Rendezvous of Mosby's Men in the Pass of the Blue Ridge, Shenandoah ValleyThe Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1298, p. 66-67.
January 21, 1865
Blue Ridge, Shenandoah Valley.
Our Special Artist and Correspondent now at the head-quarters of General Lee, in Virginia, has sent us a sketch representing a night-scene which he lately witnessed in his excursion up the Shenandoah Valley--the rendezvous of Colonel Mosby's corps of irregular cavalry in a pass of the Blue Ridge Mountains. But we may leave our Correspondent to describe this subject himself:--"During my late visit to the valley of the Shenandoah with Kershaw's division, I was fortunate enough to fall in with Mosby and a party of his famous band. Though I found it extremely difficult to meet with this renowned partisan chieftain, there are those amongst the Federals who find him when they least expect and much less desire it. Your
Page 67readers, no doubt, have frequently read paragraphs from the American war news mentioning that Mosby had made another swoop from the mountains of the Blue Ridge, capturing a Yankee supply-train and its escort. To my mind he is the most astonishing guerrilla leader in the Confederacy; and the tales one hears of him sound more like the romance of war than the reality; but when it is considered how few men he usually attacks with, his achievements are perfectly marvellous. With comparatively a handful of troopers, he does not hesitate to dash on a train of two or three hundred waggons, fighting and dispersing a guard four or five times his number, and appropriating to the use of the Confederacy the supplies and transportation intended for Sheridan's army. At other times he will fly at much higher game, piercing the centre of a large column on the march, and before either the van or rear are aware of the cause of the momentary tumult, he will be flying to the mountains with a goodly number of prisoners. It is impossible to describe the terror that he excites amongst the Federals; and whenever a party of them are moving through the valley they are most eager in their inquiries as to whether Mosby is anywhere in the neighbourhood. Of course they get but little information from the inhabitants, whose idol he is. Originally, Mosby's band consisted of but one company, but it has lately been raised to a thousand, and he himself made a colonel in the Confederate army, though none of his men are regularly enlisted soldiers. They are mostly sons of farmers and gentlemen, who prefer the ubiquitous life and its stirring adventures offered by their chieftain to the comparative monotony of the ranks in a Virginia regiment. They receive no pay from the War Office, but, instead of it, they are allowed to dispose of their captures for their own benefit, the Government being the purchaser. As soon as an expedition has been resolved upon, Mosby sends a summons to his men, who are dispersed in every direction, to meet him at some gap in the mountains, generally at night, and few fail to answer the call. If they should do so three times consecutively they are immediately handed over to the authorities and conscribed into the regular army. My sketch shows a rendezvous of the band in a pass of the Blue Ridge; Mosby is seated on his horse in the shadow of a rock, and troopers are galloping up on all sides; others are dismounted, waiting the order to move. Beneath, the Shenandoah river winds its course through the fertile valley of Virginia."