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Hanging of Mosby's men in 1864. [‘B.’ in Warrenton Virginian, February, 1896.

After the defeat of General Early, at the battle of the Opequon. on September 19, 1864, his command fell back up the Valley. The brigade of cavalry under General Wickham occupied a strong position at Milford, twelve miles south of Front Royal, and Custer made repeated efforts to force him from the position, without effect. About this time it was reported to Captain Chapman, of Mosby's command, that a large wagon train was en route from Milford to Winchester, under the escort of a small body of men. He immediately made disposition for its capture at Front Royal. For this purpose he divided his men into two parties. One party was to attack the train at a point where a cross-road from Chester's Gap intersects the Front Royal and Luray grade; the other, under the immediate command of Chapman, was to fall upon the front of the train, about 600 yards from the town, where there is a hill on one side and a ravine on the other. It seems that Custer had divined in some way the Confederate [109] plans, and, instead of a small train guard, he had his whole division behind the wagons. He waited till the attack was made upon the front, when he threw a large force upon the Manor grade, a road running parallel with the Luray road, and took possession of Chester's Gap, Chapman's line of retreat. The latter promptly attacked the train, when he, in turn, was attacked in his rear. He immediately turned upon the force behind him, determined to cut his way out. The Federals, who had preceded him to the gap, had thrown a strong line across a narrow defile under the command of a captain or major, who stood upon foot in the middle of the road. Chapman formed his men in column, and boldly charged through this line. In the melee, the Federal captain saw he would be captured or ridden down, and offered to surrender himself; but the pressure behind the Confederates was too great for them to stop to parley with one man, and some of those in the rear, not understanding the situation, emptied their revolvers into the captain, killing him instantly. The most of Mosby's men succeeded in getting away, but some had their horses shot, and others were cut off. Among these were, Anderson, Love, Overby, Carter and Henry Rhodes, of the Twenty-third Virginia Regiment. Custer determined to wreak summary vengeance upon these men. Rhodes was lashed with ropes between two horses, and dragged in plain sight of his agonized relatives to the open field of our town, where one man volunteered to do the killing, and ordered the helpless, dazed prisoner to stand up in front of him, while he emptied his pistol upon him. Anderson and Love were shot in a lot behind the court house. Overby and Carter were carried to a large walnut tree upon the hill between Front Royal and Riverton, and were hanged. The writer saw the latter under guard in a wagon lot. They bore themselves like heroes, and endured the taunts of their captors with proud and undaunted mein. One of them was a splended specimen of manhood—tall, well knit frame, with a head of black, wavy hair, floating in the wind, he looked like a knight of old. While I was looking at them, General Custer, at the head of his division, rode by. He was dressed in a splendid suit of silk velvet, his saddle bow bound in silver or gold. In his hand he had a large branch of damsons, which he picked and ate as he rode along. He was a distinguished looking man, with his yellow locks resting upon his shoulders. Rhodes was my friend and playmate, and I saw him shot from a distance, but did not at the time know who it was.

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Custer (4)
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