Auction Closing: March 30, 2024 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time
Lot Number: 190
Estimate Range: $3,500 - $4,500
c. 1860s John Singleton Mosby Oil Painting on Tent Canvas of the “Gray Ghost” Confederate Army Cavalry Commander

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c. 1860s Civil War Period, Oil Painting on Tent Canvas of John S. Mosby, aka "Gray Ghost" (1833-1916), Confederate Army Cavalry Battalion Commander, Naive / Folk Art Style, Painted and Artist Signed by Confederate Veteran “Hiram Grandville,” Choice Very Fine.

Rare Virginia connection, Oil Painting on “Tent” Canvas of the Confederate South's famous "Gray Ghost," John S. Mosby (1833-1916). Mosby is depicted here wearing his Confederate double-breasted military tunic with its Cavalry-yellow standing collar and with two stripes, indicating the rank of First Lieutenant at that time. It is known that John S. Mosby served the Confederacy with that First Lieutenant rank from April 1862 until March 1863, while acting as Aide-de-Camp to Confederate Major General J.E.B. Stuart. This Oil Painting is Signed, "Hiram Grandville" at lower right and is further identified by some painted text at the lower right corner which reads, "FIRST LEUTENENT (sic) JOHN S. MOSBY FIRST VIRGINIA. Little is known about the artist Hiram Grandville, except he was a Confederate Army Veteran from either Texas or New Mexico and that he painted in the 1860s into the early 1870s.

Mosby’s command, the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, known as “Mosby's Rangers” or “Mosby's Raiders”. It was a Partisan Ranger unit noted for its lightning-quick raids with guerrilla warfare tactics, and its ability to elude Union Army pursuers and disappear, often blending in with local farmers and townsmen. The area of Northern Virginia in which Mosby’s Raiders operated with impunity came to be known during the Civil War and ever since as “Mosby's Confederacy”. Throughout Northern Virginia, the Raiders had actions near the Shenandoah Valley, possibly even in Winchester. Mosby's tactics often involved targeting Union supply lines, disrupting communications, and harassing Union forces through hit-and-run attacks.

Offered is a historic 1860s Civil War period “Folk Art” Oil Painting. Mosby’s Bust Portrait was certainly accomplished within the period of or soon following the Civil War. Indeed, it was painted by a well known Confederate Veteran on TENT CANVAS, measuring 27” x 21" (by sight), housed in a 33” x 27" later, yet vintage, wood frame with decorative gilt bevel. There is some irregular staining to the canvas and along the bottom as shown, with 1/2’ minor damage from rub at lower center, along with a minor split in the canvas below. There is some evidence of minor conservation on its verso. Overall, a fine “Naive” or “Folk Art” style by a known artist historic Confederate Portrait Painting.

Another collection of CSA artist Grandville’s paintings, including similar Painted Portraits of Jefferson Davis and Mosby, together with Robert E. Lee, Stuart, Johnston, and Jackson, are found in the personal collection of the well-known collector Paul DeHaan. DeHaan had purchased his collection of paintings many decades ago from a Tennessee collector - where some of the paintings are actually dated in the 1860s. An original Signed Oil Painting by Confederate Veteran and artist “Hiram Grandville” on Tent Canvas.
John Singleton Mosby (December 6, 1833 - May 30, 1916), also known by his nickname, the "Gray Ghost", was a Confederate Army Cavalry Battalion Commander in the American Civil War.

His command, the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, known as “Mosby's Rangers” or “Mosby's Raiders”, was a Partisan Ranger unit noted for its lightning-quick raids and its ability to elude Union Army pursuers and disappear, blending in with local farmers and townsmen. The area of northern central Virginia in which Mosby operated with impunity was known during the war and ever since as Mosby's Confederacy.

After the war, Mosby became a Republican and worked as an attorney and supported his former enemy's commander, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. He also served as the American Consul to Hong Kong, and in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Military career in the American Civil War:

1861 Mosby spoke out against secession, but joined the Confederate army as a private at the outbreak of the war. He first served in William "Grumble" Jones's Washington Mounted Rifles. Jones became a Major and was instructed to form a more collective "Virginia Volunteers", which he created with two mounted companies and eight companies of infantry and riflemen, including the Washington Mounted Rifles. Mosby thought the Virginia Volunteers lacked congeniality, and he wrote to the governor requesting to be transferred. However, his request was not granted. The Virginia Volunteers participated in the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) in July 1861.

In April 1862, the Confederate Congress passed the Partisan Rangers Act which "provides that such partisan rangers, after being regularly received into service, shall be entitled to the same pay, rations, and quarters, during^ their term of service, and be subject to the same regulations, as other soldiers." By June 1862, Mosby was scouting for J.E.B. Stuart during the Peninsular Campaign, including supporting Stuart's "Ride around McClellan".

He was captured on July 20 by Union cavalry while waiting for a train at the Beaverdam Depot in Hanover County, Virginia. Mosby was imprisoned in the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. for ten days before being exchanged as part of the war's first prisoner exchange. Even as a prisoner Mosby spied on his enemy. During a brief stopover at Fort Monroe he detected an unusual buildup of shipping in Hampton Roads and learned they were carrying thousands of troops under Ambrose Burnside from North Carolina on their way to reinforce John Pope in the Northern Virginia Campaign. When he was released, Mosby walked to the army headquarters outside Richmond and personally related his findings to Robert E. Lee.

After the Battle of Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, Mosby and his senior officer J.E.B. Stuart led raids behind Union lines in Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, seeking to disrupt federal communications and supplies between Washington D.C. and Fredericksburg, as well as provision their own forces. As the year ended, at Oakham Farm in Loudoun County, Virginia Mosby gathered with various horsemen from Middleburg, Virginia who decided to form what became known as Mosby's Rangers.

In January 1863, Stuart, with Lee's concurrence, authorized Mosby to form and take command of the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry. This was later expanded into Mosby's Command, a regimental-sized unit of partisan rangers operating in Northern Virginia. The 43rd Battalion operated officially as a unit of the Army of Northern Virginia, subject to the commands of Lee and Stuart, but its men (1,900 of whom served from January 1863 through April 1865) lived outside of the norms of regular army cavalrymen.

The Confederate government certified special rules to govern the conduct of partisan rangers. These included sharing in the disposition of spoils of war. They had no camp duties and lived scattered among the civilian population. Mosby required proof from any volunteer that he had not deserted from the regular service, and only about 10% of his men had served previously in the Confederate Army.

In March 1863, Mosby conducted a daring raid far inside Union lines near the Fairfax County courthouse. He and his men captured three Union officers, including Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Stoughton. Mosby wrote in his memoirs that he found Stoughton in bed and roused him with a "spank on his bare back." Upon being so rudely awakened the general indignantly asked what this meant. Mosby quickly asked if he had ever heard of "Mosby". The general replied, "Yes, have you caught him?" "I am Mosby," the Confederate ranger said. "Stuart's cavalry has possession of the Court House; be quick and dress." Mosby and his 29 men had captured a Union general, two captains, 30 enlisted men, and 58 horses without firing a shot. Mosby was formally promoted to the rank of captain two days later, on March 15, 1863, and major on March 26, 1863.

On June 10, 1863, Mosby led 100 men on a raid across the Potomac River to attack the Union camp at Seneca, Maryland. After routing a company of the Sixth Michigan Cavalry and burning their camp, Mosby reported the success to J.E.B. Stuart. This drew Stuart's attention to Rowser's Ford. Mosby had crossed the Potomac there, and during the night of June 27 Stuart's forces would use the same crossing while separated from Lee's army, and thus didn't arrive at Gettysburg until the afternoon of the second day of the battle. Thus, some analysts claim Lee stumbled into the battle without his cavalry, partly because of Mosby's successful skirmish at Seneca three weeks earlier.

Mosby endured his first serious wound of the war on August 24, 1863, during a skirmish near Annandale, Virginia, when a bullet hit him through his thigh and side. He retired from the field with his troops and returned to action a month later.

The partisan rangers proved controversial among Confederate army regulars, who thought they encouraged desertion as well as morale problems in the countryside as potential soldiers would favor sleeping in their own (or friendly) beds and capturing booty to the hardships and privations of traditional military campaigns. Mosby was thus enrolled in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States and soon promoted to lieutenant colonel on January 21, 1864, and to colonel, December 7, 1864. Mosby thus carefully screened potential recruits, and required each to bring his own horse.

Mosby endured a second serious wound on September 14, 1864, while taunting a Union regiment by riding back and forth in front of it. A Union bullet shattered the handle of his revolver before entering his groin. Barely staying on his horse to make his escape, he resorted to crutches during a quick recovery and returned to command three weeks later.

Mosby's successful disruption of supply lines, attrition of Union couriers, and disappearance in the disguise of civilians caused Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to tell Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan:

The families of most of Moseby's men are know[n] and can be collected. I think they should be taken and kept at Fort McHenry or some secure place as hostages for good conduct of Mosby and his men. When any of them are caught with nothing to designate what they are hang them without trial.

On September 22, 1864, Union forces executed six of Mosby's men who had been captured out of uniform (i.e. as spies) in Front Royal, Virginia; a seventh (captured, according to Mosby's subsequent letter to Sheridan, "by a Colonel Powell on a plundering expedition into Rappahannock") was reported by Mosby to have suffered a similar fate.

William Thomas Overby was one of the men selected for execution on the hill in Front Royal. His captors offered to spare him if he would reveal Mosby's location, but he refused. According to reports at the time, his last words were, "My last moments are sweetened by the reflection that for every man you murder this day Mosby will take a tenfold vengeance." After the executions a Union soldier pinned a piece of paper to one of the bodies that read: "This shall be the fate of all Mosby's men."

After informing General Robert E. Lee and Confederate Secretary of War James A. Seddon of his intention to respond in kind, Mosby ordered seven Union prisoners, chosen by lot, to be executed in retaliation on November 6, 1864, at Rectortown, Virginia. Although seven men were duly chosen in the original "death lottery," in the end just three men were actually executed. One numbered lot fell to a drummer boy who was excused because of his age, and Mosby's men held a second drawing for a man to take his place. Then, on the way to the place of execution a prisoner recognized Masonic regalia on the uniform of Confederate Captain Montjoy, a recently inducted Freemason then returning from a raid. The condemned captive gave him a secret Masonic distress signal. Captain Montjoy substituted one of his own prisoners for his fellow Mason (though one source speaks of two Masons being substituted). Mosby upbraided Montjoy, stating that his command was "not a Masonic lodge". The soldiers charged with carrying out the executions of the revised group of seven successfully hanged three men. They shot two more in the head and left them for dead (remarkably, both survived). The other two condemned men managed to escape separately.

On November 11, 1864, Mosby wrote to Philip Sheridan, the commander of Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley, requesting that both sides resume treating prisoners with humanity. He pointed out that he and his men had captured and returned far more of Sheridan's men than they had lost. The Union side complied. With both camps treating prisoners as "prisoners of war" for the duration, there were no more executions. On November 18, 1864, Mosby's command defeated Blazer's Scouts at the Battle of Kabletown.

Mosby had his closest brush with death on December 21, 1864, near Rector's Crossroads in Virginia. While dining with a local family, Mosby was fired on through a window, and the ball entered his abdomen two inches below the navel. He managed to stagger into the bedroom and hide his coat, which had his only insignia of rank. The commander of the Union detachment, Maj. Douglas Frazar of the 13th New York Cavalry, entered the house and-not knowing Mosby's identity-inspected the wound and pronounced it mortal. Although left for dead, Mosby recovered and returned to the war effort once again two months later.

Several weeks after General Robert E. Lee's surrender, Mosby's status was uncertain, as some posters above the signature of Gen. Winfield S. Hancock stated that marauding bands would be destroyed and specifically named Mosby as a guerrilla chief and not included in the parole, although Mosby received a copy on April 12 at a letter drop in the Valley along with a letter from Hancock's chief of staff, Gen. C.H. Morgan, calling on Mosby to surrender and promising the same terms as extended to Gen. Lee. Further negotiations followed, at Winchester and Millwood. Finally, on April 21, 1865, in Salem, Virginia, Mosby disbanded the rangers, and on the following day many former rangers rode their worst horses to Winchester to surrender, receive paroles and return to their homes.

But Mosby himself rode south with several officers, planning to fight with General Joseph E. Johnston's army in North Carolina. However, before he reached his fellow Confederates, he read a newspaper article about Johnston's surrender. Some proposed that they return to Richmond and capture the Union officers who were occupying the White House of the Confederacy, but Mosby rejected the plan, telling them, "Too late! It would be murder and highway robbery now. We are soldiers, not highwaymen."

By early May, Mosby confirmed the $5,000 bounty on his head, but still managed to evade capture, including at a raid near Lynchburg, Virginia which terrified his mother. When Mosby finally confirmed the arrest order had been rescinded, he surrendered on June 17, one of the last Confederate officers to do so.

As the Civil War ended, Mosby was just 31, and would live another five decades in his own individualistic style. First, he resumed his law practice in Warrenton, and by December, 1865 was prosecuting the internal revenue collector in Prince William County for mule-stealing.

Nonetheless, during the year after receiving his parole, Mosby often found himself harassed by occupying Union forces, arrested on petty or trumped-up charges, until his wife and young son Revardy, after being rebuffed by President Andrew Johnson despite their mutual kinship ties, met General Grant in January 1866 and secured a handwritten exemption from arrest and safe conduct.