John S. Mosby, also known as the “Gray Ghost,” was a first-class rabble-rouser who commanded the 43rd Virginia Cavalry Battalion of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.
His unit was a partisan ranger unit known as Mosby’s Raiders (also Mosby’s Rangers and Mosby’s Men), and they were infamous for lightning-fast raids on Union targets and their uncanny ability to elude capture as they repeatedly disrupted Union supply lines and communications. In 1863, a southern spy named Laura Ratcliffe suggested this rock to Mosby as a meeting place where Mosby and his men could convene after conducting raids.
After the war ended, Mosby acknowledged that the Confederacy had lost thethe war even as the vast majority of Confederate officers perpetuated the “Lost Cause” myth. This caused Mosby to be held contemptuously by most of his fellow Virginians. Mosby worked as an attorney, supporting President Ulysses S. Grant. He also served as the American consul to Hong Kong and in the U.S. Department of Justice.
The rock still remains in its original location, but it now backs up to a townhouse development. The Mosby’s Rock plaque was removed at some point during the summer of 2020 and was still missing as of August 2021. The plaque read as follows: “Mosby’s Rangers (43d Bn., Va. Cav.) used this rock as a rendezvous point and met here to divide the spoils after raids. The renowned Southern spy and scout Laura Ratcliffe, who lived nearby, showed this rock to Col. (then Captain) John S. Mosby, CSA, in 1863, and suggested he use it as a meeting place.”
Know Before You Go
The rock is located along the property line with a row of townhouses, so please respect the residents' privacy.