Take Sides with the Truth: The Postwar Letters of John Singleton Mosby to Samuel F. Chapman
During the Civil War, John Singleton Mosby led the Forty-third Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, better known as Mosby’s Rangers, in bold and daring operations behind Union lines. Throughout the course of the war, more than 2000 men were members of Mosby’s command, some for only a short time. Mosby had few confidants (he was described by one acquaintance as “a disturbing companion”) but became close friends with one of his finest officers, Samuel Forrer Chapman. Chapman served with Mosby for more than two years, and their friendship continued in the decades after the war. Take Sides with the Truth is a collection of more than eighty letters, published for the first time in their entirety, written by Mosby to Chapman from 1880, when Mosby was made U.S. consul to Hong Kong, until his death in a Washington, D.C., hospital in 1916. These letters reveal much about Mosby’s character and present his innermost thoughts on many subjects. At times, Mosby’s letters show a man with a sensitive nature; however, he could also be sarcastic and freely derided individuals he did not like. His letters are critical of General Robert E. Lee’s staff officers (“there was a lying concert between them”) and trace his decades-long crusade to clear the name of his friend and mentor J. E. B. Stuart in the Gettysburg campaign. Mosby also continuously asserts his belief that slavery was the cause of the Civil War—a view completely contrary to a major portion of the Lost Cause ideology. For him, it was more important to “take sides with the Truth” than to hold popular opinions. Peter A. Brown has brought together a valuable collection of correspondence that adds a new dimension to our understanding of a significant Civil War figure.
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1914 The Gilder 43rd Battalion American History appointment April Army asked Autograph letter signed Beck Bedford brother Brown captured Cavalry Chap Colonel Mosby Confederate courtesy Covington Custer Daniel Department of Justice Dolly Richards election Forbes former Ranger Forty-third Battalion Fount Front Royal Gettysburg campaign Gilder Lehrman Collection Gilder Lehrman Institute Grant Henry Stuart Hong Kong Hugh McIlhany Institute of American Joe Bryan John Mosby John Singleton Mosby Josie June Justice Washington Dear Keen and Mewborn Lee’s Lynchburg Mosby wrote Mosby’s command Mosby’s Fighting Parson Mosby’s Rangers Mosby1 Otto Walter postmaster President published rec’d recd returned reunion Revercomb Richmond Russell Sam Chapman Sam’s San Francisco Senator sent Sheridan speech Staunton told Tom Richards truly Jno U.S. marshal Union veteran Virginia vote Walter Beck Warrenton week William Chapman William Extra Billy Willie Woodrow write yesterday York Yost
Page 27 - The sectional unity of the Southern people has been the governing idea and bane of their politics. So far from its being the remedy for anything, it has been the cause of most of the evils they have suffered. So long as it continues, the war will be a controlling element of politics; for any cry in the South that unites the confederates reechoes through the North, and rekindles the war fires there.
Page 23 - Though my perishing ranks should be strewed in their gore, Like ocean-weeds heaped on the surf-beaten shore, Lochiel, untainted by flight or by chains, While the kindling of life in his bosom remains, Shall victor exult, or in death be laid low, With his back to the field, and his feet to the foe ! And leaving in battle no blot on his name, Look proudly to heaven from the death-bed of fame.
Page 10 - Chapman had passed through so many fights unscathed that the men had a superstition that he was as invulnerable as the son of Thetis. His hour had come at last, and a bullet pierced the celestial armor of the soldier-priest; but he fought with the rammer of his gun as he fell. He lived to pay the debt he contracted that day. 'For time, at last, sets all things even.