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The title of this Disney film is misleading. The film's primary focus
concerns the lives of a young Confederate soldier, Private Willie Prentiss
(Russell) and his Union friend, Corporal Henry Jenkins (MacArthur). The
film begins with Willie accidentally shooting an officer he is later to
serve under, Lieutenant John Singleton Mosby (Ging). While he initially
tries to avoid capture and hanging by both sides (as a spy by the Union and
a traitor by the Confederacy), he enters Mosby's service due to his
knowledge of the area in which the notorious unit is operating.
The film begins with lots of character development and little involves the historic figure of the title. Eventually, it gets around to portraying Mosby's famous raid in which he captures Union General Edwin H. Stoughton and dozens of prisoners.
The raid, conducted well inside Union territory, was spectacularly successful and ended with no shots being fired. Unfortunately, because Mosby is not the focus of the film, the interesting history is largely glossed over. The film concludes with Corporal Jenkins' romance with Willie's sister, Oralee (Lipton) setting the stage for a Union attempt to trap Mosby's men.
The film's treatment of the Confederates is moderately sympathetic. The primary villain is a spiteful Union sergeant (Adams) who can be counted on to make the expedient decision over the honorable one. Most characters on both sides are reasonably human with the expected flaws. Both Willie Prentiss and Henry Jenkins are confronted with having to decide between friendship and duty.
If the viewer is expecting a good or complete portrayal of the exploits of John Singleton Mosby, it won't be found here. As a family oriented Civil War film, "Mosby's Marauders" is passable, but Disney has done far better with other live action films.
This film was a delightful surprise. Made within a year of the much more well-known "Shenandoah," and featuring similar characters and story line, this one has few of the historical gaffes and absurd assumptions of the more well-known Shenandoah. Further, the film is decidedly pro-Southern! Is there any question as to why this film is no longer in the catalog?
In 1957 there was a short-lived series called " The Gray Ghost" based on the exploits of John Singleton Mosby. It starred Todd Andrews. In that series Mosby was pretty heroic and was never ranked at anything less than a Major. After seeing Ken Burns' CIVIL WAR, I learned more about Mosby. While he was not a major figure in the war, he did become a footnote in history. The series was a juvenile adventure made during the era of the television western. It was among the many, many shows I watched as a kid both network and syndicated. I remember it being on Fridays but if it was syndicated it could have played at various times. It was never my favorite and I was unaware until recently of the existence of the film where Jack Ging played Mosby.
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