Near Falls Church, Virginia, there lived before the war a wealthy and highly-respected family of the name of Delaney. When the war broke out one of the sons joined Mosby’s band, and a daughter became a volunteer nurse in a rebel hospital. Both became celebrated in their way. The son was young, daring and adventurous, the pride of the female sex for thirty miles around the place of his nativity. He was soon the dread of Union soldiers and Union men of Virginia.
Not a stray soldier from picket escaped him, not a Union farmer, but trembled at his name. The vicinity of Dranesville, Chantilly, Falls Chruch and Vienna can attest to his notoriety and achievement. The father of a rebellious son and daughter sternly maintained his loyalty and fidelity to the Union. At the opening of the war he immediately offered his services to the Federal Government, and was promoted to the rank of colonel in the volunteer service.
Early one day a scouting party, consisting of detachments from the Thirteenth New York and Second Massachusetts Cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant F. B. Lyell, started from Falls Church in pursuit of guerillas, reported to be in the neighborhood of Chantilly and Herndon station. On the morning following their departure, the troops were quietly drinking their coffee within half a mile of the station, five of the advance guard posted on the road; suddenly, as if rising from the earth, came galloping at full speed, five men fully armed and equipped.
A volley from the advanced guard caused a momentary pause; the next minute the guerillas turned and fled, the advance starting in pursuit, an exciting chase ensuing for half a mile. A second volley was fired by the pursuers; but still the rebels kept onward in their course till they arrived near the pine woods, when they dashed in and the men dared not follow. A stray horse was seen to gallop from the woods without a rider! A man was shot! Where was he?
The neighborhood was searched, and, in an adjoining house, stretched on a bed, pale and breathing hard, was found a wounded man, a young lady fanning him tenderly. The officer in command asked him, “Do you belong to the regular Confederate army, and what regiment?” He replied; “I belong to Mosby’s command.” He stated that he had always used the Union men well when he had taken them prisoners, and begged that a surgeon be sent; with which request Lieutenant Lyell promptly complied. The surgeon came too late, for two nights afterwards the notorious Frenchy Delaney breathed his last, Colonel Delaney arriving just in time to take a last farewell.
Curious to relate, Colonel Delaney was taken prisoner to Richmond, and his own son was present at the capture. The news of his fate flew fast; on arriving at Dranesville, the officer in charge was accosted by the fair damsels of rebeldom, in terms like this: “Now, have you really shot Frenchy Delaney? Well, now, that is too bad; I hope he won’t die.” “Yes,” replied Lyell, “and very soon you will have no rebel beaux to marry? you will have to take up with Union men.” “We will,” was the answer, “but we will convert them.” “Perhaps,” said the Lieutenant, “we shall convert you.” The maidens smiled incredulously, and Lyell left for his command.
Originally posted 2009-02-05 00:14:21.