Feb. 9, 2016
You can tell that I have been busy lately, if I forgot to commemorate the anniversary of Moseby's Fox Hunt. 151 years ago, yesterday, Feb. 8, 1865. For some reason, the thought of a large group of the most bedraggled, half-starved Confederates ever seen intrigues me. They gathered for a fox hunt in Loudoun County, Va. near Mount Zion Church, at the top of the hill just east of modern-day Gilberts Corner (each with his favorite fox hound to keep him and his war horse company). That's just east of the intersection of Rt. 50 and Rt. 15, for those of you with GPS. The weather was reported to have been much as we have today, cold, with snow on the ground, and temperatures in the mid-thirties. I suppose they had to gallop, to keep warm. These men did not have the benefit of Gore-tex and Thinsulate, but moonshine can cure many evils. Most of these men would have a full-blown case of what we would now call PTSD; they had survived four years of war, and had a strong premonition that they would not make it to the end. When you look at the casualty lists from later on that fateful year, you see their premonitions were correct. I suppose this partly explains the cross-country riding on display that day. Young men, probably inebriated, convinced they were going to die soon, thinking they might as well have some fun while they were at it. How else to explain men galloping over ground they had not walked, in deep snow, chasing a fox hound that was chasing a fox. Oscar Wilde called fox hunting the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible. How would we describe this pursuit? The inebriated in pursuit of the inevitable? Brave beyond courage by that stage, and mounted on horses brave enough to charge headlong towards cannons and massed rifle fire. Makes me smile, when people talk about the difficulty of modern horse sports.