National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Colonel John S. Mosby was the commander of the Forty-third Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, more commonly known as Mosby’s Rangers. At its peak the command numbered about 400 troopers, but routinely it operated behind enemy lines in bands of 20 to 150 men, mostly at night. Raids were designed to destroy enemy supply trains, disrupt communication lines, and isolate federal troops from their base commands. Mosby’s “Confederacy” was centered in Loudoun and Fauquier counties, where most of the raiders lived. Armed principally with Colt revolvers, the rangers were so effective in their hit-and-run tactics in 1863–64 that the aura of fear they created was itself a weapon. This photograph of Mosby with a cadre of rangers is believed to have been taken in Baltimore, Maryland, after the war.