Sleeping Union General Captured, Humiliated. Confederates Resolute, but Spirits are Down

March 8, 1863/2013
Volume 4, Issue 10 (126 Issues Since 15 October 2010)
March 8, 1863. Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton, of the 2nd Vermont Brigade, was captured from his bed in Fairfax Courthouse, VA, by Confederate Ranger Major John S. Mosby; Mosby also captured twenty men and 55 horses. Lincoln remarked that while he could make more generals with the stroke of a pen, good horses cost $100 a piece. Stoughton was replaced with General George Stannard, who, at Gettysburg four months later, threw his brigade at Pickett’s right flank, thus stopping Pickett’s Charge.– Submitted by Grant Reynolds, Tinmouth, Vermont
Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby, courtesy Library of Congress

Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby, courtesy Library of Congress

Mosby’s raiders, write historians Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, “kept alive a spark of romance with their daring and immediately legendary guerrilla exploits. Not only did Mosby’s raids accomplish significant military ends (one historian believes that, by diverting Grant’s strength, his actions significantly prolonged the life of the Confederacy), the ‘Gray Ghost’ had a certain style.

“. . . [But] panache alone is not enough to win a war, of course, and by the time of the Wilderness Campaign, as Confederate artilleryman Robert Stiles reluctantly observed, the spirit of the beleaguered Southern army was showing signs of strain. Stiles talked to a friend who had just returned from furlough and had spent the night with an infantry regiment that ‘contained many of his former schoolmates and friends and neighbors’:’He did not detect any depression or apprehension of disaster or weakness of pluck or purpose; but he says he did miss the bounding, buoyant spirit . . .’. . . if one army outnumbers another more than two to one, and the larger can be indefinitely reinforced and the smaller not at all, then if the stronger side will but make up its mind to stand all the killing the weaker can do, and will keep it so made up, there can be but one result.

‘Billy says the realization of this new order of things did not affect the resolution of the men, but that it did affect their spirits. I can only say I believe he is exactly correct.'”

Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, My Brother’s Face, 111.

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Filed under Civil War Book of Days: 1863

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