Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby

Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby

Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby

Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby

Synopsis

Confederate John Singleton Mosby, also known as the Gray Ghost, earned a reputation as a genius in guerilla and psychological warfare. From leading daring raids behind Union pickets in the Civil War, to stirring up controversy by unveiling the corruption of his predecessors in the U.S. consul in Hong Kong, his dynamic personality was both the foundation for his success and his greatest weakness. While he continued his well-worn role of underdog well into retirement, he is still remembered for his genius in war, bravery in facing controversy and corruption, and his great sacrifices in fighting for what he believed in.

Excerpt

Union cavalry charging with whirling sabers against Mosby ’s men suddenly realized that nothing in their drills or training had prepared them for this, for Mosby threw away the rules and never fought fairly. Here was no gentlemanly thrust and parry, but revolver bullets, noise, and smoke; men falling to the ground wounded and dead; and riderless horses jumping around out of control. The Union commander was usually one of the first down, and in shock and confusion his men had the urge to drop their reins and allow their horses to behave naturally and run away. “We considered that to meet Mosby and his men at close range meant certain death,” and “often wondered what kind of a man he was that he could give us such warm receptions,” recalled an 8th Illinois Cavalry veteran.

John Singleton Mosby had no military schooling but was a lawyer and student of history and literature, quoting lines from the poetry of his favorite author, Lord Byron. He was a small, thin man—5 feet, 8 inches tall and 128 pounds—and an outstanding horseman who could handle a horse as smoothly as a steeplechase champion. Mounted on a magnificent gray horse, one of the fastest in the column, he led the assault, bridle reins in one hand, Colt revolver in the other. His eyes flashed, and he yelled in a high-pitched, powerful voice. In the heat of battle a transformation came over his face: deep and powerful emotions welled up, and his thin lips opened on his perfect white teeth as a satirical smile illuminated his countenance. He was no hedonist—his only luxury was freshly ground coffee—but these Civil War melees were the highest pleasure in his life.

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