Memory of the Gray Ghost Still Rides in Clarke County

Nearly 50 men and women gathered last Saturday to share music, food and stories about the Civil War and one of its most well known combatants, Colonel John Singleton Mosby.

Attendees were treated to well-told presentations and stories about the exploits of Colonel Mosby and his 43rd Virginia Cavalry Battalion of rangers. Much of the discussion described action which took place in and around Clarke County.

Arthur Candenquist is commander of Turner Ashby Camp 1567 Sons of Confederate Veterans in Winchester, Virginia - Photo Edward Leonard

Eric Buckland, author of “Mosby’s Keydet Rangers”, described Mosby as small at only 5’6” and 125 pounds but having a “scrappy personality”.

“He was the quintessential guerilla fighter” Buckland told the audience.

Author Dave Goetz described Mosby’s years after the Civil War and his unlikely friendship with President Ulysses Grant. Goetz’s book “The Post War Relationship of John Singleton Mosby and Ulysses S. Grant” traces Mosby’s increasingly active political life after the end of the War culminating with a visit by then former-President Grant to Hong Kong where Mosby presided as US Consul.

The day long event, “A Day with Mosby Symposium and Benefit, was sponsored by the Turner Ashby Chapter 184 United Daughters of the Confederacy and Turner Ashby Chapter 1567 Sons of the Confederate Veterans to raise funds for a monument to 20 soldiers of the 3rd Arkansas buried in Winchester’s Stonewall Cemetery.

Stonewall Cemetery is located inside the larger Mount Hebron Cemetery.

“Those 20 boys from Arkansas all died from disease waiting to be called for battle” Arthur Candenquist told the group. “They never fired a shot while they were here.”

Candenquist, commander of the Turner Ashby Chapter 1567 camp of Winchester, Virginia along with Kimberly Mauck, president of Turner Ashby 184, are working to raise $4,000 for the monument that will be erected at the 145th consecutive  6th of June Confederate Memorial Service next year.

“The Arkansas men are the only ones in the cemetery that don’t have a monument and we’d like to correct that” Mauck said.

Twenty-six years after the close of the Civil War, 26 veterans who served throughout the Shenandoah Valley met in Winchester to create the local veteran’s association named in honor of Turner Ashby, commander of Stonewall Jackson’s cavalry.

The Turner Ashby Camp was formed on September 28, 1891 and has been meeting ever since.

Luke Brown (l) and James Basye of "South Fork" - Photo Edward Leonard

Turner Ashby was buried at the  University of Virginia  Cemetery, but in October, 1866, his body was reinterred at the Stonewall Cemetery  next to the body of his younger brother Richard Ashby, who had died at  Harpers Ferry  in a skirmish with Union soldiers in 1861.

Stonewall Cemetery holds the remains of nearly 3000 Confederate soldiers from thirteen states. The Ladies Memorial Association, predecessors of today’s Turner Ashby Chapter 184 UDC, established the cemetery in 1866.

Confederate Memorial Day has been honored at the cemetery on June 6th continuously since 1866.

“In 1865 women in Winchester purchased the Stonewall Cemetery site so that soldiers who had been buried throughout the area could have a single resting site” Mauck said.

Mauck said that to become a member of the organization applicants must prove a lineage to a confederate ancestor, or civilian that  gave material aid to the Southern cause. Death, marriage, census, birth, obituaries, photos of  cemetery tombstones, family bible and military records are all acceptable proof.

People who are unable to prove their lineage can  still join as an associate member but may not vote or hold office.

Saturday’s event was filled with stories of battles and courage by Union and Confederate troops alike. Because much of the action took place in Clarke County it was easy to imagine the troops fighting and traversing landscape that has changed little over the last 150 years.

Civil War experts described Mosby assembling 350 rangers in Upperville on April 12, 1964, and the shock that troops guarding a Union supply train north of Berryville must have felt when the rangers swept out of the mist later that morning to burn 75 wagons, capture 200 prisoners and 500 horses.

On April 18, 1865 and again on April 20th, Mosby and a small contingent of his most trusted men rode into Millwood to discuss the terms of his surrender at the end of the War. However, several weeks after General  Robert E. Lee’s surrender,  the Gray Ghost simply disbanded his rangers without ever formally surrendering.

Anyone familiar with Millwood might easily wonder whether Mosby even noticed the same large mill that tourists still enjoy today or whether after the unsuccessful surrender discussions his men left along the road toward the Shenandoah River or headed west toward Winchester.

Colonel John Singleton Mosby

Clarke County and our surrounding area is rich in historic sites, however, pressure from economic and housing development continues to threaten many hallowed sites. Donations to support the work of Turner Ashby #184 may be sent in care of Debbie Thomas,  Treasurer, 541 Kimble Road, Berryville, VA  22611.

For additional information please visit TurnerAshby184.com or TurnerAshbyCamp.com