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[243]

A detail was made to execute the sentence of retaliation, for the condemned soldiers were to be carried to the Valley, and were to be executed in the neighborhood of Winchester, As the party was passing through Ashby's Gap, they were met by Captain Mountjoy, who was returning from the Valley with an additional supply of prisoners taken from General Custer's command. Among the men condemned to death he recognized the artillery officer and one of his companions to be Freemasons, and on his own responsibility substituted in their places two of his own prisoners. The melancholy procession again set forward. Owing to the darkness, the road was lost, and at daylight S——, who was in command of the party, found himself at Rosemont, on the edge of Berryville, and he there determined to execute the sentence, for one prisoner had already escaped and had not been missed until then.

The man who was first called up begged for delay, and said he was not ready to die. His request was granted, and he was postponed till the last. Three were hung and the others shot. But the last prisoner, when his turn came, was not then prepared to die, and striking the guard who held him by the collar a blow which felled him to the ground, rushed passed him, and, screened by the misty dawn, was soon lost to view.

When the substitution made by Captain Mountjoy was reported to Mosby, he was much offended, and with severity told him he must remember in future that his command was not a Masonic lodge.

A few days after this execution, Colonel Mosby transmitted to General Sheridan the following communication:

November 11, 1864.
Major-General P. H. Sheridan, Commanding U. S. Forces in the Valley:
General,—Sometime in the month of September, during my absence from my command, six of my men, who had been captured by your forces, were hung and shot in the street of Front Royal, by the order and in the immediate presence of Brigadier-General Custer. Since then, another (captured by a Colonel Powell, on a plundering expedition into Rappahannock), shared a similar fate. A label affixed to the coat of one of the murdered men declared that this would be the fate of Mosby and all his men. Since the murder of my men, not less than 700 prisoners, including many officers of high rank, captured from your army by this command, have been forwarded to Richmond; but the execution of my purpose of retaliation


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