- What we think about John Singleton Mosby is a mixture of what he did on the battlefields of the Civil War and the myth-making that occurred during and after the war. In this post, author Ed Caudill talks about his book on this expert image-maker.
What is real, and what just exists in our mind’s eye, about our past?
Those were the questions two journalism historians had when they took on John Singleton Mosby, the famous Gray Ghost of the Confederate Army. What they produced is an insightful and interesting book titled The Mosby Myth: A Confederate Hero in Life and Legend.
Paul Ashdown and Ed Caudill (two colleagues and good friends) were fascinated by the fact that Mosby, a minor character in the gigantic events that occurred in America between 1861 and 1865, should have such a large place in the consciousness of America. Mosby is said to be the most famous non-general to emerge from the smoke of the war.
Even before the war ended, Mosby and his “raiders” had gained an outsized reputation due not just to their courageous exploits but also because of Mosby’s careful attention to his own image. Ulysses Grant once ordered that they be executed immediately if they were caught.