Mosby Heritage Area Tour Page16
August 2006 photos/text courtesy of Richard Edling, PA

Fairfax Court House

The Fairfax Courthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. George Mason petitioned the General Assembly in 1790 to move the courthouse to "such a place as should be found most convenient near the center of the County." Designed by James Wren and centrally located at the crossroads of Little River Turnpike and Ox Road, Fairfax County Courthouse was completed in 1800. During the Civil War it was occupied by Union troops and used as a lookout station. It was also used as a headquarters by Gen. G. B. McClellan and Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard. The Fairfax Courthouse survives as a symbol of an era when the courthouse was the center of community activity for county residents

Fairfax Court House
Close-up of Stone Monument



Dr. William Gunnell House, Built c. 1835
The March 9 raid on Fairfax Courthouse made Mosby's reputation, both among his colleagues in the Confederate army and among the enemy. The original target of the raid had been Col. Sir Percy Wyndham, the British adventurer in command of Federal cavalry in the area. However, Wyndham had eluded Mosby's grasp, having gone into Washington DC to attend a social function. Wyndham had been openly critical of Mosby, calling him a horse thief, making him a prime target for receiving his comeuppance. Wyndham's commanding officer, Brigadier Gen. Edwin Stoughton was not so lucky. At the Dr. William Gunnell house on March 9th, 1863, Lieutenant Prentiss, awakened by shouts that there were dispatches outside, was foolish enough to open the door to the raiders. Six men strode in, but it was the smallest of them, the wiry one with the plume in his hat, who stuck a revolver in the lieutenantís ribs while he stood in the entranceway in his nightclothes holding high a smoking oil lamp. Upstairs the beplumed intruder walked into the bedroom of Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton and pulled down the covers. The brigadier was laying on his side, snoring, but he roused up stupidly, still somewhat intoxicated from his eveningís soiree, when Mosby lifted his nightshirt and slapped him on the behind announcing, Get up General, and come with me. The sound of the voice brought Stoughton more fully awake and, when he realized the man bending over him was a stranger, he shouted, What is this! Do you know who I am, sir? I reckon I do, General. Did you ever hear of Mosby? Yes, have you caught him? No, but he has caught you. Despite a few of the prisoners, including Lt. Prentiss managing to escape, Mosby had pulled off a spectacular raid, capturing a brigadier general, two captains, 30 prisoners and 58 horses without the loss of a single man or one shot being fired

Photo of General Stoughton
Dr. William Gunnell House
When President Lincoln was informed of Stoughton's capture he disgustedly remarked that he could make another general with the stroke of a pen but he sure hated to lose those horses. It was Lincoln himself who named Mosby "The Gray Ghost." The Union Army's biggest fear in Washington was that Mosby would kidnap Lincoln from right beneath their nose. Lincoln, upon hearing several of his generals discussing Mosby and their fears, loudly announced, "Listen to you men, you speak of Mosby as though he is a ghost, a gray ghost." It wasn't until after the war that Mosby learned of this and that the nickname stuck

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