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Hunting the Gray Ghost

Drive or Click Your Way Through Five Fascinating Interactive Tours of 'Mosby's Confederacy'

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One hundred and fifty years ago on the winding back roads in Northern Virginia’s Mosby Heritage Area, America’s ultimate cat-and-mouse game was played out during the last two years of the Civil War between the Rangers of John Singleton Mosby (the Gray Ghost) and their Federal pursuers. Today, the region Mosby dominated is largely intact and may be the best preserved antebellum landscape left in America. Here you can hunt “the Gray Ghost” in the places that defined his territory. Whether you choose to drive or click your way through our vividly illustrated "Hunting the Gray Ghost" Interactive Tours, you'll enjoy the journey, accompanied by appropriately haunting background music. 

Tips for Your Driving Tour: Due to sparse cell phone signals in the rural Mosby Heritage Area, we recommend you load the tours on your tablet or mobile phone before you take it out on the road. We also recommend you view the tours in "Full Screen Mode," which is accessible by clicking the little square icon at the bottom right at any point during the tour. To go back to "Normal Mode," simply press the Escape key on your device.

Tip for Your Armchair Tour: Click on the title links or photos below to go to the presentations.

Tour 1: The Mosby Mystique

Here in front of this plain 1851 Primitive Baptist Church, below, at the intersection of the Carolina Road and Little River Turnpike, Mosby and 15 Rangers held their first "rendezvous" before a raid early on the morning of January 28, 1863, in eight inches of snow. The tour continues to Aldie Mill, Mosby's Hill, Middleburg and the Red Fox Inn, and Rector's Crosswords, ground zero of the Mosby operation.

Tour 1: The Mosby Mystique

Tour 1: The Mosby Mystique

Tour 2: Cat and Mouse in Mosby's Confederacy

In this tour you'll explore two key aspects of the Mosby story: 1) the efforts by the federal government to capture the Confederate govenment-sanctioned partisan Rangers and 2) civilian involvement with the Gray Ghost. The local citizenry, for example, provided"safe houses" for the Rangers. Welbourne, below, boarded Rangers Johnny DeButts, D. French Dulany, Boyd M. Smith, and Lieutenant Thomas Turner. DeButts once was hidden in an upstairs featherbed when Union cavalry arrived; the owner's three children piled on top of him pretending to be asleep. The tour includes several more safe houses and the flyspeck village of Scuffleburg, now just three houses, that became an ideal backroads meeting place for the Rangers.

Tour 2: Cat and Mouse in Mosby's Confederacy

Tour 2: Cat and Mouse in Mosby's Confederacy

Tour 3: A Different Kind of War

In Tour 3, A Different Kind of War, you'll explore the brutal change in the nature of war in northern Virginia as federal forces lost patience with Mosby’s guerilla operation and began to take extreme measures. These actions were returned by Mosby’s command, “measure for measure.” This tour, which includes Piedmont Station (now Delaplane, below), is not for the faint of heart.

Tour 3: A Different Kind of War

Tour 3: A Different Kind of War

Tour 4: Mosby at the End of the War and Adjusting to the Postwar South

In this tour you'll explore the Mosby story at the end of the Civil War, when the Rangers disbanded his Ranger command on April 21, 1865, at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, below, near Piedmont Station (Delaplane). In historic Warrenton, another tour stop, you will see some of the finest of Virginia’s architecture amidst memories of Mosby’s Confederacy. Here, the Gray Ghost returned to the practice of law and became actively involved in political life as a friend of President Grant and a member of the Republican party. Mosby and his family are buried in the Warrenton cemetery.

Tour 4: Mosby at the End of the War and Adjusting to Postwar South

Tour 4: Mosby at the End of the War and Adjusting to Postwar South

Tour 5: Hunting the Gray Ghost in Northern Loudoun

In Tour 5, you'll begin in Mosby’s Confederacy at Atoka and travel up into adjacent Unionist country in the northern part of Loudoun County. Here, Quakers and German-Virginians tried to keep their heads down and endure the war, but many harbored Union sympathies. They seldom held truck with slavery. Mosby saw northern Loudoun as a ready source of forage for his command. Federal forces ultimately made these farmers and villagers, caught between North and South, pay a high price by bringing the wrath of fire upon their countryside in November and December of 1864. The tour ends at the village of Goose Creek, now Lincoln, deep in the heart of Quaker country and near the site of Mosby's ambush at "Katy's Hollow", below.

Tour 5: Hunting the Gray Ghost in Northern Loudoun

Tour 5: Hunting the Gray Ghost in Northern Loudoun