Hagerstown man preserves great-grandfather's Civil War diaries, other items
Charles “Jim” Mobley Jr. considers himself to be fortunate that he has the opportunity to hold the long-barreled revolver once carried by his great-grandfather, who formed a group of Union fighters in Hagerstown as the country became embroiled in the Civil War.

He also can draw the sword once carried by Col. Edward M. Mobley, hold the leather pouch that carried the colonel’s pistol cartridges and read through Mobley’s diaries, which contain details of his war experiences in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

But Colonel Mobley’s story goes much deeper than that.

Mobley already was carving out a name for himself in Hagerstown as an elected official when he became caught up in the unfolding events of the war.

He was elected sheriff of Washington County in 1859. A passage from the 1898 book “Portrait and Biographical Record of the Sixth Congressional District” describes the times in town then as “troublous.”

That’s because Washington County was on the border between the North and the South and the tensions were reflected in the county jail, which Mobley ran on Jonathan Street.

At one time, the book stated, there were no fewer than six people in the jail on charges of murder stemming from political unrest that was brewing, according to the book.

After serving as sheriff for two years, Col. Mobley heeded President Abraham Lincoln’s first call for 75,000 volunteers and found enough men in Hagerstown to form a unit, said Jim Mobley.

The group went to Baltimore, where it was designated Company A, 7th Maryland Regiment Volunteer (U.S.), Mobley said.

Starting as captain of the unit and rising to the rank of colonel, Mobley was wounded twice in combat — once in the leg and once in the neck — and was among the Union troops present when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at the courthouse in Appomattox, Va., on April 9, 1865.

Among the items that his great-grandson has at his Hagerstown home is a letter the colonel wrote to his wife Ellen when Lee surrendered.

Colonel Mobley and his wife had 10 sons, including Edward Carver, who fought alongside his father.

Louis Richmond Mobley, Colonel Mobley’s eighth son, was Jim Mobley’s grandfather. Louis Richmond Mobley’s son, Charles L. Mobley, was Jim Mobley’s father.

With the colonel’s artifacts displayed on a table in Mobley’s home, Mobley talked recently about his great-grandfather’s experiences in the Civil War.

The artifacts include a patch displaying Col. Mobley’s captain’s bars. There are slings for his sword, a worn leather holster for his Savage revolver and a couple of tintype photographs, one showing Colonel Mobley in an 1864 winter camp. There is a portrait of a bearded Col. Mobley, while another photograph shows him participating in a parade on what appears to be South Potomac Street, Mobley said.

In the background of the South Potomac Street photograph is the First Hagerstown Hose Co., of which Col. Mobley was a member.

Mobley said that when he was growing up in his family’s home on Oak Hill Avenue in the 1930s, his great-grandfather’s war artifacts were kept in a drawer in a tallboy.

“My sister and I would get the drawer open every once in a while and play with (the items). Then we could catch heck from my father,” Mobley recalled.

Mobley said his great-grandfather was given a second sword by the City of Hagerstown when the 7th Maryland Regiment Volunteer was formed.