John Singleton Mosby was a small wisp of a man, always restless and absolutely fearless. Raised on a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia, he entered Confederate service in 1861 as a private in Col. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry regiment. Mosby proved such a daring horseman that in January 1863, Stuart detached him to conduct raids in Union held northern Virginia. As a partisan ranger, he was free to choose his targets.
The 29-year-old Mosby gathered two dozen dedicated horsemen and crossed enemy lines. Employing hit-and-run tactics, they struck Federal outposts, stole horses and supplies, captured soldiers, and destroyed equipment. Then one dark rainy night, Mosby made his biggest catch of the war.