"Hurrah for Mosby! I wish I had a hundred like him!" said Confederate Gen.
Robert E. Lee. Lee was exuberant about
Capt. John S. Mosby and his disciplined
band of partisan rangers, who had recently
completed a spectacular and daring raid
behind the federal lines in northern Virginia. The rangers, first formed in January
1863, had bedeviled the Union commanders
of the forces defending Washington for two
months with night raids and surprise
attacks against federal outposts and communications.
At 2:00 A.M. on March 9, 1863, Mosby
and 29 men suddenly appeared in the
town of Fairfax Court House, Va., 10 miles
behind the Union lines. There were thousands of Union troops in the surrounding
camps and many in the town. The night
being dark and rainy, Mosby and his men
had been able to slip past the numerous
outposts and pickets as they approached,
cutting the telegraph wires to prevent
knowledge of their activities from escaping
the town. As his men quietly captured the
guards, Mosby knocked on the door of Gen.
Edwin H. Stoughton's headquarters. The
lieutenant answering the door had no choice but to conduct Mosby to the general's
bedroom, where Stoughton lay asleep in
bed. Mosby awakened Stoughton with a
slap on his behind and informed him that he
was now a prisoner. When Stoughton was
dressed, Mosby escorted him out to the
street, where the rangers had gathered 32
other surprised prisoners and 58 horses.