150 Years Ago – Capture of Union General E.H. Stoughton

It was 150 years ago on the overnight of March 8-9 that Union General E.H. Stoughton was captured by John Singleton Mosby – as the general was asleep!


John Mosby

Confederate cavalryman John Mosby was known as the “Gray Ghost” for his successes with daring and flamboyant guerilla raids. He was a wanted man.

On this date, Mosby and his gang made a clandestine move behind Union lines at Fairfax County Courthouse, Virginia. Though surrounded by thousands of soldiers, they successfully made it even into the very bedroom of General Stoughton.

Two versions of the story (perhaps both true) say, first – that the general was awakened when Mosby pulled down the blankets and slapped his new captive on his bare butt, and secondly – that Mosby awakened Stoughton by asking, “General, did you ever hear of Mosby?” … to which the response was, “Yes, have you caught him?” The answer, “No, he has caught you!”

The Gray Ghost and his men (total of 30) were able to accomplish this raid without a shot being fired, taking with them 33 men and 58 horses. They alluded capture by moving stealthily through enemy lines. Quite an accomplishment!

Mosby was a colorful character. At age 28 when the War broke out, he had previously shot a fellow student at the University of Virginia. He read law while awaiting trial, for which he was exonerated and released. After the War he would make enemies in the South by supporting the Union efforts at Reconstruction.

About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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