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The monument to Mosby's men.

Who whilst prisoners of war were executed September 23, 1864, at Front Royal, Va. Ceremonies of the unveiling of, September 23, 1899,

With the Addresses by Honorable A. E Richards, ex-major Mosby's battalion, and by Honorable R. H. Downing—with further statements by Colonel John S. Mosby and by Major Richards as to the responsibility for the Atrocity.

The reunion of Mosby's men at Front Royal, September 23, 1899, was in every respect one of the most satisfactory events of the kind that ever occurred. The special event to be celebrated was the unveiling of a monument to six of Mosby's men, who, while prisoners of war, had been shot or hung in the streets of Front Royal by the Federal troops on the 23d September, 1864, and to another Mosby man, A. C. Willis, who was soon after hung by Colonel Powell, U. S. A., in Rappahannock county, Va. A goodly number of old Confederates came in last night and this morning early by railroad [251] and country vehicles, and old soldiers and people poured into the town. The occasion was one which touched the heart of the people and all showed it.

At noon there was a meeting of Mosby's men and the number registered and present were about one hundred and fifty. At one o'clock a dinner prepared by the Ladies' Warren Memorial Association and the William Richardson Camp was spread before the Veterans under the shade of spreading trees, and a profuse and elegant repast it was.

Line of March.

At two o'clock the line of march was formed. Two of their bands enlivened the steps of Mosby's men and two other Confederate Veteran Camps, who marched up to the cemetery where, on a beautiful, conspicuous, and most appropriate place, the monument to the martyrs had been placed.

The place was crowded, and it was estimated that from 3,000 to 5,000 were present. The services were opened by prayer by the Rev. Syd. Ferguson, a distinguished member of Mosby's command, who fervently invoked all blessings on his comrades and their beloved commander.

Judge Giles Cook presided, and in a most appropriate address introduced the speakers and announced the programme.

Judge A. E. Richards, formerly major of Mosby's battalion and now a distinguished lawyer of Louisville, Ky., was then introduced, and held his audience with rapt attention.

The unveiling.

Judge Richards' address was interrupted by frequent bursts of applause. When Major Richards finished, the red and white covering which hid the monument was drawn away by two beautiful little girls, the one the granddaughter of Captain Anderson, and the other the great-grand niece of Private Rhodes, both of whom, on that very day thirty-five years before, had been murdered in the streets of Front Royal.

Judge Cook then introduced the Hon. Henry H. Downing.

Mr. Downing's speech was most cordially received. He went to the hearts of his hearers. When Mr. Downing had finished, Captain Frank W. Cunningham was called upon to sing, and he rendered ‘Shall we meet beyond the river.’ [252]

General William H. Payne was introduced and made a most charming address, in which he beautifully eulogized Colonel Mosby, to the delight of the veterans.

Laurul wreaths.

Then thirteen ladies of the Ladies' Auxiliary Committee of the Ladies' Warren Memorial Association, formed around the base of the monument and deposited there thirteen laurel wreaths, representing the thirteen Southern States; and it was while this was being done that Captain Frank W. Cunningham rendered the beautiful song.

The Winchester band then played Dixie, after which the drum corps struck up, and the vast audience dispersed after having witnessed one of the most impressive services ever held here.

Annual reunion.

After the services at the monument were over, Mosby's men met at their headquarters and selected the old officers: Lieutenant Ben. Palmer, Commander; Private John H. Alexander, Lieutenant-Commander; and Rev. Syd. Ferguson, Chaplain. They passed resolutions of thanks to the ladies and veteran camp at Front Royal for their entertainment, and ordered a telegram to be sent Colonel Mosby regretting his absence and renewing their assurance of love and admiration for him.

The Camp also endorsed the action of the committee in locating the monument where it is, and thanked them for their labors.

The next reunion was voted to be at Fairfax Courthouse.

Altogether it was a delightful occasion. Among those present, besides Major Richards and General Payne, were Captain S. F. Chapman, who commanded the Confederates at Front Royal when the men were captured who mere hung and shot; Captain Fountain Beattie, Captain Joseph Nelson, Lieutenant Frank Rahm, Lieutenant Ben. Palmer, Lieutenant John Page, and Colonel Thomas Smith, of Warrenton.

The monument.

The monument is twenty-five feet high, with a base, five feet square, of rough granite, with the names of Carter, Overby, Love, Jones, Willis, Rhodes and Anderson inscribed on the base, and stars and epaulettes inscribed on the side, and is a beautiful work of art. [253]

Among the visiting camps were the Jeb Stuart Camp, No. 36, commanded by Colonel T. D. Gold, of Berryville; Stover Camp, No. 20, from Strasburg, Va., Captain R. D. Funkhouser, commander; Turner Ashby Camp, Winchester, Va., Lieutenant Hottell, commander; and the William Richardson Camp, of this place, commander, Colonel Giles Cook, Jr. These camps were well represented, and made a fine appearance.

Mosby's men.

Major Richard's address told graphically of the daring deeds of Mosby's men and the tragedy that sacrificed the lives of the seven noble spirits who were commemorated to-day. It was as follows:

Major A. E. Richards' Address.

During the war between the States there was organized as a part of the Confederate army the 43d Virginia battalion of cavalry, familiarly known as ‘Mosby's command.’ It had for its base of operations the counties of Loudoun and Fauquier. During the latter portion of the war that section was almost entirely surrounded by the Federal armies. The lines of the enemy could be reached in almost any direction in less than a day's ride There was only one avenue of communication opened between them and the armies of the South, and that was along the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge mountains. Such were the surroundings on the 23d of September, 1864.

On that day a force of not exceeding eighty men, all told, under the command of Captain Samuel F. Chapman, started to the Valley of Virginia in search of the enemy. They bivouacked for the night only a few miles from this beautiful city. Before the break of day its commander, with two companions, rode up the Luray Valley to see what the Federal cavalry were doing. While overlooking their camp he saw an ambulance train, escorted by some one hundred and fifty men, move out towards Front Royal. He at once determined to attack them, not knowing there was any other command to follow. Galloping back to his men he soon made a disposition of his forces with a view to attack simultaneously in front and rear.

Just as the sun was peeping over the peaks of the Blue Ridge mountain the charge was made. The enemy were driven back upon their reserve, when Chapman found that he was fighting the whole of Sheridan's cavalry. It was the command of Major-General Torbert returning from the Luray Valley, composed of two divisions, [254] embracing five brigades. So soon as Chapman discovered the strength of the enemy, he attempted to recall his men. They were flushed with the victory of their first onset, and hesitatingly obeyed the order of their commander to retreat. But they soon realized the necessity of the movement, and alternately charging and retreating, pressed on all sides by overwhelming numbers, they made their way back to the foot of the mountain where they found a detachment of the 2d United States regulars, under command of Lieutenant Mc-Master, directly across their path. Clustering together for a final rally they charged through this obstacle, killing a number of the Federals, among them the officer in command. In these various encounters six of Chapman's men were unhorsed and captured. After the fight was ended four of them were shot, and two were hung, with a label pinned upon them bearing the ominous words, ‘Such is the fate of all of Mosby's men.’

Not Custer.

It was then thought that this was done by the order of General George A. Custer, as the citizens reported he was seen at the time passing through the streets of the town; but from the disclosures in the official record of the war, we are of the opinion that he had nothing to do with it. Both General Torbert, the commanderin-chief of the cavalry, and General Merritt, the division commander, report that it was the reserve brigade of Merritt's division that was engaged in the fight. The records show that this brigade was commanded by Colonel C. R. Lowell, Jr., and was composed of the 2d Massachusetts, the 1st, 2d and 5th United States regular cavalry. We also find the official record of Colonel Lowell's report of the engagement, while it is not mentioned in any of Custer's reports. It was Lowell's brigade that was engaged in the fight. The officer and men who were killed on the Federal side were members of his brigade. He was personally in command at the time, and we may reasonably conclude that it was under his immediate supervision, and not Custer's, that our men were executed. Neither Colonel Lowell, nor General Merritt, nor General Torbert, in reporting the engagement, mention the fact that our men were executed after they surrendered, but content themselves with the statement that they were killed.

In less than three weeks thereafter Colonel William H. Powell, commanding a brigade of Federal cavalry, crossed the mountains [255] into Rappahannock county. A detail of Mosby's men were at the same time escorting some Federal prisoners to Richmond, when they encountered Colonel Powell's command. One of them, A. C. Willis, was captured. Under the order of Colonel Powell, he was hung on the following day.

Each a hero.

Be it said to the credit of American manhood, that there was not one of the seven but who met his fate with the calm courage of a hero. Even he, from around whose neck the loving arms of a mother were unclasped that he might be led to his execution, never faltered in his patriotism, nor trembled as he faced his martyrdom. This monument is to be unveiled in memory of those men who were thus executed as common criminals. The history of the world scarcely recalls a parallel. We had gallant men and officers-scores of them —who fell in the thickest of the fight, and yet we have erected no monument to them; but it is to the memory of these men who suffered martyrdom, that the survivors of Mosby's command are gathered to do honor to-day.

It is grand to die in battle
     Serenaded by the rattle
Of the hissing shot and shell;
     While the flag rent half asunder
Gleams above the sullen thunder,
     Sounding ceaselessly thereunder—
Ah! to die like this is well:
     Yet, how terrible to meet him,
When with shackled hands we greet him,
     With no weapon to defeat him—
Such the ending that befell,
     Those whose names we breathe again—
Martyrs, seven of Mosby's men.

Deeds of Mosby's men.

But why were they thus made to suffer? Was their execution the result of sudden heat, or of some fixed policy determined upon by the Federal commanders for the extermination of Mosby's men? There was nothing in the personnel of the command that required such cruel measures. They were the young men of the South, educated and reared as are the young Virginians of to-day. They had never tortured or executed their prisoners. We must then look in [256] another direction for the causes that culminated in this terrible tragedy. What had they been doing that made the extermination of their command justifiable in the eyes of their opponents?

We find that they had first attracted the attention of the whole country by penetrating to the heart of the Federal army and capturing its General with his staff, and carrying them off as prisoners of war; they had fought beneath the very guns that protected the Federal Capitol; that they had crossed the Potomac into Maryland, and celebrated the 4th of July by the victory at Point of Rocks; that when Sheridan was driving Early up the Valley of Virginia, they had constantly raided his line of communications and captured his outposts. We find from the records of the war that it required as many men to protect, from Mosby's attacks, the lines of communication from Fredericksburg to Washington, from Washington to Harper's Ferry, from Harper's Ferry to Winchester and Strasburg, as General Sheridan had employed in fighting Early's army in his front.

Unsuccessful plan.

We learn from these same records that the Federal government had mapped out a plan of campaign that contemplated driving the Confederates up the Valley of Virginia, then repairing the railroad from Strasburg through Front Royal to Washington, so that the victorious troops of Sheridan could be quickly transferred to cooperate with Grant whenever he should be ready to make his final assault upon the Confederate Capitol. It was a great and comprehensive plan, and, if it could have been carried out, would have resulted in the downfall of the Confederacy before the snows of winter had again descended. Until the publication of these official records we never fully appreciated the part Mosby's cavalry played in destroying these plans; we never knew the connection between the execution of our comrades and the great military movements around us. What then seemed to us but the crime of an individual officer reeking vengeance upon his helpless captives before the excitement of the battle had worn away, we now know to have been in strict compliance with an official order from the commanding general of the Federal armies. If it were not for the revelations of these records, the survivors of the command to which the men who lie buried here once belonged might hesitate, in speaking to this generation, to connect the deeds of their dead comrades with the defeat of these great military plans. But the history of those times is so [257] written by both friend and foe. We find the pages of that history, both immediately before this tragedy and immediately thereafter, filled with dispatches that recount the deeds of Mosby's men in connection with the movements of the armies. They are from Generals Stephenson and Augur and Averill and Torbert and Sheridan and Grant and Halleck, and even from Stanton, the Secretary of War.

We find General Stephenson telegraphing that he cannot send subsistence to the army in front without a guard of one thousand infantry and five hundred cavalry for every two hundred wagons, and that escorts with dispatches had to cut their way through and often lost half their men; we find the commandant at Martinsburg telegraphing that scouts with dispatches report they cannot get through to Sheridan because driven back by Mosby's men; we find Secretary Stanton complaining of a lack of information from Sheridan of his movements, who in reply excuses himself by saying: ‘I have been unable to communicate more fully on acconnt of the operations of guerrillas in my rear;’ we find Secretary Stanton telegraphing to General Grant that in order to re-open this railroad to Manassas, which was to prove so important a factor in their campaign, it would be necessary ‘to clean out Mosby's gang of robbers, who have so long infested that district of country; and I respectfully suggest that Sheridan's cavalry should be required to accomplish this object before it is sent elsewhere. The two small regiments (13th and 16th New York), under General Augur have been so often cut up by Mosby's band that they are cowed and useless for that purpose.’

The fateful order.

But what were the immediate events that led to the issuing of that order for the execution of Mosby's men? It seems that the movements of this little band of cavalry had become so important as to be the subject of almost daily bulletins from army headquarters. On August 9th, 1864, Sheridan telegraphed: ‘Have heard nothing from Mosby to-day;’ but before the day closes Colonel Lazelle reports a detachment of his cavalry attacked and routed. On August 11th, General Weber reports: ‘Mosby's command between Sheridan and Harper's Ferry;’ and on the 12th, Sheridan sends the Illinois cavalry to Loudoun with instructions ‘to exterminate as many of Mosby's gang as they can.’ On the 13th occurred the memorable battle of Berryville, where Mosby with three hundred cavalry and three small howitzers attacked an equal number of the enemy's cavairy [258] and brigade of three regiments of infantry, three thousand men in all, under command of Brigadier-General John R. Kenley, dispersed the cavalry, rode rough shod over the infantry, captured the entire wagon-train they were escorting, unhitched and drove away the teams, burned the wagons, captured as many prisoners as he had men, and killed and wounded a number of the enemy. Although the loss of this train caused General Sheridan to fall back from his advanced position, he failed to report the extent of the disaster to his superiors. Nevertheless the Secretary of War heard of it through other sources, and wired him on August 19th, asking if it were true. General Grant also heard of it, and on August 16th he sends the fatal order to Sheridan which closes with this ominous command, ‘When any of Mosby's men are caught, hang them without trial.’

Then came the tragedy on the streets of Front Royal.

They were Knights.

Why should the members of the 43d Virginia battalion have been singled out as the victims of such a cruel order? Their mode of warfare did not depart from that of a civilized nation, the prisoners captured by them, had always been humanely treated, their men wore the same uniforms that covered the breasts of Stonewall Jackson's veteran's; their officers were commissioned by the same government as those who at the command of the matchless Lee stormed the heights of Gettysburg; they fought under the same battle flag as waived o'er the plume of Jeb Stuart, the embodiment of chivalric honor. And yet, although captured in a gallant charge of less than one hundred against ten thousand, they were executed solely because they were members of Mosby's command.

Other executions, no doubt, would have quickly followed, had not our commander, with the approval of General Robert E. Lee, and the Confederate Secretary of War, retaliated by the execution of a like number of Federal prisoners, who were hung on the Valley Turnpike, Sheridan's highway of travel. An officer was immediately sent with a flag of truce, bearing a letter from Mosby to Sheridan, informing him that his men had been executed in retaliation for those of our command, but that thereafter, his prisoners would be treated with the kindness due to their condition, unless some new act of barbarity should compel him reluctantly to adopt a course repulsive to humanity. Thus did we then, with the approval of General Lee and the Confederate government, register our protest against the execution [259] of these—our unfortunate comrades. It proved a most succesful protest. The order to execute Mosby's men was from that day a dead letter on the files of the war department.

It is not with pleasure we recall these terrible tragedies; it is only because justice to the memory of our fallen comrades demands that these events should be truthfully recorded. As we look back upon them through the dim vista of thirty-five years, they seem to us but the shadow of a frightful dream. The prominent actors in them have nearly all passed away. Colonel Lowell himself was killed the succeeding October, gallantly charging a Confederate battery. General Custer, a witness of the tragedy, was himself massacred by Indians, though not until in his last rally he displayed a heroism of which every American is proud. And Grant, too, has passed away, but he lived long enough to know personally our gallant commander, who won his admiration and undying friendship. There is not today a surviving member of Mosby's command who would not gladly place a wreath upon the tomb of Grant.

Peace Reigns.

Let it not be supposed that we desire to re-kindle the passions of sectional strife. There is no longer any bitterness between the soldiers of the North and the soldiers of the South. Whatever of prejudice may have been engendered between the two sections while the war lasted has ceased to exist. When the Confederate soldiers surrendered their arms and accepted their paroles, they became in good faith citizens of the United States. They turned their hands from the implements of war to the implements of peace. They devoted their energies to the building of their country that had been laid waste by the contending armies. They cultivated their fields; they developed their country's resources; extended her railroads; erected factories; built up her educational and financial institutions, until the whole country is justly proud of our Southland. And in turn, the Southerner of to-day proudly unites with his brother of the North in proclaiming Webster's glorious words: ‘our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country.’

Our patriotism has long since refused to recognize any sectional lines. It is gratifying to know, by the statement emanating from the office of the Adjutant-General of the Army, that during the recent war with Spain, the South furnished more volunteers in proportion to its population than any other part of the country. And [260] who was the central figure around which all chivalrous sentiment first rallied but our own General Fitz Lee? Who was it emerged from the fierce conflict of battle as the real hero of Santiago but ‘Fighting Joe Wheeler of the South’? But, above all, it is most appropriate that we should to-day recall the fact that the gallant officer of Mosby's command who led the charge against the Federal forces, when these men fell in the streets of Front Royal thirty-five years ago, was himself, during the war, a commissioned officer in the army of the United States; and there was not one who bore his commission with more honor, with more patriotism, with more devotion to his country's flag, than did our own comrade, Captain Sam Chapman.

A United country.

Therefore, we want it known that in recalling the scenes which occasioned the erection of this monument, we do not in the least abate our patriotism, nor do we surrender in the least our claim to our country and our country's flag. It is our country, reunited. Its people are reunited by ties more lasting than ever bound them heretofore; they are reunited by the ties of commerce; they are reunited by the marriage and intermarriage of our sons and daughters; they are reunited in our legislative halls, where the statesmen of the North, together with the statesmen of the South, make the nation's laws. And wherever our flag floats, whether upon the land or upon the sea, ‘it bears the stars of the South as well as the stars of the North.’

When we reflect upon the present, we cannot but exclaim how changed is all this since the deeds we commemorate to-day were enacted. It is true the same skies are above our heads; the same mountains lift their blue peaks around us; the same beautiful river flows at our feet day by day, and reflects the stars of heaven by night. But all else have altered. You hear no more the roar of the cannon from Fisher's Hill and the heights of Strasburg. The bugle call and clashing sabres of contending horsemen no longer disturb your morning devotions. The smoke and conflagration of battle have been wafted away on the wings of time. And this beautiful valley, every foot of whose soil has been made sacred by the stirring deeds of her sons, is smiling to day in peaceful prosperity,

While Love like a bird is singing
From out of the cannon's mouth.


Thus, indeed, has time made a fit setting of harmonious surroundings amid which we are to pay this tribute to our comrades. It cannot be better pictured than in the language of one of Kentucky's sweetest poets—

Patriotic sons of patriotic mothers,
     Banded in one band as brothers,
One task only of all others
     Calls us here to meet again:
Calls us 'neath the blue of heaven,
     Here to praise and honor seven,
Heroes, martyrs—Mosby's men.

Lit by Memory's sunset tender,
     See! their names shine out in splendor,
Each our Southland's staunch defender,
     Minstrel's, song and poet's pen,
Sing, write and tell their story,
     They, who passed through death to glory—
Heroes, martyrs—Mosby's men.

Rise, oh shaft, and tell the story,
     Of our comrades, it was Glory,
And not Death that claimed its own:
     While with tears, our eyes grow dimmer,
We beheld their names glimmer
     On thy consecrated stone.

Rise! while prayers and music blending,
     Greet thee as some soul ascending,
Where life's smiles and tears have ending,
     Close beside the shining throne.
Rise! the cry goes up again—
     Love's last gift for Mosby's men.

Ladies of the Warren Memorial Association, permit me, in conclusion, to address a few words to you in behalf of my comrades. The survivors of Mosby's command are few, indeed. Their ranks, sadly thinned in battle, have been still more depleted by the ravages of time. Those of us who were but boys during that war, are now, as you see, gray-haired old men. Though some of us have been spared to erect this monument, the last of us will soon have passed away, and to the care of others we must commit this shaft. It is to your loving hands and hearts we would entrust it.

Through all our conflicts on the battle-field, through all the trials and disasters of our defeat, through all the glorious upbuilding of our country, the loving patriotism exemplified by the women of the [262] South has been our guiding star. It is, then, with an abiding confidence that we entrust this monument to your gentle keeping. To us it is a consecrated column—a voice from the storied past, to future generations, may it prove a silent reminder that ‘It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country.’

Monument accepted.

Honorable H. H. Downing was chosen to accept the monument on behalf of the Warren Memorial Association. Mr. Downing spoke as follows:

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen—I know not why the ladies of the Memorial Association have asked me in preference to my more eloquent brethren to receive for them this beautiful monument, unless it is I was a boy in Mosby's Confederacy, and that the lost cause had my heart and but for my tender years should have had my hand. Those of us who lived in the counties of Fauquier and Loudoun, during that memorable struggle, saw more of Mosby and his men than we did of any other part of the Confederate army, and the greatest compliment I can pay them is to say that they were as much loved by us as they were feared by our enemies.

Mosby himself was no ordinary man; he possessed all the courage of Julius Caesar and the promptness of Stonewall Jackson, and the justice of that great jurist, John Marshall, towards both foe and friend, but when occasion required he did not hesitate to enforce the Mosaic law.

Mosby an idol.

From the time that he distinguished himself as a Confederate scout to the close of his military career, he had the confidence and praise of those highest in authority, and was the idol of those who knew him best. His men were of the same material, and together they performed a part in our unequal struggle unsurpassed of its kind, and which will read more like romance than history.

The occasion which brings us together to-day is one of no ordinary interest. Within the memory of many now present one section of this great country was arrayed in solid phalanx against the other, and literally brother's hand was raised against brother. Then we had war with all of its concomitant horrors. To-day we look upon a reunited people and over a landscape smiling with peace and plenty. Thirty-five years ago to-day, from this eminence, you might have seen six unarmed and defenceless men executed in blood by the [263] order or connivance of a major-general in the Union army. To-day their comrades in arms have assembled as patriotic citizens to unveil this shaft, which has been erected as a token of their love and respect for the memory of those whose names it bears, forgetting as they once swore ‘vengeance shall be mine.’

Confederate Daughters.

To-day representatives of the fair daughters of the South who followed the varying fortunes of the Confederacy with their blessings, their smiles and their sacrifices, are here to receive from your hands this testimony of your love for those ‘whose tents are spread on fame's eternal camping ground.’

The good book says it is more blessed to give than to receive, but in this instance, at least, I am persuaded it is blessed both to give and receive. For while the splendid courage of the half-clad and half-fed Confederate soldier challenges the admiration of the world, the conduct of our brave women was fully as self-sacrificing and as heroic. Where is the instance when a Southern woman ever betrayed the South? In the midst of battle they were our Florence Nightingales. In the hospitals they were our ministering angels; and when sweet peace returned to our land, it was these same constant, loyal, devoted women who gathered together the bones of those who had fallen in battle and gave them Christian burial.

Those of you who have erected this monument cannot feel a livelier interest in all the hallowed associations and sentiments surrounding it than those who have agreed to take it into their charge and keeping. The acceptance of this work of art on the part of these ladies carries with it a far higher duty than that care and attention which a hired servant might bestow. In what I shall say in this connection, it is not my purport to open afresh wounds long since healed. We have peace, we have union; and God grant both may abide with us for all time. But we cannot gaze upon that shaft without remembering that the cause of those whom it commemorates was as firm a conviction of right as these everlasting hills upon which it stands, and in their sight and in ours, as pure and as holy as that heaven to which its apex points. Were it otherwise, these ceremonies, indeed, a hollow mockery. It shall be the duty of those of us who remember the rise and fall of the Southern Confederacy to teach this truth to succeeding generations.


The old South.

Recently a great deal has been written about the New South; to my mind this term is somewhat ambiguous. If its authors intend to convey the idea that since 1865 the Confederate soldier has been succeeded by a new race—a race with different thoughts and different sentiment from those who wore the gray, and that our heroes are apologizing and begging for forgiveness for the part they took in the conflict between the States, and that all of our posterity has come from this alien race—then I for one must protest at such a perversion of history and truth.

I have no more use for such a New South than I have for the socalled new woman.

If, on the other hand, these writers, when they speak of tile Southern Confederacy as the New South, mean that our boys accepted the surrender at Appomattox in good faith, and that when Lee, that grandest of our great men, sheathed his sword at Appomattox, that they returned home and beat their implements of war into plowshares and pruning hooks, and that all, even those who had never known aught save luxury, they and their wives, their sons and their daughters, worked as man never worked before, obeying the laws of their country and administering the same as soon as they were permitted to do so, then I would pronounce a long and a loud ‘Amen.’

The old Confederates.

Who since the war have been our legislators, our judges, cur juries, our merchants, our mechanics, our miners, our ministers. These have chiefly been the old Confeds. It may be they were maimed and disfigured, but their hearts and their minds were all right, and with their one arm and their one leg they worked mightily for the upbuilding of the South. We have never been able to pension them with aught save our love, and for God's sake do not permit them to be robbed of that honor which they and they alone have so worthily won.

In honoring the dead we must not forget the living. I see before me a thin line of Confederate Veterans, men who have faced death a hundred times for their country and for us; year by year another and another of these will fall out of ranks ‘and pass over the river to rest under the shade of the trees,’ until finally when the earthly roll shall be called there will be no one to answer, unless [265] some of those who succeed these heroes shall, as they will, step to the front and report that they are all absent, but accounted for in the remembrance of a grateful country.

I look at the faces of living heroes, and to-day in this presence I can and will promise for the succeeding generation that our greatest pride shall be in your achievements, and that your memories shall be as sacred as our honor, This shaft, as it were, be another covenant between thee and thy people. That your cause was just, that Spartan like, you bore your part, and that peace must be unto your ashes. In closing these remarks I know of no better words than to adopt the language of your commander-in-chief, Mr. Jefferson Davis:

‘In asserting the right of secession it has not been my wish to incite to its exercise. I recognize the fact that the war showed it to be impracticable. But this did not prove it to be wrong, and now that it may not be again attempted, and that the Union may promote the general welfare, it is needful that the truth and the whole truth should be known, so that crimination and recrimination may forever cease, and then upon the basis of fraternity and a faithful regard for the rights of the States there may be written upon the arch of the Union Est Perpetuus.’

Communication from Colonel John S. Mosby.

Editor of the Times:
Sir—In his address at the unveiling of the monument at Front Royal to the seven men of my command who were hung and shot in the Shenandoah campaign in 1864, when they were prisoners of war, Major Richards says: ‘We now know it to have been in strict compliance with an official order from the commanding general of the Federal armies;’ and he quotes in proof of it the last line of the following dispatch from General Grant, who was in front of Petersburg, to Sheridan, who was 200 miles away:

City Point, August 16th, 1864—1.30 P. M. (Received at 6.30 A. M., August 17th.)
Major-General Sheridan, Commanding, &c., Winchester, Va.
* * The families of most of Mosby's men are known and can be collected. I think they should be taken and kept at Fort Mc- [266] Henry, or some secure place as hostages for the good conduct of Mosby and his men. Where any of Mosby's men are caught, hang them without trial.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

As Harper's Ferry was the nearest telegraph station this dispatch must have been forwarded by a cavalry escort to Sheridan, who was 50 miles up the Valley at Cedar Creek. Early was three miles further south in line of battle at Fisher's Hill. Grant's instructions were—‘Bear in mind—the object is to drive the enemy south; and to do this you want to keep him always in sight.’ The real objective point at which Grant aimed was Lee's lines of supply. Their destruction meant the fall of Richmond. Of the same date (16th) as Grant's dispatch above quoted is one from Sheridan to Halleck, at Washington, saying: ‘Nothing from General Grant later than 12th.’ At 7:30 A. M. on the 13th, Sheridan had written Grant—‘I was unable to get south of Early, but will push him up the Valley’—and at 10 P. M. the same day he sent Grant another dispatch, saying: ‘Mosby attacked the rear of my train this morning en route here from Harper's Ferry and burned six wagons.’ This dispatch was not received until the 16th, and no doubt was the cause of the one sent by Grant of that date, which Sheridan did not receive until the 17th. He had been waiting at Cedar Creek for his supply trains. After hearing of the attack on the train at Berryville there is a sudden change in the confident tone of his dispatches and he had evidently become demoralized. Although on the 12th he had declared his intention to push Early up the Valley, yet on the 14th he says to Halleck—‘I have taken up for the present the line of Cedar Run, but will at my leisure take position at Winchester. This line cannot be held, nor can I supply my command beyond that point with the ten days rations with which I started. I expected to get far enough up the Valley to accomplish my objects and then quickly return.’ But Grant's instructions did not contemplate his return. Although Grant had ordered him to drive the enemy south and to keep in sight of him, he quietly retreated on the night of the 16th, and did not stop until he got to Halltown near Harper's Ferry, where he had taken command two weeks before. The Times of January 27th, 1895, published a review by me of the Shenandoah campaign. The following is an extract:

‘During the time that Sheridan was in the Shenandoah Valley, [267] this (my) partisan corps was the only Confederate force that operated in his rear, or in Northern Virginia east of the Blue Ridge., Sheridan affected to call us guerillas, but never defined what he meant by the term.’

Sheridan to Grant: Berryville, Va., August 17, 1864—(9 P. M.)

* * * ‘Mosby has annoyed me and captured a few wagons. We hung one and shot six of his men yesterday.’

Two days before this I had sent three hundred of his men prisoners to Richmond.

Again, August 19th, Sheridan to Grant:

‘Guerrillas give me great annoyance, but I am quietly disposing of numbers of them.’

Everybody will understand what ‘quietly disposing’ of a man means, especially when read in the light of his former dispatches. (The last dispatch suggests the quiet operations of Jack the Ripper.)

Again, Halltown, August 22d, Sheridan to Grant: ‘We have disposed of quite a number of Mosby's men.’

“Disposed of” is not the usual language in which military reports state the casualties of war.

On September 11th, Sheridan again tells General Grant:

We have exterminated three officers and twenty-seven men of Mosby's gang in the last twelve days.

“We have exterminated” is the language of the Master of Stair, when he announced the massacre of Glencoe. Not one-third of my command was from that section of Virginia. A great many were Marylanders. Even if it had been an unorganized body of citizens defending their homes, they would only have been doing what Governor Curtin and General Couch urged the Pennsylvania people to do when threatened with invasion.

Pittsburg, Pa., August 4, 1864.
To the people of the southern tier of counties of Pennsylvania.
Your situation is such that a raid by the enemy is not impossible at any time during the summer and coming fall. I therefore call upon you to put your rifles and shotguns in good order, and also supply yourselves with plenty of ammunition. Your cornfields, mountain forests, thickets, buildings, etc., furnish favorable places for cover; and at the same time enable you to kill the murderers, recollecting that if they come it is to plunder, destroy and burn your property.

D. N. Couch,

Major-General Commanding.


This appeal to Pennsylvanians to turn bushwhackers is signed by a graduate of West Point and an officer of the regular army, who once commanded a corps in the Army of the Potomac. I was a soldier of a great military power; in the Forum of Nations I was Sheridan's equal. I had every right of war that he had. The Southern Confederacy, like the Empires of Alexander and Charlemagne, has passed away, but that does not change the fact that it once existed. From this it appears that Sheridan had begun hanging my men before he received Grant's dispatch of the 16th. At Berryville on the 17th, he said that he had hung one and shot six, the day before. But he did not receive Grant's dispatch of the 16th, until 6:30 A. M. of the 17th, so the murders could not have been committed in compliance with Grant's orders. The government has published all the reports and correspondence, both Union and Confederate, in the Shenandoah campaign. There is not in them a single imputation on the conduct of any of my men except that statement in Merritt's report about the killing of McMasters in the fight at Front Royal, subsequent to this time (September 23d), which I shall again refer to. According to Sheridan, he had begun hanging prisoners on August 16th, and the only reason he gives for it is ‘Mosby has annoyed me.’ To that charge I plead guilty. Instead of our going in disguise, as the newspapers said, mine was the best uniformed body of men in the Confederate army. Every officer wore the insignia of his rank. Sheridan speaks of having ‘exterminated’ three of my officers; but how could he distinguish officers from privates if they were not in uniform? Now there can be no doubt that Grant's order was suggested by Sheridan's dispatch, which he had just received—‘Mosby attacked the rear of my train this morning en route from Harper's Ferry, and burned six wagons.’ It deceived Grant both as to the magnitude of the disaster and the strength of the attacking force. Then why should he trouble Grant about the loss of only six wagons? The impression that it conveyed was that a few professed non-combatants, living at their homes in the Valley, in the guise of peace, had caught six wagons without a train guard, and burned them.

If Sheridan had told the whole truth about the destruction of the convoy Grant would not have sent him such an order, because he would have known that a band of marauders could not have performed such a feat. It is a coincidence that the order is of the same date as the dispatch from General Lee announcing the Berryville raid to the Confederate War Department: [269]

Chaffin's Bluff, August 16, 1864.
Colonel Mosby reports that he attacked the enemy's supply train near Berryville on the 13th; captured and destroyed 75 loaded wagons and secured over 200 prisoners, including several officers, between 500 and 600 horses and mules, upward of 200 beef cattle, and many valuable stores. Considerable number of the enemy killed and wounded. His loss, two killed and three wounded.

R. E. Lee, General. Hon. J. A. Seddon, Secretary of War.

This telegram was published the next day and was seen by General Grant, as newspapers were regularly exchanged between the lines. It informed him of the status of my command. It was the first public official notice of me by General Lee since General Grant came to Virginia. The Berryville raid was the first I ever reported to him by telegraph. The dispatch was sent by John Manson out to Gordonsville, and from there wired to headquarters. The news was sent in haste because I knew General Lee's anxiety about the movement up the Valley, and that it would relieve him to hear that a blow had been struck. His dispatch to the War Department shows the importance he attached to it. He saw the effect it would have on Sheridan. It is a mystery Sheridan does not explain why he stopped talking about hanging my men. It was not because their manners had improved, or that they had ceased to annoy him. He gives no reason why there should be a difference between the treatment of my men and other Confederates. There was no regimental officer in the Confederate army that was in as close relations with the commander-in-chief as I was. The records showed that I reported directly to him and received instructions directly from him. He commanded his army through corps commanders; my battalion was the only exception. Although operating in the Valley, my command was independent of Early's army. Early was in front of Sheridan—I was behind him.

I have quoted Sheridan's dispatches (August 17th to September 11th) about his hanging my men as guerrillas. After that he is silent on the subject. If he ever hung anybody he kept it a secret. I never heard of it until I read it in the war records. I am sure nobody else ever did; the war correspondents never mentioned it. When I retaliated for the massacre of my men at Front Royal, I wrote him a letter telling him what I had done, and published it in the newspapers. [270] I have before me as I write the editorial of Richard M. Smith, of the Richmond Sentinel, commenting upon it. If he hung any citizen of the Valley, their families and friends would have known it, and we would have heard of it. The only justification of punishment is to act as a deterrent; if it is secret it can have no such effect, and is criminal revenge. Now, during the time when Sheridan reports this carnival of crime, not over half a dozen of my men were taken prisoners; these were captured by a Captain Blazer (who was soon after annihilated by Richards) and sent to a Northern prison. Their names are given in Scott's Partisan Life, page 290. If Sheridan hung them there was a resurrection, for they returned home after the war, and I know some of them are living now. He also speaks of ‘exterminating’ three of my officers. Now, during that time I lost but one officer—Lieutenant Frank Fox. Captain Sam Chapman routed the 6th New York cavalry near Berryville; Fox was severely wounded and left at a farm house. Afterward Torbert came along with his cavalry corps, put him in an ambulance, and sent him to Harper's Ferry, where he died of his wound. He was not hung. Sheridan was not as black as he painted himself. The object of retaliation is not revenge. Hall on International Law says:

‘Reprisal, or the punishment of one man for the acts of another, is a measure in itself so repugnant to justice, and when hasty or excessive is so apt to increase rather than abate the irregularities of a war, that belligerents are universally considered to be bound not to resort to reprisals except under the pressure of absolute necessity, and then not by way of revenge, but only in cases and to the extent by which an enemy may be deterred from a repetition of his offence.’

If I had not retaliated, the war in the Valley would have degenerated into a massacre. We were called guerillas and bushwhackers. These should not be opprobious epithets, since the exploits of ‘the embattled farmers’ at Concord and Lexington have been sung in Emerson's immortal ode. Now, while bushwhacking is perfectly legitimate war, and it is as fair to shoot from a bush as behind a stockade or an earthwork, no men in the Confederate army less deserve these epithets than mine, if by them is meant a body of men who fought under cover and practiced tactics and stratagems not permitted by the rules of regular war. Sheridan certainly makes no such charge against us. A bushwhacker shoots under shelter with a long range gun; the Northern cavalry knew by experience that my [271] men always fought in a mounted charge, with pistols. The fact that we were called rebels gave the enemy no rights as combatants that we did not equally enjoy. As belligerents we stood on the same plane. One side could not demand what it did not concede to the other. Massachusetts furnishes high authority in favor of the rights of men who fight in a cause that has grown from an insurrection into an international conflict. In his Bunker Hill address, Mr. Webster said: ‘The battle of Bunker Hill was attended with the most important effects beyond its immediate results as a military engagement. It created at once a state of open, public war. There could now be no longer a question of proceeding against individuals as guilty of treason and rebellion. That fearful crisis was past.’ If Bunker Hill could elevate a local tumult and a skirmish to the dignity of public war, and clothe the defeated party with all the rights of belligerents, then what was the effect of the victories of Jackson and Lee? The government of the United States was born in a rebellion and promoted rebellions all over the world until it had one of its own. In 1851 the Austrian Minister, the Chevalier Hulseman, complained in a diplomatic note that the instructions of the American government to its agent in Europe were offensive to the Imperial Cabinet because it applied an honorary title to the Hungarian chief, Kossuth. Mr. Webster, then Secretary of State, said in reply: ‘In respect to the honorary epithet bestowed in Mr. Mann's instructions on the late chief of the revolutionary government of Hungary, Mr. Hulseman will bear in mind the government of the United States cannot justly be expected, in a confidential communication to its own agent, to withhold from an individual an epithet of distinction of which a great part of the world thinks him worthy, merely on the ground that his own government regards him as a rebel. At an early stage of the American revolution, while Washington was considered by the English government as a rebel chief, he was regarded on the continent of Europe as an illustrious hero.’ When Webster wrote that, the Hungarian revolution had been crushed and Kossuth was an exile.

General Grant had come from the west and taken command of the army cantoned in Culpeper south of the Rappahannock. He moved toward Richmond, crossed James river, and was in front of Lee at Petersburg. My battalion remained in northern Virginia to threaten Washington and the border. It operated along the Potomac in the Shenandoah Valley, and did not come in contact with the portion of the army immediately under the command of General Grant. He [272] knew us only by report. No doubt, in imagination, he confounded us with the Western bands of outlaws, whose inhuman deeds the Confederate government disowned; and that he shared the general belief of the North that I was a leader of banditti—a chief of brigands—a Fra Diavolo ‘on yonder rock reclining.’ Any absurd story will finally gain credence if often repeated. Victor Hugo said that if it were published a number of times that he had robbed Notre Dame of one of its towers, he would have to leave Paris. A majority would accept it as true—a few might question his ability ‘to walk off with a church tower.’ Grant's dispatch bears internal evidence, and read between the lines shows the delusion he was under in regard to my men. He says—‘the families of Mosby's men are known and can be collected’—which implies that their homes were all in Sheridan's lines, when in fact they were scattered all over the South, and some States in the North. Sheridan made no attempt to execute the order, because it was impossible. I wish he had; it would have been the most effective way of destroying his army. He would have dispersed it over a half dozen States, catching and corraling women and children. That would certainly have been an advantage to us; the Shenandoah Valley would have been cleared of his army. Only one of my men hung at Front Royal was from the Valley—one was from Georgia. Grant evidently thought that these Children of the Mist lived in a territory a few miles square. But Sheridan knew better. Grant's dispatch reflects the idea that prevailed at the North and survives to-day, of the character of myself and my men. The beings painted by war correspondents as Mosby's men were as purely ideal creations as Blue-Beard and Jack-the-Giant-Killer. Yet the tales told about them made a lasting impression just as the kissing of pilgrims has worn away stones. They were as pure inventions as the fictions of Titus Oates. We all dislike to see our images broken and to part with cherished illusions. It is probable that the gods of mythology, and the legendary heroes of antiquity had a common-place origin. I still love to read Gulliver and the Arabian Nights, and once thought it was impiety to even doubt they were true. A reporter once asked my opinion of Weyler. I answered that I had never read anything worse about Weyler than I had read about myself, and that if Weyler wouldn't believe what he had heard about me, I wouldn't believe what I had heard about him. Weyler, in reply to American criticisms, said that he learned the art of war in the Shenandoah Valley. He didn't learn it from me. But General Grant admits in his memoirs the [273] erroneous impression he once had of me; of course it equally applies to my men. Some may say the change was due to politics. But his conduct at the surrender when he voluntarily offered us the same parole he had given General Lee, after Stanton had proclaimed me an outlaw, shows that the change came about before the close of the war. The friendship that afterward grew up between us should be viewed with indulgence by Southern people, as it was certainly disinterested on his part, and hurt no Southern man.

The orders of a superior are no defence to a criminal charge. It is a well settled principle of law that a principal is not responsible for the Malicious act of his agent; the agent incurs a personal liability. So I acquit Sheridan of all responsibility for the deed at Front Royal. I doubt whether he ever heard of it before he got my letter. If General Lee had ordered me to murder my prisoners, I would not have obeyed him; I would have obeyed a higher law, the most sacred of all laws because it is written on the human heart—the great law of nature — the law of humanity. I am sure that Major Richards would not have obeyed an order of mine to do a cruel act; if he had he would have been none the less a criminal because he was ordered. Colonel Peters was ordered with his regiment to set fire to Chambersburg; he refused, and was never called to account for it. He was right. Merritt says that Lieutenant McMasters was captured, robbed and shot; none of the other reports mention him. The truth is, McMasters was never a prisoner. He attempted to cut off the retreat of my men when attacked by a division of cavalry. He cut himself off and got killed. My men shot him and rode over him; they had no time to rob him if they had wished to do so; Merritt's whole division was behind and McMasters was in front of them. While Torbert's, Merritt's and Lowell's reports betray the consciousness of a crime committed by some one, they do not disclose who did it. Even admitting that McMasters offered to surrender when killed, there is a vast difference between refusing quarter in the excitement and brevis furor of a cavalry combat and killing in cold blood and under official sanction when the combat is over. Hall, from whom I have quoted, says: ‘A belligerent, therefore, may only kill those enemies whom he is permitted to attack while a combat is actually in progress; he may not, as a general rule, refuse quarter.’ True, but McMasters was killed during the progress of the combat. He may have intended to surrender, but it does not necessarily follow that my men knew it. They had no time to take prisoners or parley. They were surrounded by thousands, and their [274] only way of escape was to break through the ranks that enclosed them. McMasters got in the way; they shot him and rode on. It was not their business to ask him what he wanted to do. Such things are the ordinary incidents of war. But there is a wide distinction between acts done in the fury of combat, even if they might have been avoided, and acts of deliberate cruelty done when the passions have cooled. It will be observed that Torbert, Merritt and Lowell, in their reports, contradict each other (1) in regard to the number killed. As they remained on the field, it is strange that there should be so much discrepancy between them. (2) They say nothing about the wounded. This is significant. The usual proportion of wounded to killed is three or four to one. Nobody ever heard of 18 men killed in a fight and none wounded, except in a Sitting Bull massacre. (3) They make no mention of prisoners. On our side the loss was six captured; none were killed or wounded in the fight. I never knew of a cavalry combat, where the bodies came in collision as they did here, in which no prisoners were taken. As the prisoners were murdered, they wouldn't acknowledge that they took any.

Now, I do not believe that Sheridan ever communicated to his generals, to be executed, Grant's order of August 16th, for the reason that he knew I could hang 500 of his men where he could hang one of mine. He didn't want to play a game at which I could beat him. As I have said, none of my men were hung before September 23; if Sheridan hung any prisoners before then, they were Early's men; but I don't believe he hung any. Torbert was chief of cavalry; Merritt commanded a division under him; Custer and Lowell commanded brigades in Merritt's division. They would not have waited until September 23d to begin executing an order of August 16th. Torbert's, Merritt's and Lovell's reports speak of the Front Royal skirmish. Torbert says they killed 2 officers and 9 men, which shows on its face that my men were in uniform; Merritt says they killed 18; Lowell says they killed 13. Custer's brigade was not engaged in the fight, and of course he made no mention of it. But that is no evidence that he had nothing to do with the hanging—he was on the ground. As none of the reports speak of the hanging, they would equally prove the innocence of Torbert, Merritt and Lowell—in fact, of everybody. They were all ashamed of it as a blot on the fame of Sheridan's army. It is no concern of mine whether only one or all of the generals present participated in the crime; they may all have been in pari delicto. They can settle that question among themselves. The people of Front Royal considered [275] Custer the most conspicuous actor in the tragedy, and I so stated in my letter to Sheridan. Custer never denied it.

There is a report of Captain Blazer's, who commanded a picked corps that Sheridan had detailed to catch us, in which he speaks of being about Front Royal two days after this affair, and says: ‘In another affair below Front Royal, I left eight of his (Mosby's) murderers to keep company with some that [were] left by General Custer.’ Blazer's language is obscure; but, interpreted, means that he had killed eight of my men to keep company with those Custer had hung and shot at Front Royal. The eight men of mine he reports that he had killed were as pure phantoms as those which Sheridan says he had hung; but it is clear that Blazer gave Custer all the glory for what was done at Front Royal. Custer had a grudge against us. A few weeks before, a detachment of my command got on the trail of a party of Custer's men burning dwelling-houses near Berryville. My men overtook them at Colonel Morgan's; his house was in flames. I had given orders to my men to bring me no prisoners caught in the act of house-burning. The order was superfluous; I could not have restrained them if I had wanted to; neither could General Lee. My report says:

‘Such was the indignation of some of our men at witnessing some of the finest residences in that portion of the State enveloped in flames, that no quarter was shown, and about 25 of them were shot to death for their villainy. About 30 horses were brought off, but no prisoners.’

General Lee's approval is endorsed on the report. Any one can see it in the war records. Custer had ordered the houses to be burned in retaliation for some of his men having been killed in a fight with my men. The New York Times of August 25th, 1865, has a letter describing the affair. It says:

‘He (General Custer) issued an order directing Colonel Alger (Custer published Alger as a deserter a few days afterward), of the 5th Michigan, to destroy four houses belonging to well known secessionists in retaliation for the men killed, captured and wounded on Thursday night. This order was promptly carried into effect by a detachment of fifty men under Captain Drake, and Lieutenants Allen, Lounsberry and Bivvins, who were particularly charged to inform all citizens with the cause for destroying the property. The expedition was accompanied by Dr. Sinclair and the work was effectually done, but unfortunately not without serious loss of life. Captain Drake [276] leaving the main part of the command under Lieutenant Allen in line near one house which had been fired, took a few men and proceeded to fire another house about 100 rods distant. While thus engaged about 200 rebels suddenly emerged from a ravine and made a furious charge upon the force under Lieutenant Allen before due preparation could be made to receive them. The men, overwhelmed by numbers, broke and fled in confusion. As only one horse at a time could go through this narrow passage it was impossible for all the men to escape in that way. The enemy were upon them, and no mercy being shown, a majority of the men ran along a fence running at right angles with the road, hoping to find another passage, but finding none and reaching a corner, surrendered as a last resort. Several squads were cornered in this way, and in every instance the men who surrendered were killed after they had surrendered, or were left for dead.’

Instead of 200 there were not over fifty of my men there. Custer burned no more houses that day.

Burning dwelling houses was a violation of General Grant's orders. At my request, when he was President, he gave an appointment to the officer who commanded my men that day. A Washington dispatch appeared in a Boston paper criticising him for making it, and referring to this affair. I called on the correspondent and found out that a certain official had inspired it. I asked him to send a dispatch to his paper from me. He was willing. I then dictated the following: ‘Colonel Mosby says the men killed by his men were caught burning dwelling houses in the Shenandoah Valley, and were shot in the act by his orders. He says if he is ever caught in Boston burning houses he will expect to be treated in the same way.’ The dispatch was published. I then called to see General Grant and told him about the official. He wrote his name on a card but said nothing. Before the day was done the official was a private citizen. Grant moved as promptly upon him as he did on Buckner's works at Donelson.

Sheridan's cavalry knew by experience about as much about the character and composition of my command as I did. There were then serving in the Shenandoah Valley a great many who had in 1863 been captured by us and exchanged. So Torbert—Merritt— Custer—and Lowell couldn't plead ignorance. Major Russell, A. A. G., of the cavalry corps, had been captured by one of my men, Bush Underwood, in July, 1863. We had a few minutes conversation before he was sent off to Richmond. General Wells commanded [277] a cavalry brigade. We had captured him and a large portion of his regiment—the 1st Vermont cavalry—and their commanding general —Stoughton. He wrote me a very cordial letter when I was nominated by Hayes as consul at Hong Kong, and said that he had informed Senator Edmunds of the manner he and his men had been treated by us, and asked him to vote for my confirmation. I received cards of invitation to his daughter's wedding a few days ago. We had many collisions with Colonel Lowell's regiment, 2d Massachusetts. On 22d February, 1864, in a fight in Fairfax, we had taken seventy prisoners from it; on July 6, 1864, in a fight in Loudoun, had captured about sixty—including the commanding officer, Major Forbes. Colonel Lowell knew that his men who were prisoners, were hostages for his treatment of mine. Chancellor Kent says in regard to retaliation: ‘Cruelty to prisoners and barbarous destruction of private property will provoke the enemy to severe retaliation upon the innocent. Retaliation to be just, ought to be confined to to the guilty, who may have committed some enormous violation of public law. [It was not pretended that the seven men of my command had committed any crime.] While he (Marten) admits that the life of an innocent man can not be taken, unless in extraordinary cases, he declares that cases will sometimes occur when the established usages of war are violated, and there are no other means of restricting the enemy from further excesses. Vattel speaks of retaliation as a sad extremity, and it is frequently threatened without being put in execution, probably without the intention to do it, and in hopes that fear will operate to restrain the enemy.’ I made no threat; the enemy would have regarded it as mere brutum fulmen if I had. When Napoleon wanted to disperse a mob in Paris, he first fired grape-shot, and then blank cartridges. It should be borne in mind that the act for which I retaliated was not done by an irresponsible private, but either by one or several generals. In 1886, I was invited by the G. A. R. in Boston to deliver an address before them. I accepted; my theme was Stuart's cavalry. Major Forbes, whose father, John M. Forbes, was one of the merchant princes of Boston, gave me a dinner at Parker's. James Russell Lowell, the uncle of Colonel Lowell, sat next on my right. Next to Mr. Forbes, on his left, sat Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. Here was an object lesson any one could understand.

This has been written in justice to a great soldier who was my friend, as well as to the men who were actors with me in the great drama along the Shenandoah, and especially to the seven whose [278] names are inscribed on the monument at Front Royal. The granite shaft perpetuates the fame of a glorious band—‘a remnant of our Spartan dead.’ About the affair in which they were sacrificed to the bloody moloch of revenge, I feel now as I have always felt. A Highlander is not asked or expected to forgive or forget Glencoe and Culloden. It will always be a proud satisfaction to me that, in the presence of their executioners, these martyrs did not imitate the despairing cry of the gladiator in the arena—Caesar, morituri salutamus‘—Caesar, we who are about to die, salute thee’—but, with heroic confidence, foretold that they would have an avenger. The prophecy was fulfilled. Those who committed the great crime have not escaped the Nemesis, who adjusts the unbalanced scale of human wrongs.

Called the Furies from the abyss,
And round Orestes bade them howl and hiss.

Jno. S. Mosby. San Francisco, October 31, 1899.

Major Richards Cites authorities for his conclusions.

Richmond, Va., December 3, 1899.
Editor of The Times.
Sir,—In my address at the unveiling of the monument erected at Front Royal to the memory of Mosby's men who were executed after they surrendered, I stated two conclusions drawn from the official records of the war which seem to have attracted particular attention and elicited some discussion. The interest thus evidenced encourages me to give the facts supporting those conclusions.

The Front Royal tragedy occurred on September 23d, 1864. At that time we (lid not know that Mosby's Rangers, embracing only eight companies of cavalry, had attracted, or rather distracted, the attention of General Grant, who was at that time commanding general of the United States armies. But the official records, now published, indicate that he stopped ‘marching on Richmond’ long enough to send explicit instructions to General Sheridan in regard to his campaign against ‘Mosby's men.’ Among the first of these orders was the following:

City Point, Aug. 16, 1864, 1:30 P. M.
Maj.-Gen. Sheridan, Comd., &c., Winchester, Va.:
The families of most of Mosby's men are known and can be [279] collected. I think they should be taken and kept at Fort McHenry, or some secure place, as hostages for the good conduct of Mosby and his men. When any of Mosby's men are caught, hang them without trial.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

This order was received by General Sheridan at 6:30 A. M. on the 17th. Up to that time Sheridan never claimed to have executed any prisoners captured from our command; but it is a significant fact that on the night of the same day he received Grant's order, he replied in the following message:

August 17th, 1864, 9 P. M.
Lt.-Gen. U. S. Grant, Com. Gen. Armies of the U. S.
Mosby has annoyed me and captured a few wagons. We hung one and shot six of his men yesterday.

P. H. Sheridan, Major-General.

This reported execution of our men was purely visionary. It never existed except in the imagination, and it was never heard of except in this dispatch. If he executed any prisoners at that time they were not members of Mosby's command. But the correspondence shows that he was answering General Grant's message containing the order for the hanging of our men; and we can only conjecture his motive for reporting that he had already commenced the hanging. On the next day, August 18th, he received additional instructions from General Grant as follows:

‘If you can possibly spare a division of cavalry send them through Loudoun county to destroy and carry off the crops, animals, wagons, and all men under fifty years of age capable of bearing arms. In this way you will get many of Mosby's men.’

And we find still another letter under date of November 9, 1664, as follows:

Do you not think it advisable to notify all citizens living east of the Blue Ridge to move north of the Potomac all their stock, grain and provisions of every description? There is no doubt about the necessity of clearing out the country, so that it will not support Mosby's gang, and the question is whether it is not better that the [280] people should save what they can. So long as the war lasts they must be prevented from raising another crop, both there and as high up the valley as we can control.

U. S. Grant, General Commander.

General Sheridan, in conducting his part of this correspondence, sent to General Grant three letters dated respectively, August 19th, August 22d and September 11th, purporting to give his progress in ‘exterminating’ Mosby's men, and one under date of September 29th, in regard to the devastation of the country. The letter reads as follows:

September 29, 1864.
Lieutenant-General Grant, Commanding, &c.
This morning I sent around Merritt's and Custer's divisions via Piedmont, to burn grain, &c., pursuaut to your instructions.

P. H. Sheridan, Major-General.

We remember well this ‘drive’ that was made for Mosby's men. The two divisions of Federal cavalry were spread out and swept through our section like a drag net. Every foot of the territory known as ‘Mosby's Confederacy’ was covered. The work of destruction continued day and night. I watched it from a point on the Blue Ridge mountains, where I was bivouacking for the night, on my way to the Valley of Virginia with a few of our men. As far as the eye could see the whole country east of the mountains was lit up by the destroying flames, and the glare was reflected from the sky above. It was a sublime sight to the eye, but a sickening one to the heart. Our one battalion of cavalry was powerless to prevent these two divisions of the enemy from executing their orders.

But Sheridan had been ordered not only to hang our men and devastate our country, but to carry off our families and imprison them in Fort McHenry. He did not execute the order to imprison, and the records are silent as to the reason for this omission. It was not because they were not within his reach, for there was scarcely a family in all that section that did not have some member in Mosby's command. Our lieutenant-colonel had married in Fauquier, and many of the other officers, as well as men, had families within the condemned territory. Had Sheridan directed General Merritt and Custer to arrest them on that burning raid, the order could have [281] been easily executed. It would have been the most severe and cruel blow of all—its paralyzing effect could only be fully realized by those of us whose loved ones were still sheltered by the old homesteads in Loudoun and Fauquier.

But General Grant was essentially a soldier and a great leader. Like General Forrest, of the South, he knew that ‘war meant fighting, and fighting meant killing.’ He was anxious to end the struggle as soon as possible. He had undertaken to capture Richmond and realized the magnitude of the enterprise. He was urging Sheridan to finish up the Valley campaign, so that his troops could be transferred to aid in reducing the Confederate capital. He realized what an obstruction Mosby's men were to the execution of his plans. Under the immediate leadership of their gallant commander, they had destroyed Sheridan's line of communication and compelled him to fall back from his advanced position. The Manassas Gap Railroad could neither be repaired or operated so long as we held our position in Loudoun and Fauquier counties. So the orders went forth for the extermination of ‘Mosby's gang.’ Our men were to be hung, our country devastated by fire, and our families imprisoned.

That General Grant was mis-informed as to the character of our command there can be no doubt. He so states in his published memoirs. General Sheridan had characterized us by the most debasing terms in the military vocabulary. He was fond of referring to us as ‘guerrillas,’ and the like. When we killed two of his staff officers in a fair cavalry fight on the Valley Turnpike in open day, in reporting to General Grant, he said: ‘Guerrillas are annoying me very much. I know of no way to exterminate them except to burn out the whole country and let the people go North or South.’ General Grant only received his information of Mosby's command through others, and no doubt principally through General Sheridan during this period. But after the war he had the opportunity of knowing personally our honored commander, and became his staunch friend. He had already discovered that the command so often reported to him as ‘guerrillas’ was in fact a part of the regularly organized Confederate army, receiving orders from and in many instances reporting directly to General Lee himself. In the hour of victory, General Grant proved himself as magnanimous to Mosby and his men as he was to Lee and his veterans. No sentiment that I uttered in my speech at Front Royal seemed to meet with more approval than that there was no surviving member of Mosby's command who would not gladly place a wreath upon Grant's tomb. [282]

My conclusion that General Custer had not directed the execution of our men at Front Royal has also been the subject of much discussion. But to-day I am more convinced than ever of its correctness. General Torbert was commanding all the cavalry under Sheridan. On September 21, 1864, he had gone up the Luray Valley under orders to cross over to the main valley and attack Early's rear or flank, After a skirmish with an inferior force of Confederate cavalry, he retreated, very much to Sheridan's disgust. He returned through Front Royal on September 23d. His command consisted of two divisions, embracing five brigades. The first division commanded by General Wesley Merritt was in front, marching in the following order: Reserve brigade, Colonel Chas. R. Lowell, Jr., commanding; First brigade, General Custer commanding; Second brigade, General Devin commanding. Captain Chapman, with about eighty of Mosby's men, charged Lowell's advanced guard of one hundred and fifty cavalry. The remainder of the brigade closed in on Chapman's men and captured six of them, but not until one of Lowell's best officers and several of his men had been killed. Our men were executed after they surrendered. None of the reports of the engagement state this fact. It would seem, as Colonel Mosby has since said, that they were ashamed of it. But Colonel Lowell, the brigade commander, reported that he made the fight and ‘killed’ the men. General Merritt, the division commander, reported that Lowell's men fought the skirmish and ‘killed’ the men, and General Torbert reported that Merritt's division had ‘killed’ the men.

We had always thought that General Custer had directed the execution. We had gotten this impression from the citizens of Front Royal. Custer's brigade was marching next to Lowell's, and had arrived before the execution. General Custer was a conspicuous figure, in his velvet uniform, with long golden curls. The citizens of Front Royal had learned to recognize him. Seeing him in their streets at the time, it is not surprising that they should have reported him in command. But it would have violated all military rules for one brigade commander to have taken the prisoners from another brigade commander and ordered their execution, especially when the division commander was in reach.

But, that I might be sure of my conclusion, I have written to Major-General Thomas L. Rosser for a statement. Generals Custer and Rosser were friends before the war, and although they fought on opposite sides, their personal regard for each other was never disturbed. Their friendship was greatly strengthened by their intimacy [283] after the war had ended. The following is General Rosser's answer:

my dear Major,—I saw a great deal of Custer while I was constructing the Northern Pacific R. R., in the Northwest, in the seventies, and had many talks over the war with him; and he often stated that he was in no way responsible for the execution or murder of those men.

I have no doubt of Custer's innocence, for he was not in command, and his superior officer was present; and it is not probable that such a matter would have been turned over to Custer under the circumstances.

Yours most truly,

This statement of General Rosser, supported as it is by the official record, seems to me to be conclusive, and the future historian must exonerate General Custer from the responsibility of the Front Royal tragedy.

E. A. Richards. Louisville, Ky., November 30, 1899.

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