John Singleton Mosby's Cavalry Jacket and Hat

John Singleton Mosby's Cavalry Jacket and Hat

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Physical Description
Double-breasted gray wool shell jacket with buff facings. Adorned with brass muffin buttons. Gray felt slouch hat trimmed in grosgrain ribbon. The style would become known as a Mosby hat.
Specific History
This slouch hat was worn by John Mosby when he was wounded by federal cavalry in December 1864. According to Virgil Carrington Jones, author of Grey Ghosts and Rebel Raiders, this hat was left behind in a house in Rector’s Cross Roads, Virginia. Forty years later, Sarah Halstead, the daughter of a 13th New York Cavalry officer, returned the hat to Mosby. A few days after it arrived, Mosby went to the White House and presented the hat to President Theodore Roosevelt.
General History
Confederate cavalry leader John Mosby is among the most romantic characters in the Civil War, with good reason. From 1863 to the end of the conflict, Mosby's raiders were a constant headache for the North. The raiders usually acted in small detachments of several dozen, though more than 1,000 men served under Mosby. They sacked supply depots, attacked railroads, and harassed federal troops. They seemed to move behind enemy lines almost at will. Their most celebrated exploit occurred when Mosby himself rode into Fairfax Station, Virginia, in the dead of night and kidnapped a Union general.
Object Name
jacket, shell
Mosby, John Singleton
Physical Description
wool (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 21 1/2 in x 15 1/2 in x 24 in; 54.61 cm x 39.37 cm x 60.96 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Charles W. Russell
Civil War
Civil War and Reconstruction
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military
Price of Freedom
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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"Here's more detail about how Colonel Mosby lost his hat - from my book 'Mosby's Raids in Civil War Northern Virginia': [Gen. Phil] Sheridan never let up in his attempt to capture Mosby or destroy his means of support. A Union cavalry raid under General Alfred Torbert from December 19 to 28 [1864] went through Mosby’s Confederacy and succeeded in wounding and capturing—momentarily—the Gray Ghost. A force from Fairfax Court House consisting of a thousand men and horses under Lieutenant Colonel David R. Clendenin, Eighth Illinois Cavalry, rode through Thoroughfare Gap and on December 21 reached the Plains and divided. Clendenin took four hundred men north toward Aldie and sent Major Douglas Frazar, Thirteenth New York Cavalry, west toward Rectortown with six hundred men. He directed Frazar to turn north from Rectortown and ride that evening to Rector’s Cross Roads, reuniting with him around midnight in Middleburg. Frazar’s column arrived at Rectortown in the early evening and dismounted to make fires and cook supper. When Mosby received word of Frazar’s approach, he was two miles on the other side of Rectortown, at the home of Clotilda Carter, attending the wedding of one of his men, Jacob “Jake” Lavinder, to Judith Edmonds. Without interrupting dinner, Mosby and Thomas R. Love excused themselves and went to reconnoiter. The weather was freezing rain, with the wind making it seem even colder. Mosby and Love saw that Frazar’s men had built fires and assumed they were camping for the night. Mosby sent word for his men at the wedding to prepare to harass Frazar’s column in the morning, while he and Love rode north toward Rector’s Cross Roads to spread news of tomorrow’s gathering. Four miles along, they saw a light at Ludwell Lake’s house, and Mosby thought of the Lake’s home-cooked meals and warm hospitality; he told Love they would stop and eat. Love offered to stand watch outside, but Mosby said there was no danger. He felt so secure that he and Love left their revolvers on their horses, tied at the front gate. At home were Lud and his two daughters, Sara Lake and Landonia “Donie” Skinner, and Donie’s two children asleep upstairs. Donie was married to Ben Skinner, one of the Rangers who had been captured and was being held at the Northern prison camp at Point Lookout in Southern Maryland. She had recently returned from visiting her husband and gave Mosby a report on him. At about 9:00 p.m., Mosby heard horses, rose from the table, opened the back door and saw the house was surrounded by Union cavalry. Frazar had not camped as expected in Rectortown but had resumed his march, taking the same road Mosby and Love had taken. His advance guard had seen the two horses at the front gate and encircled the house. At that moment, several Union cavalrymen came in the front door. Mosby’s new hat, cape and overcoat lay in a corner. The jacket he wore had the two stars of a lieutenant colonel. He raised both hands to cover the insignia and in response to their questions of his name and regiment, responded, “Lieutenant Johnston, Sixth Virginia Cavalry.” For the first time since 1862, he was captured. Then a strange thing happened that Pauline believed was a miracle in answer to her prayers, divine intervention invoked by the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) medallion she had hung around his neck when he left for the war. Suddenly, the horsemen in the backyard began firing their carbines, and a bullet came through a window, striking Mosby in the abdomen. “I am shot!” he shouted, not from pain, for he felt only a stinging sensation, but to create panic. To avoid being shot themselves, the Yankees ran back out the front door, overturning the table and putting out the candle. Mosby’s wound was bleeding. He stumbled into the adjoining bedroom, took off his coat with the insignia and stuffed it under a bureau. He then lay down and began to give an imitation of a man about to die. He put his hand to his wound and smeared the blood over his mouth, giving the appearance of a man suffering from a mortal internal wound. He hoped his quick thinking would prevent his capture. Frazar came in with two other officers and asked who he was. Again he answered, “Lieutenant Johnston, Sixth Virginia Cavalry.” Frazar told him he needed to examine the wound, to see whether to take him in, and Mosby had no objection. Frazar found that a bullet had entered the abdomen about two inches below and to the left of the navel, a wound that he felt was mortal. On his way out, he remarked to Ludwell, “He will die in twenty-four hours.” One of the other soldiers stripped Mosby of his pants and boots. It appears that Pauline was sagacious in her later comments. Mosby’s deliverance still seems miraculous. The bullet had entered the abdomen but traveled above the fibrous tissue just under the skin and deflected, passing around the abdomen to the right side. Frazar wrongly assumed that the bullet had penetrated the membrane lining the abdominal and pelvic wall, thus entering the viscera, leading to peritonitis, usually resulting in death in twenty-four hours. Surgeons today, familiar with gunshot wounds to the stomach, estimate that only 5 percent of similar gunshot wounds deflect like Mosby’s. As soon as the Yankees left, Lake said, “We have to get Mosby out of here. I don’t want my house burned down and that is what they will do if they come back and find him here.” Mosby was wrapped in quilts, placed in an ox cart and taken to Aquilla Glascock, about a mile and a half to the southwest. Ranger George Slater was boarding there and helped bring Mosby out of the sleet to lie near the fireplace. Slater had been with Jeb Stuart in May when Stuart had been shot in his abdomen and died twenty-seven hours later. Mosby asked Slater to examine his wound and see if it was similar to Stuart’s. Slater did and accurately said that this wound was different, passing around Mosby’s body. The next morning, Mosby’s surgeon, William Dunn, administered chloroform and extracted the bullet. Mosby remained in bed, but his men moved him continually. He was still in the area on December 27 when Torbett’s cavalry came through on their return march. Sheridan had learned that Mosby had been wounded and told his men to search thoroughly for the downed guerrilla chief. No one in the area would say a word. The next day Frazar came through with three hundred men and checked under every bed and in every chicken coop.

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