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The Second Mass and Its Fighting Californians

A Reference site of images, articles, artifacts of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry including the Cal 100 and the Cal Battalion.

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A Skirmish at Leesburg

Here are two accounts of the same incident from two very different perspectives.  Submitted by Tom Evans.

From the New York Times, Tuesday May 3, 1864

From the Army
A Fight with Mosby's Guerillas

The Star says: "The cavalry expedition sent out from Vienna last Thursday, under command of Col. Lowell, returned to that place yesterday, after visiting Leesburg, Rectortown, and Upperville, Near Upperville a portion of Mosby's guerilla band was encountered, when a sharp fight ensued, which resulted in the loss to the Rebels of two killed and four wounded, and twenty-three taken prisoners.

Colonel Lowell lost three men killed and four wounded.  Col. Lowell returned safely to Vienna with the twenty-three prisoners captured from Mosby, and also three blockade runners, twenty-five horses, and a large quantity of wool, tobacco, and other contraband picked up on the route."

 From a letter to Captain Henry O. Clagett, a member of the Virginia State legislature, from Leesburg area resident Thomas Washington Edwards.

April 30, 1864

My Dear Henry,
     I have but a few minutes to write you a note and cannot give the news in any detail.  On the 28th at 3 in the afternoon the Town was surrounded by Colonels Lowell's cavalry unit from Vienna.  There were about 18 Confederate soldiers in town, some of them drinking at Pickett's.  Among the latter was Jonathan DeButts1 who was so drunk he hardly knew what he was about.  He commenced a regular duel with a Yankee upon the street.  He is said to be a good shot when sober, upon this occasion he did no damage, but received a ball in his shoulder which glanced down to the elbow where it was extracted.
     Some attempted to escape by way of Swann's, one of them a genteel young man from Baltimore by the name of Flack, in charge of the detail sent by Mosby to haul corn from Grundell's.  He was on a slow horse and could not get out of the way, and was shot through the head, killing him instantly.  He was buried yesterday at the cemetery.  The ladies covered his grave with flowers.2 
The Yankee's next went to Grundell's, burned the barn, the stone one, containing about 200 bushels of corn and farming implements, etc. and also a quantity of hay.  They carried off 11 persons, a mule, and 3 of Grundell's horses.  They went to Silk House Spring, and I learned when they reached there they had 23 prisoners and many horses.  They also captured 3 wagons loaded with corn and a six-horse wagon belonging to Mr. Calvert loaded with bacon.  I have not time to comment.
     Mrs. Donnely called on me to see if I could do anything for her husband and son who they say were arrested by Mosby's command and taken to Richmond upon a charge of harboring horses.  The old woman seems so much affected by their detention, particularly as her son has been in service since the war commenced, I told her I would write to you and send the inclosed (sic) certificate which she procured, and tends to inculpate him so far as the (?)horse is concerned.  Please look up the Conscript Officer.  She has heard that he is in irons and wants you to look him up and try to procure his release.

Thomas Washington Edward
of Fruitlands, Leesburg, Va.3

1   Mosby Ranger John Payton DeButts was taken to the Cavalry Brigade Hospital at Vienna for treatment, then sent to Fort Delaware as a POW until the end of the War.
2   Mosby Ranger Thomas J. A. Flack's family removed his body to Greenmount Cemetery in Baltimore after the War.
3   Letter from the files of the late John E. Devine of Leesburg, Virginia