Saturday, July 6, 2013

Stab Him With A Saber

John S Mosby
There was a cavalry skirmish known as the Action at Mount Zion Church fought July 6th 1864 near Aldie, Loudoun, Virginia.

As Confederate Colonel John S Mosby and his Rangers approached Leesburg, Virginia he received reports of Union troops under the command of Major William H Forbes in the town.  Mosby and his men spent the night of July 5th 1864 just to the west of Leesburg on the Catoctin Mountain.

The next morning the Union cavalry left riding south to Aldie, Virginia.  At about 6pm on July 6th 1864 they reached the Skinner Farm near Mount Zion Church and stopped to rest for an hour or so.  Once Mosby learned that the Union cavalry had moved and he learned which way they were headed he began to move in a southeasterly direction towards Gum Springs.  Locating Forbes’ force about a half mile away, Mosby had a howitzer brought to the crest of a ridge and advanced skirmishers.  As Mosby’s skirmishers ran into the Union pickets, Forbes was alerted and had his men prepare for a charge.  Sam Chapman who was manning Mosby’s howitzer fired a shot into the Union line, preventing Forbes from charging.  Mosby’s men then charged firing into Forbes’s ranks and sending them into retreat.

Forbes tried to rally his men, and get them reformed in the woods to the southwest of the Pike.  Here again the two cavalries collided into each other and there is a hot close range fight.  During the fight Forbes attempted to stab Mosby with his saber, but another Ranger; Thomas Richards, got between them and took the saber in his shoulder saving Mosby.  Mosby shot Forbes’ horse out from under him, Forbes surrendered and the remaining Union troops retreated.

The fight only lasted an hour.  The Union received 106 casualties including 57 prisoners.  Mosby only lost 7 Rangers.

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