1862: Jefferson Lafayette Moss to R. G. Ogden

Jefferson L. Moss Gravestone

Jefferson L. Moss Gravestone

This letter was written by Jefferson Lafayette Moss (1840-1914) of Adams County, Illinois, who enlisted at Quincy, in Co. B, 3rd Missouri Cavalry, on 19 September 1861, and was mustered into the service at Palmyra, Missouri on 26 November 1861. He served three years and ninety days, rising to the rank of sergeant before his discharge.

Jefferson was the son of Simon Peter Moss (1800-1843) and Adeline Amanda Mullikin (1790-1843). In 1865, Jefferson married Sarah Elizabeth Rose (1848-1885) and together they had eight children. Jefferson and his family moved to Oklahoma after the war and resided near Mountain Park, Kiowa County. His death was rather sudden. According to a local paper, “he and another man were bringing a cow through the town when Mr. Moss got out of the wagon to drive her up. Just about as soon as he stepped from the wagon, he sat down, threw up his hands, and fell back dead. His body was placed in the wagon and he was driven home.”

Though extremely difficult to decipher and read, this appears to be a first-hand account of the scout conducted by a detachment of the 3rd Missouri Cavalry that left Rolla, Missouri, on 27 August 1862 to “surprise a band of guerrillas who were reported to be prowling through the country on what is known as Sinking Creek, in the County of Reynolds, State of Missouri. This band was commanded by the somewhat notorious guerrilla chief, Col. Wood, and was reported to the authorities at Rolla, to be engaged in the most barbarous and inhuman treatment of the Union citizens of Sinking Valley, killing all indiscriminately of either sex or age, who were suspicioned of harboring Union sentiments appropriating all of their effects of value and burning their houses… It was late in the afternoon of the 27th of August, 1862, that Capt. Black, at the head of his small, but trusty party left Rolla for the scene of the late outrages, distant sixty-three miles. [History of the Third Missouri Cavalry by A. W. M. Petty, pages 11-12] A full account of the scout can be read on-line.


[August] 1862

Camp Carrick,¹

Dear Friend Ogden,

I received a letter from you last evening. I was glad to hear from you, however, I had given you up for dead because you hadn’t written. You wanted me to write to you. I meant to after I left you. I went to to Galesburg [Illinois] and found that there was no artillery getting up there but I saw a man on the cars ____ I ______ somewhat like a soldier ____ are red & ______ing recruits. Our glorious regiment and said that they would be artillery and that I would be sure to get in with it ___ ___. I went to  Colonel [John Montgomery] Glover‘s Regiment — Third Mo. Cavalry, Company B.

We just got in last night from a long scout of seven days. We have not slept but one night since we left. But while we _____ about twenty-five miles from the _________. On Friday the twenty-seventh, we started on a scout forty six of them and ran into about nine hundred of them before they knew they were in fifty miles of them. They skulked around in the brush like the Indians. They had them surrounded [and] before they knew it, they crippled the captain and took him prisoner. Only killed ….about two hundred of them into camp. Killed two of them, took six prisoners, marched into the bush after them. About seventy-five of us and had to retreat and wait till the other company could come up.

We then rushed into the brush after them and completely routed them killing and maiming about fifty of them, took in the neighborhood of seventy-five horses and guns 100. I haven’t told anything about it yet but I must bring this to a close. But if you can read this, you can ____ …

You spoke about my money. I haven’t ______ but the general …..

No more at present. Write soon.

— Jefferson L. Moss

¹ Named after Major Robert Carrick. It was probably near Rolla, Missouri — the base of operations for the Third Missouri Cavalry until November 1862.


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