Mosby's Rangers: the 43rd Virginia Cavalry Battalion, C.S.A.

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This narrative is an attempt to record the service of the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Partisan Rangers, C. S. A. Initially, the unit was composed of nine volunteers from Gen. J. E. B. Stuart's 1st Regiment Virginia Cavalry. By March, 1863, Mosby's rangers had won the hearts of the Confederacy in the daring capture of Union Brig. Gen. E. H. Stoughton.

During June, 1863, the first of eight companies was formally organized under the authority of the Partisan Ranger Law. In the ensuing months, the unit concentrated their operations in the Loudoun and Fauquier county areas of northern Virginia. By 1864, the term "Mosby's Confederacy" connotated the influence and span of control tendered by the partisan chief and his command.

Federal troops characterized the partisans as "guerrillas'' and "bushwhackers." Mosoy did not disdain the term "guerrilla,” although he defended the ambush tactic. The Partisan Ranger Law authorized plunder as the spoils of war.

The battalion had no formal camp. Rangers boarded in the homes of Southern sympathizers or in crude lean-tos. They performed scout and reconnaissance duties in the enemy's rear. Mosby's men harassed the Federal lines of communication and supply, thereby diverting Union reinforcements from the front lines.

John S. Mosby was methodical, taciturn, decisive and efficient. Typically, the rangers were twenty-three-year-old farmers who revered their leader and befuddled the enemy.