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John Singleton Mosby (1833–1916)

Depending upon one’s sympathies, John Singleton Mosby was either a guerrilla or a cavalry hero. This native Virginian was by profession a lawyer, but when the Civil War began, he joined the Confederate cavalry in time to fight at the First Battle of Manassas. Placed under the command of General J. E. B. Stuart, Mosby fought with such distinction in the Peninsular Campaign and at Antietam that in 1863 he was authorized to organize a group of rangers. They were to operate behind enemy lines, striking without warning and then dispersing to meet later at a prearranged spot.

For the remainder of the war, Mosby harassed the Union forces throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland. Among his exploits was the capture behind Union lines of General Edwin Stoughton and his cavalry garrison of some thirty men, with all their horses in March 1863. The next year, his hit-and-run raids proved especially annoying to General Philip Sheridan’s campaign in the Shenandoah Valley.

Richmond sculptor Edward Valentine took Mosby’s measurements on December 5, 1865, but did not complete a bust of the ex-Confederate until November of the following year. On seeing the finished piece, a reporter from the Richmond Dispatch declared it “a triumph of art.”

Edward Virginius Valentine (1838–1930)
Bronze, after 1866 plaster
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution


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