On this day in 1864, John Singleton Mosby was critically wounded in a Union cavalry ambush near Rectortown, in Fauquier County, after returning from a Ranger wedding. Mosby was whisked away to a doctor and safety before Union troopers discovered his identity. He subsequently was reported dead by the Union and Confederate press, to the glee of his adversary, Union general Philip H. Sheridan.
The newspaper clipping on the left (above) is from the January 6, 1865, edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel, and it reports “The Death of Mosby, the Guerrilla Chief.” The famed Confederate’s demise, according to the paper, came over supper. Having tracked Mosby and his men to Rectortown, Union troopers approached a house and there “discovered a rebel officer sitting at the supper table, with an orderly … There was a sentinel in front of the house, whom they fired upon; but he escaped. The noise brought the officer to the door. He had a pistol in his hand, and when called upon to surrender, stepped back into the house. He was then fired upon, and a ball entered his bowels, mortally wounding him. The orderly was secured, but refused to tell who the officer was. There is no doubt, however, that he was the redoubtable Mosby …”
Well, perhaps there should have been some doubt, because five days later, on January 11, 1865, the Daily Cleveland Herald headlined its story: “Mosby Alive and Kicking” (above, right). If the elaboration is a bit terse (“Mosby is said to be still alive and in a place of security, and his early recovery is anticipated”), who can pass blame? It must have been hugely disappointing. In the meantime, you’ll notice that the Herald was also “reporting” that Jefferson Davis was a “meddler” and Robert E. Lee a “marplot.”
A marplot? According to our friends at Merriam-Webster, that’s just another word for “meddler.” Those two!
A version of this post was originally published on December 21, 2011.
IMAGES: Left: the cover of Mosby’s War Reminiscences and Stuart’s Cavalry Campaigns (1887) by John S. Mosby (The Museum of the Confederacy); top right: two newspaper clippings (click to enlarge), the first the Milwaukee Sentinel, January 6, 1865, the second the Cleveland Daily Herald, January 11, 1865; bottom right: a handwritten note on the back of a box of cartridges produced at the Confederate States Laboratory in Richmond, indicates that this was the last round of ammunition sent of Mosby’s cavalrymen in 1864 (The Museum of the Confederacy; photography by Alan Thompson)