Gerald Moses, former reporter and editor for The Advocate and State-Times, has edited “Civil War Treasures from the Attic,” a collection of letters written by Webster W. Moses, his great-grandfather, who served with the Seventh Kansas Cavalry — the Jayhawkers — during the four years of the Civil War.
It is a graphic account of the Civil War in the western states — the day-to-day grind, the four years of exposure to snow-covered fields and stifling, sunstroke-causing heat, the sins as well as the moments of triumph, long cavalry patrols sustained on crackers and sweet potatoes, riding and sleeping in snow, rain or sweltering heat — a war in which both sides engaged in depredations of civilians, including looting, burning houses and theft of cattle and horses.
Unlike the static sieges of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, this is an account of a fluid campaign by a Union cavalry regiment against Confederate troops and guerillas in Missouri, northern Mississippi and western Tennessee.
Webster Moses was a young teacher in Illinois who joined Company D of the Seventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry as the war began. He began writing to a 14-year-old Quaker girl, one of his students in Wyanet, Illinois. He married young Nancy Mowry in the last year of the war. One of their children discovered the bundle of letters in the attic when he closed the Moses farm home in Minnesota after her death in 1942.
“Civil War Treasures from the Attic” is this exchange of letters and a journal Webster kept during the war, in chronological order.
Gerald Moses located the letters while researching his family’s genealogy and transcribed them from a microfilm on loan from the Kansas State Historical Society. He is a graduate of North Texas University.
He is a former United Press/UPI correspondent, and was with the Baton Rouge newspapers for 30 years, retiring in 1991. He served with the First Marine Division in Korea in 1951.
The softcover book is available from Outskirts Press for $21.95 at outskirtspress.com.