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Take Sides with the Truth

The Postwar Letters of John Singleton Mosby to Samuel F. Chapman

John Mosby

Publication Year: 2007

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.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xii

John Singleton Mosby was, in the words of an acquaintance, “a disturbing companion.” Mosby could be ill-tempered, cantankerous, obstinate, and brusque. He did not welcome disagreement with his views and glared with an icy look at men with whom he was displeased or who had failed him. There...

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pp. 1-6

John Singleton Mosby had practiced law in Bristol, Virginia, for nearly five years when, in the summer of 1860, the twenty-seven-year-old attorney was persuaded to join a newly formed cavalry company.1 The following April the country found itself rendered asunder by civil war, and the new recruits were soon incorporated into the First Virginia Cavalry, commanded by...

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pp. 7-8

The initial idea for this work came out of conversations with an individual I have yet to meet face-to-face but have come to know as a friend and fellow traveler along the road of Civil War history. Joe Bauman of Salt Lake City is a veteran reporter for the Deseret Morning News. Following...

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Forged in Fire: The Friendship of John Mosby and Sam Chapman

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pp. 9-18

Samuel Chapman was a former infantry private and artillery officer when he was assigned to enrollment duties in Fauquier County. And it was here, in January 1863, that the twenty-four-year-old lieutenant first saw John Mosby. Chapman had heard talk about Mosby and his daring exploits—or his...

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The Letters (includes illustrations)

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pp. 19-153

Col. John Mosby served as U.S. consul in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong, having been appointed to the position by President Hayes in early 1879. By the following year he longed for a furlough to return to see his motherless children. But probably due to his revelations of corruption in the consulate service, as well as in the State ...

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pp. 155-156

It is not known if there were more letters from John Mosby to Sam Chapman following the one of April 10, 1916. Seven weeks later, on May 30, Mosby died in Garfield Hospital, Washington, D.C. He was eighty-two years, six months old. The cause of death has been attributed to several...


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pp. 157-160


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pp. 161-166

E-ISBN-13: 9780813127125
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813124278

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2007