Andrew Jackson Moseley, 1834-1908

From the memorial speech given by D.W. Taylor at the Confederate gravestone dedication for Andrew Jackson Moseley at Jerusalem United Methodist Church, Wise, Warren County, North Carolina.  

The man whom we are gathered here to commemorate was born on August 11th, 1834 in Brunswick County, Virginia, the second son of Hardaway Moseley (of Brunswick County, Virginia) and Harriet Richardson (of Warren County, North Carolina).  He was named after the military hero and then presiding 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson.  Little is known of Andrew Jackson Moseley’s childhood, except that he was raised on a farm that his father ran concurrently with a blacksmith shop.  This proved later to serve as the training ground and course of profession that Andrew was to follow for the remainder of his life.  In 1850, the Moseley family was living just across the Roanoke River in the Gasburg area of Brunswick County, Virginia.  Here, he met and married Margaret Caroline Barner, from the nearby community of Ebony, Virginia on April 2nd, 1856.  Shortly thereafter, Andrew’s father died.  Will records show that Andrew purchased from the estate blacksmith materials and livestock of his father’s shop and farm.  Andrew and Caroline’s first child, Sarah Jane, was born on July 20, 1857.

Tax records of 1859 and 1860 show prosperous growth in assets, indicating the beginning of a successful career.  The 1859 records showed that Andrew had 14 livestock valued at $10, 1 clock valued at $5, a $75 horse (rather valuable for the time), and miscellaneous household items worth $50, for which he paid a county tax of $1.36.  The next year, he had obviously re-accessed his career course, directing his efforts toward blacksmithing, as he had sold all of his livestock and invested a considerable amount of his gain into the purchase of a servant to assist in his business.  That year’s tax records shows that he had, in addition to the servant, a horse (or mule) valued at a much lower $20, no livestock, and the same household items as the year before, but at a tax value of $2.34 (almost double that of the previous year).  This however, may not have been a completely wise decision, as the next few years would not only change his financial situation, but would change his homeland and way of life forever.

By April of 1860, a second child, my great-grandmother (Elizabeth Barner Moseley) was born.  Little could Andrew have known at the time that just 364 days later the political upheaval at national and state levels would reach a crest and the most devastating war in our history would break out.  Also, he could not have known that the two states in which he was to call home would be shattered with greater losses in blood and property than any states before or since that time.

Now with five mouths to feed, and another child on the way, Andrew saw his brother-in-law and many of his friends and neighbors marching off to war.  Undoubtedly like many others of the time, he was torn between his patriotic duties and his immediate family responsibilities.  Nevertheless, he had a skill that was in high demand in the South, as virtually every item of war and survival of an economy must now be made at home.  Thus, Andrew continued on with his blacksmith business for another year.

But the tide of war was nothing like the slight scuffle expected in the beginning, and the troops signed up for a year were beginning to realize that the Federal Government of the United States was a formidable adversary.  Military needs now outweighed economic needs and Andrew was faced with decision to leave his home and family and join the call of his State and Country.  By the time Andrew J. Moseley had joined the Confederate Army, his regiment was a veteran organization of 16 months service, having been originated as a militia company in December 1860 around a nucleus of well-to-do Richmond men.  That company grew rapidly as the threat of war loomed greater.   Twice it was called into action due to suspected threats of attack, and it was twice shelled by Federal gunboats, prior to being formed with other companies and mustered into official service as the 21st Virginia Infantry, in June of 1861.  The remaining companies being comprised of men from Brunswick, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, Cumberland, Buckingham, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, and Nottoway Counties in Virginia, and the City of Baltimore, Maryland.

The initial officers led by Colonel (later General) William Gilham consisted in part of Lt. Col. John M. Patton, Jr. (Great Uncle of WWII General George S. Patton, III) and the later famous publisher, as Sgt. Major, Virginius Dabney.

Like in most military units, both North and South, hard marching, unsanitary conditions, disease of epidemic proportion and insufficient commissary services immediately began to take a toll on the men.  Just as the men began to toughen and to think that they had survived the worse, they were assigned in November to General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Brigade.  It was with this brigade, made famous by Jackson’s rapid marches up and down the Shenandoah Valley, surprising and confusing the enemy, that they became known as “Jackson’s Foot Cavalry”.  Their hard marching changed to hard fighting on Sunday, March 23, 1862, where Jackson’s men met Gen. Nathan Bank’s superior force of Federal troops at Kernstown, Virginia, just 2 miles from Winchester.  Here, the 21st Virginia lost 60 men, 22% of the regiment, with one officer killed and four officers wounded, including one of Andrew’s in-laws, Thomas J. Barner, who was wounded in this battle.  Many officers were spared in this conflict as they were at the moment absent on recruiting service.

One such officer was Captain A. D. Kelly, who just three days later, on March 26, signed up Andrew Jackson Moseley, his brother John D. Moseley and a number of their friends into service at Rock Store in Gholsonville, Brunswick County, Virginia.  Given less than one week to set their personal affairs in order and bid their families good-by, the new recruits marched off to meet their new comrades on April 4th.  Andrew’s third child, Bob Moseley, was now just 5 months old.

Andrew and John had just joined their command (as volunteers) when the army was reorganized on April 21st, setting up for the duration of a long drawn out war.  (Incidentally, brother John was back in Brunswick County on April 20th to marry Caroline’s sister and the namesake of Andrews first child, Mary Jane Barner).

Their first trial by fire came on May 8th when they were involved in the Battle of McDowell on Bull Pasture Mountain.  Fortunately, here and later in the Battle of Winchester, the unit suffered little harm, although in the Battle of Winchester they were under heavy artillery and musket fire for over 90 minutes.

Their next duty had them marching prisoners of war up the valley (southward) and then traveling by rail to Lynchburg.  Returning to regular duty, the 21st marched northward along the eastern ridge of the mountains to Charlottesville, where they reattached to their command.

They then looped northeastward to unite with Generals Longstreet and A. P. Hill in support of General Lee’s counter-offensive style defense of Yankee Gen. George McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign in his attempt to take Richmond.  Jackson’s men, now, too well equipped with guns, equipment, and clothing captured at Winchester, for once failed their well-earned reputation as “foot cavalry”, arriving late for each in the series of battles known of as the Seven Days Battles.  Nevertheless, they provided the needed backup support to assure victory for the South, and because of their strenuous trek, Jackson’s men were marched back to Richmond and granted one whole day’s leave.

With a few short rests during the remainder of June and July, Jackson entered headlong into a major battle on August 9th, driving between portions of the Union Army of the Potomac at Cedar Mountain.  After two hours of hard fighting, the 21st Virginia found themselves virtually surrounded by the enemy after the 1st Virginia Battalion on their left flank was routed.  One officer of the 21st reported that “The enemy got in our rear (with)in thirty steps of us before we found it out.”  Regardless, according to Gen. Wm. B. Taliaferro’s official report, “The 21st Virginia Regiment, ….poured a destructive fire upon the enemy and exhibited a degree of heroic gallantry rarely ever witnessed.”  With rifles empty and no time to reload, one of the rare moments of actual hand-to-hand combat followed, with the bayonet freely being used.  This may have been the 21st’s finest hour, but also, the most tragic, with a 50% casualty rate including the loss of their Lt. Col., Richard Cunningham.  Needless to say, the unit fell apart under the tremendous pressure and many men were captured, some of them reportedly being killed after their surrender.

For Andrew Moseley and his surviving comrades, this was a prelude for things to come.  On the 30th of August, in what was to become known as Second Manassas, the 21st Virginia was being held in reserve due to the lack of ammunition.  About 4:00 pm, the Federals stormed their position and the regiment was ordered to charge with empty guns.  Using a railroad cut as natural fortifications, and with only bayonets, rocks and rifles as clubs, they drove back the charge. Two days later, the 21st fought in the nearby Battle of Chantilly in a thunderstorm with torrential rain.  With this the 21st VA headed toward Maryland and the Battle of Sharpsburg.  Andrew, however, headed toward Richmond, Va., and hospitals there disabled from a gunshot wound.  It is not known which of the battles he was wounded in, as the first record shows him in Richmond on September 4th, where he stayed until furloughed home to Brunswick Co., on November 4th through December 29th, 1862.  Incidentally, Jones Clary, the man who was later to be Andrew’s second father-in-law was killed sometime during these same battles.

Despite hand to hand combat and a gunshot wound, the most trying time of his life came during this furlough, as his first child, Sara Jane died on December 14th, just before Christmas.  Returning to Richmond as required, records show Andrew debilitated and hospitalized until March of 1863, when he was declared unfit for further military service.  Though remaining on the 21st VA rolls, on March 23rd, Andrew was detailed by special orders from the Adj. & Inspector General’s Office, CSA to work in Tredegar Iron Works for the remainder of the war.  Again applying his trade as blacksmith, Andrew assisted in the manufacture of Cannon and other equipment for the Confederacy.

Whether by nature of injury or due to special skill it is not known, but about this time, Andrew’s brother, John, was detailed to work in a government shoe factory in Richmond.  Whether they were able to take their families to Richmond, it is, also, not known, but due to the severe shortage in living quarters, shortage of food, and high inflation, it is suspected that the families would have been better off in their home county.  If so, they probably would have been able to visit one another occasionally.  Anyway, Andrew and Caroline’s 3rd child, Allen, was born in November of 1863.

In Richmond, both Andrew and John were assigned to Company C, 6th Battalion of Local Defense, (later consolidated with the 2nd Battalion, forming the 2nd Regiment Infantry, Local Defense) which was made up of detached military and civil servants for the protection of the Capital City.  This force drilled regularly, and served local military needs as arose, but were fortunate in only being called into a couple of minor alarms on the outskirts of the city.  Their last assignment, however, was that of evacuating Richmond on that fateful day of April 3rd, 1865 when General Lee began his retreat to Appomattox.

Brother John apparently became permanently ill (possibly due to previous wounds) while in Richmond, as records indicate he requested retirement less than a month before Richmond fell.  Unfortunately, neither the request nor its reply survived the burning and subsequent evacuation of Richmond.  However, such a request would have been deemed serious, considering his age, marital status and the tide of war in which he was assigned to service.  Both Andrew and John returned to Brunswick County after the war, but John apparently never recovered from his illness or wound as he passed away on October 27th, 1866.

Andrew and Caroline returned to civilian life during the fateful period of Reconstruction.  During this time, however, they were blessed with two more children, Willie Cleveland, and James Turner.  Unfortunately, to close out this fateful chapter in history, Caroline Barner Moseley passed away in January of 1870, and her Sister Mary Jane Barner Moseley died (of consumption) a short time later in 1871, each leaving small children.

Regrouping his life, in October of 1873, Andrew took a new bride, Susan Clary (daughter of aforementioned Jones Clary) and moved to Warren Co., NC.  There, he assumed the position of overseer on the John Boyd, Jr. Plantation, located on the Eaton’s Ferry/Vaughan road.  Here Andrew supervised the farming operation, a general store, a cotton gin and ran a blacksmith shop, while Susan took care of their already large family.  In their spare time, Andrew and Susan increased their family size by seven more children.  First to arrive of the new union, was Nick (born in 1874), then Foote (born in 1876), Wilson (born in 1878, but whom presumably died at a young age).  Joe was born in 1881, but some relief came to the number of mouths to feed that year.  Sometime around 1880, a young widower from Brunswick County, by the name of Benjamin Ball Taylor, came to work as a farm hand, for Andrew.   Needless to say, he fell in love with the farmer’s daughter and they ran off and were married in 1881.  Andrew and Susan continued their family, possibly they felt it would be more cost effective to raise their on farm help.  Anyway the next to be born was Mary J. in 1885, followed by John Edward in 1891 and finally Thomas J. in 1893.

Sometime after this point disaster struck again, as Susan passed away, possibly during childbirth. We know little of Andrew’s situation with this large family at this point, except that the older children were reaching adulthood and setting out on their own.  Bob was married in 1894 and, both Allen and James began careers in the Navy. Clearly, he still had ties with Brunswick Co., as some of his children married and settled in that area.  It is not known where Susan and Wilson are buried, but it is possible that they were buried on the Boyd plantation, as there was an old cemetery near the Boyd house.  However, none of those graves had markers other than regular field stones.

Further, at this point John Boyd, Jr. had apparently been unsuccessful in maintaining his wealth, as he reportedly fancied (too well) the aristocrat life of the antebellum south.  The vast holdings began to crumble around him and by 1900, the property was purchased by Archer Wilson and Wiley Coleman.  Also, sometime before1900, Andrew had again gathered up his children and started afresh; this time in the community of Paschal, NC, where he again opened a blacksmith shop just a short distance from where we are now standing.  Not to be a widower long, he once again married, this time to a young widow herself, Annie Perkinson Williams, with two young children, Rosa Ann and John Robert Williams.  Together, they had two more children, Macon Gibbons in 1904 and Herbert Glen in 1906.

On February 21st , 1908, at the age of 76, Andrew Jackson Moseley passed away, or to paraphrase the words of his fearless leader and General, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, he “passed over the river to rest on the other side”. 

Andrew Jackson Moseley was a faithful husband, suffering through the deaths of two mates before leaving his last mate in death.  He was a proud father to fifteen children of his own and two step-children.  And, he was a tireless provider, serving his family and serving his country, working until his death in the profession taught by his father.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s