Tuesday, November 25, 2014

February 1864: "The Gray Ghost" in Ashby's Gap

On February 19, 1864, Lieutenant Birdsall Cornell, of Company I, 1st NJ Cavalry Regiment, wrote a report to The Belvidere Intelligencer from a camp in Warrenton, Virginia.

Cornell wrote, "An expedition to Ashby's Gap yesterday, under the command of Lt. Colonel John W. Kester, of the 1st N.J. Cavalry, resulted in the capture of 31 of [John S.] Mosby's guerrillas, with their arms, equipments, &c., and about 50 horses.  Mosby, the famous guerrilla chieftain, it seems was absent at Richmond, where he has recently been promoted to Lt. Colonel.  The road that leads from Aldie to Winchester passes through Ashby's Gap, and it was at a small village in the Gap, called Paris, that the 'Rebs' were found, and where they have had their headquarters for some time.  One of the prisoners gave it as his opinion that the guerrilla system of warfare would soon be discontinued in this section, and that Mosby's men would be incorporated in the rebel regular army.  I incline to the belief that this statement is correct, as the sentiment of the people generally, in this portion of the state, is opposed to Mosby and his band of ragamuffins, adventurers and thieves.  They are a set of cut-throats and assassins, void of all those manly and chivalric feelings that inspire to noble deeds, are actuated solely by a spirit of avarice and love of gain, and who plunder alike from friend or foe. 

"The Union citizens of Loudon and Fairfax Counties will owe Lt. Col. Kester a debt of gratitude for capturing a considerable portion of their number, and dispersing the rest.  The only casualties on our side, one horse killed and Captain James H. Hart, of Company A, slightly wounded in the arm.  Capt. Hart is from Bucks County, Pa., and is one of the best officers we have."

Copyright 1997-2014: Jay C. Richards

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