A Student of History

April 23, 2007

Mosby Marker Dedicated

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Wars — John Maass @ 7:30 pm

Mosby Heritage Sign 

The following is from the Mosby Heritage Area Association website:

On a cold January 10th (2007) Mosby historians and interested parties assembled at Loudoun Heights for the dedication of a Virginia State Highway Marker noting the actions of John S. Mosby and his Rangers at Loudoun Heights on January 10, 1864.  A member of the Historic Mosby Rangers from Washington state, representing the group that spearheaded the fundraising efforts to have the marker erected.

Don Hakenson, Mosby historian, gave a moving talk on the action that took place on that January 10th day in 1864.  Mosby and scout Frank Stringfellow had planned a joint attack on Major Henry Cole’s Union forces camped at Loudoun Heights.  A gun shot alerted Cole’s cavalry resulting in Mosby loosing the element of surprise and suffering the loss of six men—his greatest defeat. 

Mr. & Mrs. Jeffrey Edling, who initiated the effort to get the marker placed, were given the honor of unveiling the marker.  Jeff Smith, a Mosby re-enactor, then read the text to the marker for those in attendance.  The ceremony ended with Connie Boudreau giving the benediction.  Members of the Clinton Hatcher Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans were on hand as an honor guard.  Following the ceremony, everyone was invited by the Edling’s to their house, which served as Cole’s headquarters, for a reception.



Mosby’s biography is here, along with a photo.

[I wonder if the marker mentions if he owned slaves?]

1 Comment »

  1. Yes, Mosby was a slave holder and came from a family which owned slaves. But Mosby’s family were yeoman farmers, small landholders who were not at the top of the social scale – except, that is, for his mother’s relatives who came from a more ‘elevated’ strata of society, the McLaurines. Robert McLaurine, an Episcopal minister came to Virginia in 1750.

    John grew up in a strong and loving family of whom the few slaves in the household were a very close part. However, he began to learn about the ills of the institution from a governess hired by his father Alfred to tutor his sisters, one Abbey Southwick, a New England spinster with definite abolitionist sentiments. She engaged the precocious adolescent Mosby in many long discussions and as a man, although he continued to own slaves until the war’s end, Mosby had nothing good to say about that institution. On the other hand, he did not apologize for it either saying that he was born into the system and one could not make judgments about people except within the time period in which they lived. When his family owned slaves, it was considered quite proper and right to do so.

    Mosby’s personal servant, Aaron Burton, was a ‘wedding gift’ from his parents at the time of his marriage to Pauline Clarke, daughter of the Hon. Beverly Clarke. After the war, Mosby kept in touch with Burton and often sent him money even when Mosby in his later years suffered from such dire poverty that he could not afford to purchase tea and so felt ashamed to invite visitors to his small rooms in Washington.

    After the war, Mosby stated bluntly that slavery had been the ’cause’ of the war and that he could think of nothing else that would have brought both sections of the nation to the brink of dis-union. However, that is not exactly correct, but then, it must be remembered that Mosby was a young man at the time of the war (he was born in 1833) and even younger during the decades which led up to it. Many of the other issues which affected the ultimate secession of the South such as tariffs, the ‘centralization’ of power in Washington and other weighty issues that were feeding the sentiment of secession might not have been nearly so clear as the very large issue of slavery.

    Mosby was NOT a secessionist. Indeed, he was very strongly pro-union and voted accordingly, but when Virginia ‘went out’, so did he.

    As for Loudoun Heights, Mosby blamed Stringfellow whom he said for some reason made no effort to capture the Union commander Cole in the house in which he was staying (as had been planned) but instead took the men with him and rode into the camp firing his weapons and waking the Yankees. Of course, not realizing who it was who was firing, and believing it to be Union soldiers who had recognized the assault, Mosby and his men fired at those who were, of course, men of his own command. Many Mosby experts say that the enraged partisan commander sent Stringfellow back to Stuart and never spoke to him again because of this debacle. Rest assured, had Stringfellow and those with him done their part, Loudoun Heights would have been another Mosby triumph. It was, I believe, the last time Mosby went with another man’s plans for any action.

    Comment by Valerie Protopapas — April 24, 2007 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

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