aggressive fighter1
No battalion was more feared during the Civil War than the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry. Better known as “Mosby’s Rangers,” they were an elite guerilla unit that operated with stunning success from 1863 to the end of the war. Success of the Rangers reflected the iron discipline of their commander, John S. Mosby, a brilliant tactician. Mosby disbanded his unit without surrendering at the end of the war and sent his men home with this comment:
“Soldiers! I have summoned you together for the last time. The vision we have cherished of a free and independent country, has vanished, and that country is now the spoil of a conqueror. I disband your organization in preference to surrendering it to our enemies. I am no longer your commander. After association of more than two eventful years, I part from you with a just pride, in the fame of your achievements, and grateful recollections of your generous kindness to myself. And now at this moment of bidding you a final adieu accept the assurance of my unchanging confidence and regard. Farewell.” – John S. Mosby, Colonel, Confederate States of America
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- Mosby’s Rangers, Jeffrey D. Wert, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1990.