As Morgan's star fell, that of John Singleton Mosby was ascending. A lawyer from solid Virginia stock, he had enlisted as a private, but his talent soon earned him a position as MajGen J.L.B. Stuart's most trusted scout, providing excellent intelligence during a number of campaigns. In March 1863 he was commissioned a captain of partisan rangers and given the task of fighting
Members of the Delaware tribe acting as Federal scouts. Native Americans fought for both sides, and provided some of the best scouts and irregular forces for the Confederacy. Confederate Indians made numerous raids into Union-heId Missouri and northern Arkansas, and were among the last to lay down their arms at war's end, [Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper)
behind Federal lines in Virginia. His main role was intelligence-gathering and attacking Union lines of communication in support of the Army of Northern Virginia. His 43rd Virginia Cavalry Battalion soon made a name for itself by capturing BrigGen Edwin 11. Stoughton at Fairfax Court House. Accurate intelligence of Union troop dispositions, a small group of disciplined and fearless riders, and a clear objective made this raid a success, and a model for others to come. That May, Mosby attacked the supply lines of the Army of the Potomac and provided intelligence for Lee's Gettysburg campaign; acting as a screening force, his rangers so confused and blinded MajGen Hooker that Lee was able to get a few days' head start into Pennsylvania.
After Lee's defeat at Gettysburg (July 1-3}, partisans in western Virginia refocused their efforts towards interrupting traffic on the Baltimore & Ohio and Orange & Alexandria railroads - the first to delay the transfer of Union troops to Tennessee, the second to stop Union movement against the battered Army of Northern Virginia. However, the Union command had placed an entire infantry corps along the lines, manned every train, and developed faster techniques for repairing damaged rails, so rail traffic was never stopped for more than a day at a time.
Pressed for men, Gen Lee and other commanders convinced the Confederate government to revoke the Partisan Ranger Act in February 1864, and to muster all irregular units into the army. This did not affect the guerrillas, over whom the government had no control, but it did lead to a sharp decline in partisan ranger warfare.
The government made an exception in the case of Mosby's 43rd Virginia Cavalry, whose capability, self-control, and strategic importance ensured rhem special treatment. As Confederate forces withdrew from northern Virginia, Mosby's base of operations between the Blue Ridge and Bull Run mountains - less than 50 miles from the Federal capital - became virtually a separate command, dubbed "Mosby's Confederacy." Mosby continued to harass the Federals even as they pushed towards Richmond, raiding from western Virginia to the very gates of Washington DC in an attempt to relieve pressure on Lee. Mosby also attacked blockhouses and turned on small detachments sent to catch him, and repeatedly hit the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
In Kentucky, guerrillas increased in number. The governor tried to stop them by levying fines on secessionists, with predictable results. By the summer of 1864 the situation had become so bad that Lincoln put the entire state under martial law, and departmental commander MajGen Stephen Burbndge began executing four Confederate prisoners for every Union soldier or civilian killed by the irregulars.
In Tennessee, Morgan made new raids, but was himself killed on September 4, 1864. Rebel guerrilla Champ Ferguson ranged across the Cumberland Mountains, where Unionists and secessionists fought a bitter, family-feud style campaign, Ferguson's character is a matter of controversy; many Southerners think he was an effective local leader, while most historians paint him as a sadistic killer who murdered more than 100 men. The law favored the second perspective (see below),
Was this article helpful?