James J. Cain

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Robert C. Kenzer

Second Advisor

Dr. John L. Gordon, Jr.


This work examines why civilians in Mosby's Confederacy supported the 43d Battalion of Virginia Cavalry. The tactics used by Mosby placed civilians at considerable risk with Union authorities, for his men did not live in a separate camp but stayed either in hideaways in the mountains or, more commonly, with families they knew in the area. The nature of the guerrilla warfare practiced by Mosby's men, which involved late night gatherings, lightning strikes on the enemy's weakest points, and then dispersal into the countryside until the next raid, frustrated the Federal commanders who fought against them. These commanders, however, perceived from the start the essential role civilians played in the successful operation of the 43d Battalion and therefore vented their wrath upon Mosby's supporters in an attempt to weaken their resolve to assist him. Countless raids through the area pillaged farms, looted houses, arrested men, insulted women, and left the population on the brink of starvation. However, despite all the risks and sufferings the people endured, they supported Mosby and his rangers steadfastly through to the end of the war. Civilians in Mosby's Confederacy supported the 43d Battalion because they embraced the Confederate cause, saw Union raids as standard enemy behavior and not solely a result of Mosby's actions, were inspired by Mosby's victories, sought the relief and protection offered by the partisans, and personally knew or were related to many of the rangers.