Monday, October 08, 2007

The Most Desperate Band

From History of the Independent Loudoun Virginia Rangers, U. S. Vol. Cav. (Scouts), by Briscoe Goodhart, Company A, originally published in 1898. Goodhart's memoir is the standard volume for students of the Loudoun Rangers, the only militia raised in Virginia to fight for the Union. It consisted mainly of men from Waterford and Lovettsville, two loyalist border towns.

Goodhart's name now honors a road near Taylorstown.
The close of every twenty-four hours demonstrated most fully and beyond question that the days of the Confederacy were numbered and very few, yet the Confederate bands that inhabited Loudoun grew more desperate in their attitude toward the citizens of that county. It was almost impossible for the citizens to keep horses, as bands of guerrillas would take them. In many cases it was known that this stock was appropriated for their own use, although the Confederate government was directly responsible. As early as April, 1862, that alleged government passed an Act authorizing the recruiting of guerrilla bands, who were to receive compensation for their service from horses and other property taken from Union citizens....

Perhaps the most desperate band of this military banditti was John Moberly's, who belonged to White's command, although he committed most of his atrocious deeds on his own hook. He had become so desperate and such a terror to the citizens that Gen. Stephenson, the commander at Harpers Ferry, found it absolutely necessary to offer a reward for his body. A detail of twelve of the Rangers was ordered to the Loudoun Valley to capture or kill Moberly and his band. The band had, at most, about twelve men, although generally only three or four.

This squad of the Rangers learned where Moberly was expected to be, and endeavored to catch him at that place. They concealed themselves and waited, and it was not long before he approached, coming down the road, with drawn saber, chasing a negro boy who was driving a cart. The boy was badly frightened, which Moberly seemed to enjoy. As he approached, our boys rose to their feet and demanded a surrender. Moberly lay down in in his saddle, put spurs to his swift-footed horse, and, making a sharp turn in the the road, darted out of sight. Every one of our boys fired at him at close range, but did not strike him. We were on foot and could not follow, but returned to camp without the coveted game.
To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Hey Ned,

Is this book online (say, at Gutenberg or some similar site)?


Neddie said...

Not that I can find.

I don't know if you're local, but they sell copies at the used bookstore in Purcellville, and the Lovettsville Museum sells copies too, if you can get there when it's open. I'm sure local libraries will have copies in the Local History section.

Holy crap! Amazon will part with a used copy for a mere $325... (Don't believe this for a second -- it's by no means a rare book!

See also this site, which gives the broad outlines.

Kevin Wolf said...

Just attended a wedding last weekend at an historical hold house in Danvers, Mass. Reason I think of this is that one wall of the anteroom to the bathroom was filled entirely with old Civil War books, detailing regiments and platoons, or what have you. (I'm not hip on the Civil War.) Volumes and volumes, stuff like "Series A, Vol IIL," on the spines. Incredible.

wancopin crick said...

If you would like to peruse the book, there is a copy in the Loudoun Museum's resource library. They also have on display a daguerrotype of Mobberly. Even the age and condition of the image can't hide the wild look in his eyes!

Ghost of Mobberly said...

I made a number of appearances at to bring about my old sabotage and trickery upon the Gang of Five. Watch your tongue, boy.