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  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.’  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.  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,  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  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  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  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  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  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  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 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,
From out of the cannon's mouth.
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  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  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.