ITS 100th YEAR

It was September 23, 1899, and all roads led to Front Royal. Over 3,000 people from almost every Southern State and from as far north as New York converged on this small Virginia town to witness the unveiling of a monument erected by the survivors of Colonel John Singleton Mosby's celebrated Rangers in memory of their comrades who had been captured and executed by Federals troops exactly 35 years earlier.

WHAT: Rededication of Mosby's Men Monument

WHEN: September 25, 1999
11:00 a.m.

WHERE:Prospect Hill Cemetery
Front Royal, Virginia

WHO: The public is welcome to attend

CONTACT: Samuel L. Riggs
Mosby Monument Centennial
30 Blue Ridge Avenue
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
(540) 635-5078 (phone/fax)

On that fateful day in 1864, between 80 and 100 Rangers of Mosby's 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry entered the town to disrupt the supply lines of General Phil Sheridan's Valley Army, which at that time was battling Confederate General Jubal Early's Southern forces in the main Shenandoah Valley. This raid against the Yankees was no different than the dozens of other successful raids the Rangers had conducted in the 18 months of their existence. Its ending, however, would be vastly different and would enter the history books as one of the most tragic episodes of a tragic war.

After setting up his ambush and engaging the enemy's ambulance train, Mosby realized that his command was being surrounded by General Wesley Merritt's cavalry division, which was following the ambulances. Mosby immediately initiated a retreat towards Chester Gap; the retreat quickly became a running gunfight. During this action, six of Mosby's Men were unhorsed, captured, and executed without trial. Four of the six were shot before the horrified citizens of the town; the other two were offered their freedom if they would disclose the location of Mosby's headquarters. They refused and were hanged on a walnut tree that stood on a hill just north of town.

Inscription Mosby's Men monument

The true horrors of war came home to to Front Royal that day. Mrs. Sallie Davis-Roy, a child who witnessed the drama, remembered the terror years later: "THE DARK DAY OF 1864 is photographed in my memory," she wrote. "I have often wished I could blot it out, for it clouded my childhood."

Thirty five years later, Mosby's men returned to Front Royal under happier circumstances to dedicate a monument to their fallen comrades. The Ladies' Warren Memorial Association and the William Richardson Camp, United Confederate Veterans, assisted in the preparations for the unveiling. The orator of the day was Judge A.E. Richards, a distinguished lawyer from Louisville, Kentucky, who had served as a major in Mosby's Battalion.

Col. John Singleton Mosby
Colonel John Singleton Mosby

One hundred years later, at 11:00 a.m. on September 25, 1999, Front Royal will mark the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the Mosby Monument in Prospect Hill Cemetery. The Warren Rifles Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (successor of the Ladies' Warren Memorial Association) and the Colonel John S. Mosby Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (successor of the William Richardson UCV Camp) will co-host a centennial celebration of the unveiling.

The guest speaker will be Mr. Horace Mewborn, author of the Virginia Regimental Histories Series volume on the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry, Mosby's Command. The Tuscarora Brass Band will provide authentic music of the period before and after the ceremonies. The President of Virginia Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Mrs. John H. Gum, and the Commander of the Virginia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Mr. Robert W. "Red" Barbour, will welcome and address those attending. Among the many distinquished guests present will be descendants of the men who were executed in Front Royal on September 23rd, 1864.

Following the ceremonies, refreshments and entertainment will be provided at the Warren Rifles Confederate Museum; the museum will be open for all to explore with no admission fee. Transportation will be provided from the public parking lot near the museum to the cemetery before the ceremony and back to the museum after the ceremony.

Thanks to Sam Riggs for supplying the information for this article.

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