Mosby’s War Reminiscences

Signature of John S Mosby. Taken from Mosby's ...

Signature of John S Mosby from his Farewell Address to his Rangers. 

John S. Mosby is not usually thought of as one of the dominant writers of Southern post-war Lost Cause mythology. He doesn’t fit the usual mold. Unlike Jubal Early who went into exile, Mosby stayed in Virginia and had a close working relationship with Grant after the war. Still, Mosby’s War Reminiscences contain most of the usual Lost Cause tropes. In fact they may be some of the best examples of Lost Cause rhetoric. Mosby spent the better part of the war operation in Northern Virginia, usually behind the Union lines, disrupting communications and supplies. He was so successful that he achieved mythic status even in the North. His tales of cleverness vs. stupidity, small band of morally superior men vs. mass of unthinking drones, and human invention vs. industrial technology are largely backed up by official records. As his partisan group was almost always small, the stories of Mosby’s rangers are on a human scale. The characters all have names and their deeds all had tangible results making them easily stand out in comparison with the confusion of battles with tens and hundreds of thousands of soldiers. The stories are all dramatic, heroic and against the odds. Many of the roads, towns and buildings still exist today providing a contemporary touchstone for remembering them. I don’t know if Mosby intentionally set out support the myth of the Lost Cause, but his deeds and writings are perhaps the most perfect example of them.


~ by severalfourmany on January 27, 2013.

One Response to “Mosby’s War Reminiscences”

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