Execution of Mosby's Rangers

Execution of Mosby's Rangers (HM50W)

Location: Front Royal, VA 22630 Warren County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 56.198', W 78° 11.681'

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"The ?dark day' of 1864"

— Mosby's Confederacy —

"Mosby will hang ten of you for every one of us!"were William Thomas Overby's last words to hisexecutioners before the rope tightened around hisneck here on Richardson's Hill. This was thefinal scene of a tragedy that began less than two hours earlier when Union cavalrymen captured six of Lt. Col. John S. Mosby's Rangers a fewmiles south of Front Royal on September 23,1864. Believing that Mosby's men had killed aUnion officer after he surrendered, the Federals executed them in retaliation.

Capt. Samuel F. Chapman, commanding a detachment of the Rangers, had split his force intwo to attack what he thought was an unguardedambulance train. On discovering that in fact twoUnion cavalry divisions trailed the train, Chapman tried to call off the attack, but it was toolate. The Federals quickly encircled the Rangers;most of them cut their way out and escaped(allegedly killing the captured Union officer inthe process), but six were ridden down and takento front Royal. Gen. Alfred T. A. Torbert, the senior Union officer, probably approved the executions, although Mosby blamed Gen. George A. Custer and promised vengeance on Custer's men.

Four of Mosby's men were shot, but two including Overby were hanged, having refused to reveal the location of Mosby's headquarters. Near Berryville a month and a half later, on November 7, Mosby ordered the execution of seven capturedFederals, most of them from Custer's command, in retribution.

(sidebar) One of the men executed, 17-year-old Henry Rhodes, was not a Ranger but a Front Royalboy who had long dreamed of joining them. When Chapman led his men through town that morning, Rhodes resisted no longer but rode a neighbor's horse into battle. He was captured when his mount collapsed, brought to a field just south of here, and shot downin sight of his mother.
HM NumberHM50W
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByCivil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 1st, 2014 at 5:07am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 743154 N 4313487
Decimal Degrees38.93663333, -78.19468333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 56.198', W 78° 11.681'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 56' 11.88" N, 78° 11' 40.86" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540, 703
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1500 N Royal Ave, Front Royal VA 22630, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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Nearby Markersshow on map
Richardson's Hill
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Guard Hill
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Battle of Front Royal
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Guard Hill Engagement
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Execution of Mosby's Men
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