The Gray Ghost (1957– )
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However, the overall thrust of the show was excellent in that it showed the humanity and valor of BOTH sides of the war, Confederate and Union. There are villains, but often they are people trying to take advantage of a tragic situation rather than being members of the opposing armed forces. Naturally, as it was only a half hour long and aimed at a younger audience, every effort was made to keep the violence and bloodshed to a minimum - but that didn't preclude a lot of great adventure and more than enough 'fightin'.
No effort was made to present Mosby realistically PHYSICALLY on the show. Tod Andrews was a fairly good sized fellow while Mosby was quite small (delicate actually) who wasn't more than about 5 foot 3 inches or so and never weighed more than about 128 pounds. As well, the producers of the series avoided the reality that had Mosby been captured by the Yankees he would have been hanged without trial by order of Ulysses S. Grant! Even at war's end, it took John Singleton Mosby over six months longer than just about every other Confederate officer to be paroled and return to civilian life! Up until Grant finally allowed him to be paroled, he existed as an outlaw with a price on his head hiding out in Northern Virginia where he had fought as a partisan.
I remember allusions to the Mason-Dixon line, and West Virgina--where one of the main characters (Sgt Miles?) came from. I remember an exchange between Mosby and a young lady driving a buck-board outside Washington. She had a picnic basket--perhaps delivering it to her Union boyfriend, which was confiscated by Mosby, and after indicating that she had prepared one of the items herself, Mosby called back with "Miles, save the (whatever) for me". And then he gave a salute and a half- wave." It was romantic and gallant.
Through the mists of my memories, it was a good show that taught me that there are two sides to every war.
To read that it attempted historical accuracy was a pleasant surprise, considering many westerns of that era. There were other shows and movies of that time which also were kinder to the Confederacy. One was 'Drums in the Deep South' with Guy Madison.
I'm now pretty fuzzy on most of the episodes. Having more recently read about the main character, I learned a couple more facts:
(1) Yes, Grant wanted him dead, and the main person Mosby often outfoxed was a young officer named Custer. (2) After the war, Mosby joined the Republican Party, which ironically had played a part in pushing the South into the war to begin with. Coincidentally, another general (Longstreet) earned more ire from many of his former compatriots for doing the same thing.
Maybe some day, I'll get to see the series again through more mature eyes.
He started out as a private in JEB Stuart's cavalry and one winter convinced Stuart to let him take 10 or 12 men to harass the enemy out of boredom and the legend was born. He was the only partisan ranger group that Robert E Lee approved of and unfortunately was instrumental in lengthening the war by keeping tens of thousands of Union soldiers out of the main thrust against Lee for fear that Mosby would sneak into Washington city and kidnap Abraham Lincoln. And because of his slight build was once captured and exchanged because the Yankees thought he was just a private. Someone MUST find this and let us die-hard fans see it just one more time.
Or better yet have HBO develop a new series. Two seasons would be great.
I have the two books by Virgil Carrington Jones upon which this series was based, and they are great reads. Maybe I will go with the "short" set since no complete set seems to be available, but I do recommend it as great adventure without the graphic violence seen in so much television nowadays.