John Singleton Mosby was born in Edgemont, Virginia, on 6th December, 1833. Brought up near Charlottesville he entered the University of Virginia in 1849. At university he was charged with shooting another student and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. While in prison he studied law and after his release he became a lawyer in Bristol.
On the outbreak of the American Civil War Mosby joined the Confederate Army. At first he served as a private in the 1st Virginia Cavalry and fought at Bull Run. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant in February, 1862, Mosby began scouting for James Jeb Stuart and was responsible for the ride around George McClellan in June.
In January, 1863 Mosby and a team of nine men began attacking isolated Union Army posts in Virginia and Maryland. As captured goods were divided up between the men Union officials regarded Mosby's men as criminals rather than soldiers.
July, 1863, Mosby was given permission to organize his Partisan Rangers. Mosby became an expert in guerrilla warfare tactics and his small unit of a hundred soldiers were very active during the Union Army during the Wilderness campaign. Mosby and his men undermined the enemy's transport system by destroying rail lines and bridges.
In 1865 General Philip Sheridan sent out a hundred men to hunt down Mosby. Within a few months 98 of these men had been killed or wounded. Mosby's military successes earned him promotions to captain, major and finally colonel in December, 1864.
On news of the Confederate surrender, Mosby disbanded his Partisan Rangers and resumed his work as a lawyer. He upset many of his former supporters by joining the Republican Party and backed Ulysses S. Grant for president in 1868.
Mosby served as U.S. consul at Hong Kong (1878-1885) and assistant attorney in the Justice Department (1904-10). He wrote two books about his war experiences: Memoirs of Colonel John S. Mosby (1887) and Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign (1908).
John Singleton Mosby died on 30th May, 1916.