The “Gray Ghost” Disbands His Troops

Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby commanded the 43rd Virginia Cavalry, which used guerrilla warfare. These troops were called “Mosby’s Raiders.” Mosby’s raids on Union supply lines happened quickly and then he disappeared again, earning him the nickname of “The Gray Ghost.”

Mosby wasn’t ready to give up the fight when Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. Requesting a cease-fire, he agreed to meet with Union General Hancock. In the wake of President Lincoln’s assassination, Hancock instead sent Brigadier General George Chapman to the meeting.

Mosby asked that the cease-fire be extended two additional days, which Chapman granted. A further request for a ten-day extension was denied.

Not wanting to surrender, Mosby wrote a letter to his troops. It was read to them on April 21st.  His letter disbanded the unit.

About 380 of his men, including most of the officers, surrendered at Winchester. They signed paroles and kept their horses. Others turned themselves in at Virginia towns.

Because Mosby didn’t surrender, Hancock offered $2,000 for his capture and soon raised it to $5,000.

Mosby hid near his father’s property outside Lynchburg with his brother, William.

A local provost marshal assured William in June that his brother would be paroled if he surrendered. Mosby went to the authorities the next day to find that Union leaders had canceled the offer of parole.

A few days later, General Grant stepped in. Mosby learned on June 16th that he’d be paroled, which happened at following day in Lynchburg.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Conclusion of the American Civil War,”, 2018/03/21

Golden, Kathleen. “Meet John S. Mosby, ‘Gray Ghost’ of the Confederacy, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 2018/03/21

“John Singleton Mosby,” Civil War Trust, 2018/03/21

Plante, Trevor K. “Ending the Bloodshed,” National Archives, 2018/03/21