Saturday, October 23, 2010

An Englishman Fighting in the American Civil War

                                                              Bradford Smith-Hoskins

It was not unusual to find British officers visiting or even fighting with the opposing armies during the American Civil War. Colonel Sir Percy Wyndham, for example, commanded the 1st New Jersey Cavalry and was the arch nemesis of Colonel John Singleton Mosby, the “Grey Ghost” of the Confederacy. Another Englishman, Bradford Smith-Hoskins, “Late Capt. in her Britannic Majesty’s Forty Fourth Regiment”, fought under Mosby’s direct command.

Mosby described the engagement in which the thirty year old Englishman died. “Captain Hoskins, an English officer, was riding by my side. Hoskins was in the act of giving a thrust with his saber when he was shot….Hoskin’s wound was mortal. When the fight was over, he was taken to the house of an Englishman nearby, and lived a day or two.” The house in question was called “The Lawn” and was owned by Charles Green, himself an Englishman. Green preserved the house from occupation or destruction by the Union army by flying a British flag over the property throughout the war and proclaiming it neutral territory.

The grave of this British officer, buried so far from home, is in the small cemetery of the Greenwich Presbyterian church in the village of Greenwich in Prince William County, Virginia.

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