The Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum, located in the historic district of Centreville, VA, is a local museum dedicated to and celebrating Confederate stalwarts General James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart and Colonel John Mosby. During the Civil War, Mosby’s Raiders turned most of Virginia, and especially the Fairfax area, into what’s known as “Mosby’s Confederacy.”
Stuart and Mosby were essential figures in the Confederacy during the Civil War, and their stories and history illuminate not only the ideology of the Confederate cause and what they were fighting for but also the sophisticated tactics in which the Confederacy sought to secede and thereafter defend the secession. The Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum features artifacts and educational collections telling the stories of these two men as well as the role of Virginia in the Civil War. Entrance to the museum is free.
Although the entire Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum showcases different aspects of the Civil War in Virginia, one of the museum's principal subjects is Major General James Ewell Brown Jeb Stuart. Born at “Laurel Hill” in Patrick County, Jeb Stuart became a West Point graduate and spent most of the 1850s on the Kansas frontier. Then, in 1859, Jeb Stuart aided General Robert E. Lee in the capture of John Brown at Harper’s Ferry. At the outset of the Civil War, Stuart quickly became famous for his exploits and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1861. A year later, he was promoted again to Major General. During the war, Stuart and his horse artillery fought in some of the most infamous battles in Virginia. He was mortally wounded at the Yellow Tavern in May 1864 and died a day later in Richmond.
If Jeb Stuart represents military gallantry, Colonel Mosby represented the sneakier “special forces.” Born in 1833 in Edgemont, VA, Stuart was once told he wouldn’t live past six, but he surpassed the doctor’s warnings and, after shooting another student at the University of Virginia (and serving one year for the act, in which he became friends with the prosecutor), Mosby became a lawyer in Bristol. Once the Civil War started, Mosby enlisted and soon became a scout under General Jeb Stuart. Armed with nine men, Mosby operated behind Union lines, raiding isolated Union posts and dividing the captured goods among his men. To the Union, he was seen as a criminal as opposed to a soldier.
In 1863, Mosby was given Company A of the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry, and the Company soon became known as “Mosby’s Raiders.” Using guerrilla warfare tactics, Mosby and 800 cavalry riders destroyed rail lines and bridges and was otherwise quite active in the wilderness campaign. In fact, some of Mosby’s wartime exploits were so great that he is credited with extending the war by several months, as the Union had to keep troops to protect the capital in Washington DC instead of sending them out to the campaign.