Custer and the Front Royal Executions of 1864

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For the waning months of the war the rival forces confined themselves to killing one another on the battlefield, and not in the stockade. Be that as it may, Mosby actually became a Republican after the war — for which he received some Southern death threats — and lived fifty eventful years. Tags: s , , american civil war , george custer , george patton , john mosby , november 7 , phil sheridan , ulysses s. Lewis Powell is the most interesting figure in all this. Powell was hanged in Washington at the young age of Mosby died in Washington DC at the ripe old age of He was basically healthy, despite several serious wounds, suffered in the Civil War.

He was not destitute, his DC home survives to this day. In his latter years, he was a frequent guest at the Patton Ranch in S California. He would ride the hills and have military discussions with the youthful George S Patton. He died in poverty in Washington DC. Your email address will not be published. It was a rare competence gap for the brilliant cavalryman.

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Willis, parabolically Wilhelm Cauer, but not Helmuth Weidling. Kevin M. Sullivan says:. KYGB says:. Kevin M Sullivan says:.

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The Other Custer and Two Medals of Honor

Execution Playing Cards Exclusively available on this site: our one-of-a-kind custom playing card deck. Every card features a historical execution from England, France, Germany, or Russia! Rude Hill gave Early and his army an unobstructed view of the Union positions and they could see exactly what the Union troops were doing.

Using this method, Early leapfrogged his army as it retreated with each new line providing cover for the troops on the move. Placed before the actual lines of battle were clouds of Confederate skirmishers seeking to delay the Union advance as the Confederate army leapfrogged its way to safety.

Behind the Union cavalry skirmishers came a line of Union infantry skirmishers. Whenever the cavalry skirmishers were 51 Custer and the Front Royal Executions of checked, the infantry skirmishers thereupon reinforced them; meanwhile the Confederate troops kept moving back. Just before the halt, Sheridan made one more attempt to bring the Confederates to battle.

Sheridan was not about to try a night attack, which he knew would be almost impossible for him to control. At the Battle of Chancellorsville in May , such a night attack resulted in considerable confusion, which in turn had led to the wounding and eventual death of Lt. By nightfall, Wickham had managed to disengage his cavalry division and had moved south, camping for the night along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Thus Torbert failed to do what he was supposed to do once again. They halted at midnight, slept for a few hours, and by daybreak were on the move by way of Port Republic.

Lomax and his cavalry were picketing the South Fork at Port Republic and Wickham and his cavalry rejoined the army during the night. It is ironic because Early mistrusted his cavalry arm and did not expect much from it. Sheridan, on the other hand, was one of the few Union generals particularly army commanders who understood the potential of his cavalry and how best to use it.

Sheridan used his mounted troops as a primary striking force much in the same way as 20th and 21st Century military commanders would use armored columns. But, in this instance, Sheridan was let down by his cavalry arm, or rather by the commander of that cavalry arm.

Custer and the Front Royal Executions of 1864 by Jay W. Simson (2008, Paperback)

Mosby the atrocity at Front Royal probably would have become nothing more than a rather obscure American Civil War incident. But Mosby was a natural leader and like any really good military leader he was concerned with the well-being of the men whom he led. Therefore, he was outraged that at least six of his men had apparently been killed, after being taken prisoner, for no better reason than that they were his men. To a certain degree Mosby was as much a military character as Custer. However, he was not a professional soldier.

Stuart and then as Eastern Theater of Operations primary practitioner in the use of guerrilla forces and tactics. From here he could strike east at the defenses of Washington, D. Thus Mosby and his men were ideally positioned astride the lines of communications of any army invading Virginia as it advanced from Washington towards Richmond or attempted to penetrate the Shenandoah Valley.

Personally, Mosby had opposed the war, but when Virginia seceded he marched off to war with his militia company. He eventually joined the 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment, at that time under the command of then Col. He and Stuart got to know each other quite well. They trusted each other explicitly and Mosby was able to persuade Stuart to detach his own self and 15 other soldiers from the 1st Virginia to 53 Custer and the Front Royal Executions of operate behind Union lines.

Mosby began his operations on January 24, Their mission was to serve behind the Union lines in northern Virginia and disrupt Union communications in their rear echelon areas. Edmond H. Stroughton in his headquarters at Fairfax, Virginia. With this success under his belt, Mosby went on to become the most successful, well known and feared commander of guerrilla raiders in the entire Confederacy.

Grant, who got away. Grant stated in his memoirs1 that between March 26 and May 4, , while his headquarters were at Culpeper, Virginia, he traveled to Washington, D. Stanton and President Abraham Lincoln. While returning from the last of these conferences before moving his headquarters, Grant narrowly missed being captured by Mosby. Mosby, commander, 43rd approached Warrenton Virginia Battalion of Partisan Rangers, remained Junction, a heavy cloud convinced to the end of his days that Custer, and of dust was seen to the Custer alone, was responsible for the executions of his six captured rangers at Front Royal Library of east of the road as if Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Upon arriving at the junction the train was stopped and inquiries were made as to the cause of the dust. There was but one man at the station, and he informed us that Mosby had crossed a few minutes before at full speed in pursuit of Federal cavalry. Had he seen our train coming, no doubt he would have let his prisoners escape to capture the train.

I was on a special train, if I remember correctly, without any guard. In person, he was not an imposing man. He was about 5-foot-7 in height and weighed only about pounds, being much like in character and appearance as his Revolutionary War predecessor in South Carolina, Francis Marion, who was known as the Swamp Fox.

The men he chose for the 43rd Virginia were primarily young, courageous men who were superb horsemen. In general they were drawn by the informal come-and-go nature, romance, and prospects of easy plunder. Lee , hamper Union plans in any way possible, and to harry Union outposts and supply lines.

He had a number of advantages over the Union troops which were hunting him and which were attempting to destroy his command. Between raids the inhabitants of the area in which he operated sheltered him and his men. When a raid was planned, his men 55 Custer and the Front Royal Executions of were summoned by word-of-mouth messages to a rendezvous. The line must be stronger at every point than the attacking force, else it is broken. This in part explains his rage when some of his men were executed after being taken prisoner. In particular, he was incensed that at least three of his men had been hanged like common criminals.

The most noted of these included the death of 2nd Lt. John R. About a week after Meigs was killed, Col. Emil Ohlenschlager, medical director for the Army of the Shenandoah, were both shot and killed within Union lines near Newtown, Virginia. Both deaths infuriated the entire Union Army of the Shenandoah. Mosby is on record as saying — regarding the Front Royal Incident — that his constant raids caused the enemy to retaliate by executing some of his men. In his memoirs, which were published over 50 years after the event, Mosby got the date wrong, apparently based upon one of the newspaper accounts upon which he also based, at least in part, his conclusion that Custer and his Michigan Cavalry Brigade were responsible for the executions which may or may not say something about the general accuracy of his memoirs.

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The newspaper account stated that the Front Royal incident occurred on September 22, not September 23, the date upon which it actually did occur. Most probably this was done to incite outrage among the Confederate civilian population at the activities of the Union soldiers in their midst.

At this later point General Wickham met the Yankee force and repulsed it. Anderson, Overby, Love and Rhodes were shot and Carter and one other, whose name our informant did not recollect were hung to the limb of a tree at the entrance of the village Harry Rhodes was quite a youth, living with his widowed mother and supporting her by his labor. His mother entreated them to spare the life of her son and treat him as a prisoner of war, but the demons answered by whetting their sabers on some stones and declaring they would cut his head off and hers too, if she came near.

They ended by shooting him in her presence. The murders were committed on the 22nd day of September, Generals Torbert, Merritt and Custer being present. It is said that Torbert and Merritt turned the prisoners over to Custer for the purpose of their execution. In point of fact, practically all other accounts of the Front Royal Incident agree that it was Overby and Carter who were hung, with the other four being shot.

The newspaper account does not name the source of the claim that Torbert and Merritt had the prisoners turned over to Custer for the purpose of their being executed. She is supposed to have witnessed what happened next from a shuttered window. Her account is interesting in several ways. In addition, she makes absolutely no mention at all of seeing Custer at the scene of the execution.

Mosby also quoted another newspaper account, this one being published by the Richmond Examiner, one of the major newspapers in the Confederate capital.

General Custer’s Religious Experience

One of those hung was a famous soldier named Overby, from Georgia. Again there are several interesting aspects to this report. Furthermore, while some accounts state that the executions took place over a number of hours, and that the hangings even included the playing of a band, the Richmond Examiner account indicates that the executions occurred almost immediately after the men had been taken prisoner. This particular possibility seems much more logically likely.

In any event the two men reportedly refused and then soldiers from the troop of the 2nd U.