March 8th, 1863.
1st Lieutenant John S. Mosby (who, before the month is out, will be promoted two ranks higher, to major), is commander of the 43rd Virginia Partisan Rangers, operating in northern Virginia. He has established a reputation for bedeviling all Union maneuvers and supply lines near Washington, and has quickly become known as the Gray Ghost of the Confederacy. Mosby’s men wear regulation uniforms and sally forth on raids, then returning to their homes, and blending in with the populace. On this night, he raids Fairfax Court House, far behind Union lines, where he hopes to capture Col. Percy Wyndham, whose cavalry has chased Mosby relentlessly all winter. The other is Brig. Gen. Edwin Stoughton, a young dandy in command of a brigade camped a few miles away. Wyndham, however, has left town earlier, and eludes capture. Mosby’s troop of only 29 men slips into town under cover of darkness, eluding the guards at first, and captures Gen. Stoughton in his nightshirt. Mosby wakes up Stoughton with a slap on his bare backside and asks, “Do you know Mosby?” The Yankee general, still stunned by the spanking and dulled by sleep, asks, “Have you caught him?” Mosby replies, in the dark, “No, but he has caught you.” Altogether, according to his own report, Mosby captures a general, 2 captains, 30 soldiers (although some sources say three times that number), and 58 horses without firing a shot. This caper effectively ends Stoughton’s career in the army, though, even after he is exchanged and able to return back North.