Sunday, June 2, 2013

May 30, 1863

May 30, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 8

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 3
Major John Singleton Mosby, CSA

---Battle of Catlett’s Station -- On this date, John Singleton Mosby, the prodigy partisan cavalry raider, rides his 200 rangers to Catlett’s Station, on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad in central Virginia, where they cut the telegraph wires and prepare an ambush.  Having removed several rails, they lay in wait until the intended train comes by, and it derails promptly.  Mosby opens fire with a small howitzer, and the Federal train escort all flee.  The Rebel troopers loot the train, liberating U.S. mail, as well as a load of fresh fish and delicacies such as candies and oranges.  They fire howitzer shots through the locomotive’s boiler and set the train afire.  Federal cavalry nearby, alerted by the noise, sets off in pursuit: troopers from Michigan, New York, and Vermont, led my Col. William Mann, are involved in a sporadic, running fight.  Several times the Yankees get in front of Mosby, and a shell from the howitzer scatters them and opens up the way again.  One officer in blue is going to let them escape, believing he has too few troops to stop the Rebels, when his subordinate, Lt. Elmer Barker, without orders, orders the troop to give chase.  When Baker and his two dozen troopers catch up with Mosby, the Rebels replies with a round of canister that hits nearly ten of Barker’s men.  The Rebels charged into Barker’s line, and it breaks.  But the cordon of Yankee troopers in the neighborhood is drawing tighter around them, were guiding by the sounds of the battle.  A force of Vermonters under Col. Mann crashes into Mosby’s flank, and the howitzer is fired at the Federals until it runs out of ammunition, so the battle devolves into a hand-to-hand fight.  The Rebel raiders beat off the Yankee attack, after losing two killed and another handful wounded, and make good their escape.  In the gathering darkness, Mosby’s battalion disperses and dissolves into countryside.

Mosby (in plumed hat) and some of his Partisan Rangers

---Gen. Robert E. Lee reorganizes the Army of Northern Virginia, splitting Jackson’s old corps and making three.  In command of the I Corps would remain Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, Lee’s “old war horse”; the division of Lafayette McLaws, John Bell Hood, and George Pickett are under his command. 

The II Corps will be commanded by newly-promoted Lt. Gen. Richard B. Ewell, widely renowned as an aggressive and savvy battlefield commander, recently recovered from having lost his left leg at 2nd Bull Run.  The II Corps will consist of the divisions of Robert Rodes, Jubal A. Early, and Edward Johnson. 

The new III Corps, now commanded by the newly-promoted Ambrose Powell Hill, consists of the divisions of Richard Anderson and Dorsey Pender, along with part of Hill’s old division, now commanded by Henry Heth.  Stuart’s cavalry division is organized into five brigades.


  1. I think that the raids of Mosby would make a great movie. I did google Mosby to learn more about him. Apparently, he was known as the Gray Ghost. He was so quick that the Union troops could never catch him. From reading text books on the Civil War you don't really learn about the Rebel, or even Union, raids.

    Jory Johnson

  2. True, you don't learn much. There are a few books on Mosby himself, and on cavalry raids in general.