In mid April 1997, not long after reporting to King’s Bay, Ga., I went to Andersonville to see the grave of a distant Moore cousin (actually a half 1st cousin, four times removed), James Draper Moore, Co. B, 1st Potomac Home Brigade Maryland Volunteer Cavalry (aka “Cole’s Cavalry”).
Piecing together the basic elements found in Moore’s service record and tying them to the different stories found in several works focused on Mosby and his men, I was able to pull together a bit to better understand what happened. Moore was captured on Loudoun Heights while on picket duty (apparently somewhere along the Hillsboro road, where Piney Run crosses… Craig, when you read this, if you are ever up that way again, I wonder if you can snap a photo… maybe, please?), along with five other members of the same company (Hamilton Wolf, George Weaver, Isaiah Nicewander, John Newcomber, and Walter Scott Myers), on January 10, 1864.
Having planned for a night attack (in freezing temperatures and snow, no less) on the camp of Cole’s Cavalry, Mosby, of course, wanted to keep the element of surprise and make certain that this picket was taken out in order to free a path for his escape. Long story made short here, Mosby didn’t do so hot, some may have even said he “got whooped.” By the time that Mosby had decided to withdraw, he had suffered severe losses, including the wounding of his younger brother “Willie.” In addition to the six captured Federal troopers, Cole’s battalion had lost six killed and fourteen wounded. However, the men lost from Mosby’s command were deemed by one ranger as “worth more than all Cole’s Battalion.” Considering all of this, a truce was made later that morning and Captain William Henry Chapman (now when I learned this, it really made the hairs stand up on the back because Chapman was a central focus of my first book, so I’m extremely familiar with the man and his life… not to mention that, like me, he was a native of Page County) dispatched a messenger into the Federal camp with an offer for an exchange. For the recovery of his men, Mosby would return the six captured Federal troopers. Cole refused to receive the offer, ultimately sealing Moore’s fate (and that of most of his fellow pickets).
Moore and his pards were first sent to Belle Island, Richmond, Va. (ever been there? I went in late winter 2007 and found the place extremely depressing and poorly maintained). Later, they were taken off the island, loaded into train cars and sent to Camp Sumter (aka Andersonville). On August 30, 1864 (only seven days after what was considered the worst day in Andersonville’s history for deaths), when the prison camp was at its peak for disease and deaths due to overcrowding, James D. Moore died of scobitis (scurvy). His grave is #7273.
So, back to the present… well, at least to 1997 when I made the trip…
After making what I found to be an incredibly long drive from southeast Georgia, I entered the park, secured information that would help me make my way to the headstone, and found it. However, what I found threw me for a loop. The name and unit information were all wrong (If I remember correctly, I think the old headstone identified him as “M.L. Moore” from Maine, someone, incidentally, who actually died in Salisbury Prison, in North Carolina… or at least that is what I think I remember one of the park rangers later telling me). It took me a year to get the whole matter straightened out, but he finally got a new headstone before I closed-out my last tour in the Navy. I never got to see the new headstone in person, but I was able to secure photos courtesy of a friend who made a trip through Andersonville a few years ago.
I was thrilled that I was able to do something like this. Yeah, I know, the new stone isn’t exactly right either (“Potomac Home Guard” instead of “Potomac Home Brigade”), but it’s a significant improvement. It also made me think about how many other soldiers who might be identified incorrectly.
Oh, by the way, before that previously mentioned friend headed down to Andersonville, I asked him to snap photos of the headstones of the other men captured along with Moore.
Walter Scott Myers’ headstone misidentifies him as L.S. Myers and provides no unit information. He died on May 23, 1864 of chronic diarrhea and rests in grave #1307. His mother applied for and received a pension.
Weaver’s headstone is accurate, but does not identify unit. He died on September 21, 1864 of diarrhea. His remains rest in grave #9409. I haven’t figured it out yet, but it looks like there may have been some pension acvitity after his death. I need to see if he had a wife who applied or his mother applied.
Wolf’s headstone is like that of Weaver… again, no unit information. Wolf died on November 24, 1864 and rest in grave #12147. His mother later applied for and received a pension.
I can’t find my photo of Newcomer’s headstone right now, but his headstone misidentifies him as “John Macomber” and, like the others, there is only the identification as a soldier from Maryland, but no unit info. He died August 6, 1864 of diarrhea and rests in grave #4881. It looks like nobody applied for a pension based on his service.
Out of all who were captured that cold night in January 1864, only Nicewander survived Andersonville. Born ca. 1842, he was from Welsh Run, Montgomery, Franklin Co., Pa., a son of Hannah Nicewander. He died sometime before October 1886, and I wonder if it was from the effects of POW camp. His mother applied for a pension based on his service, but did not receive one.
I also found pension records for James D. Moore’s parents. James’ mother’s application was dated 7/26/1880 and his father’s was dated 5/23/1888. Moore’s father was Hamilton Alexander Moore (1812-1891), a half-brother to my third great grandfather, Cyrus Saunders Moore (1829-1904). J.D. Moore’s mother was Christiana Fink Moore (1816-1888). Both Hamilton and Christiana, as well as many other Moore family members, are buried in St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery, Clear Spring, Maryland… over 750 miles from the grave of their son at Andersonville.
* You can also find James Draper Moore in Find-a-Grave. I placed his info and a photo of his headstone there, along with that of his parents. Follow the links to the parents near the bottom of this page.