Jonathan Roberts
The Civil War's Quaker Scout & Sheriff

"This extraordinary and fascinating biography paints a larger picture of life in the Quaker community of Virginia during the Civil War."

5 Stars (out of 5), Foreword Clarion Reviews


Jonathan Roberts (1818-1901)

When people think of peace-loving Quakers, Civil War scouts and county sheriffs rarely come to mind, but nineteenth-century Quaker Jonathan Roberts managed to reconcile his religion with his sense of duty.

A devout member of the Religious Society of Friends, Roberts wore many hats throughout his life. He was a farmer, surveyor, husband, and father. He also was a firm abolitionist, the Civil War's Quaker scout and sheriff in northern Virginia, a Radical Republican, and a Fairfax County justice of the peace during Reconstruction.
Roberts's noncombatant military service began shortly after his secessionist neighbors tried to kill him for his political and antislavery views. Fleeing his Fairfax County home after Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard ordered his arrest, Roberts volunteered his surveying experience to the Union’s Army of the Potomac, guiding troops to and from First Manassas (Bull Run). Over the course of the war, he was injured twice, once seriously while chasing John Singleton Mosby, the “Gray Ghost” of the Confederacy.

The Civil War Quaker Scout Jonathan Roberts