William Mortimer Moss Questionnaire
1. State your full name and present post office address: William Mortimer Moss Jackson, TN
2. State your age now? 83 years. Born August 3, 1839
3. In what State and county were you born? Williamson County, Tennessee
4. Were you a Confederate or Federal Soldier? Confederate
5. Name of your company? Number of Regiment? Company D 1st Tenn. Infantry
6. What was the occupation of your father? Brick and Stone Mason
7. Give the full name of your father? Born at? in the county of? State of? He lived at? William Jones Moss - Chesterfield Co., Virginia - Town of Suffolk - Virginia - At birth place and at Franklin, Tennessee - Constable-Deputy Sheriff.
8. Maiden Name in full of your mother? she was the daughter of? and his wife? who lived at? Martha Conn Farmer - John H. Farmer - Mary Farmer - Williamson County, Tennessee near Peytonsville.
9. Remarks on ancestry? None
10. If you owned land at the opening of the war, state what kind of property you owned, and state the value of your property as near as you can? None
11. Did you or your parents own slaves? if so, how many? No
12. If your parents owned land, state about how many acres? None
13. State as near as you can the value of all the property owned by your parents, including land, when the war opened? Owned stock and household goods only.
14. What kind of house did your parents occupy? State whether it was a log house or frame house or built of other materials, and state the number of rooms it had? Lived in a two log houses and two frame houses of my recollection.
15. As a boy and young man, state what kind of work you did. If you worked on a farm, state to what extent you plowed, worked with a home, and did other kinds of similar work. (Certain historians claim that white men would not do work of this sort before the war)? Worked on a farm some, but brothers worked on farm more than I. All of us plowed, worked with hoes, and did just as much work of that nature as farmers do now.
16. State clearly what kind of work you father did, and what the duties of your mother were. State all the kinds of work done in the house as well as you can remember - that is, cooking, spinning, weave, etc.? All work that is usually done in the country. Mother sewed, cooked, spun, weaved, and clothed the family nearly all the time. Father was away most of the time, working as a mason, building all kinds of house for the public.
17. Did your parents keep servants? if so, how many? Yes, had servants about the house. Don't recall the number. Father worked many in his brick and stone business.
18. How was honest toil - as plowing, hauling and other sorts of honest work of this class - regarded in your community? Was such work considered respectable and honorable? Yes, by most respectable people. But there were a few here and there who did not like to work and did not like to see anybody else work (except Negroes).
19. Did white men in your community generally engage in such work? Yes, most those who had Negroes worked as well as those who didn't.
20. To what extent were there white men in your community leading lives of idleness and having other do their work for them? A very small percent did not work. People who had Negroes worked-- except for a few aristocratic rich.
21. Did the men who owned slaves mingle freely with those who did not own slaves, or did slaveholders in any way show by their actions that they felt themselves better then respectable, honorable men who did not own slaves? There were social classes then as now. Most of the slaveholders thought they were better.
22. At the churches, at the schools, at public gatherings in general, did slaveholders and non-slaveholders mingle on a footing of equality? Yes, as a rule. There were a few cases of rich who did not mingle with the poor. The line between the two classes was more strictly drawn then than now.
23. Was there a friendly feeling between slaveholders and non-slaveholders in your community, or were they antagonistic to each other? Friendly.
24. In a political contest in which one candidate owned slaves and the other did not, did the fact that one candidate owned slaves help him in winning the contest? No. However, slaveholders generally held most public offices, for they had more time to devote to political work. Some of the small county offices, constable, clerks, etc. , were held by the poor whites.
25. Were the opportunities good in your community for a poor young man -honest and industrious- to save up enough to buy a small farm or go in business for himself? Yes, but most of the poor rented and worked on rich men's farms. Many of them were mechanics, blacksmiths, wagon makers, brick & stone masons, carpenters, and plasterers. Poor men did nearly all of this kind of work.
26. Were poor, honest, industrious young men, who were ambitious to make something of themselves, encouraged or discouraged by slaveholders? They were encouraged. I can think of several specific instances of such men who became wealthy land owners, especially after the war, when the rich farmers who had been slave holders did not know what to do.
27. What kind of school or schools did you attend? Common log house school. Also Hardeman Academy at Triune. Sisters went to school at Nashville.
28. About how long did you go to school altogether? About two or three years, going a few months at a time.
29. How far was it to the nearest school? About one mile from my residence.
30. What school or schools were in operation in your neighborhood? Hardeman Male & Female Academy. Former was a boarding school. Both were at Triune, Tennessee. Arrington Academy was eight miles farther, where my grandfather, Henry Moss, was teacher.
31. Was the school in your community private or public? Private, that is, supported by subscriptions. Anybody could go provided they had the money to pay for their tuition and furnish their board. There was very little free schooling then.
32. About how many months in the year did it run? About 7 or 8 months--am not sure on that--my recollection not clear--length of sessions were different in different communities.
33. Did the boys and girls in your community attend school pretty regularly? Yes. Some had to work, however, and attend school in intervals.
34. Was the teacher of the school you attended a man or a woman? Man. All teachers were men in schools I attended. Only female teachers were the music teachers.
35. In what year and month and at what place did you enlist in the Confederate or of the Federal Army? April 9 [May 9], 1861, at Franklin, Williamson County, Tenn. In Company "D", 1st Tenn. Regt. Went immediately to camp at Springfield, Robertson Co., Tenn. and drilled under Gen. Robt. C. Foster, till we were sent to Virginia to the Battle of Manassas. Battle closed just before we got there, and we were sent to the mountains of West Virginia.
36. After enlistment, where was your company sent first? See above.
37. How long after your enlistment before your Company engaged in battle? Five months.
38. What was the first battle you engaged in? Cheat Mountain, West Virginia.
39. State in your own way your experience in the from this time on until the close. State where you went after the first battle - what you did, what other battles you engaged in, how long they lasted, what the results were, state how you lived in camp, how you were clothed, how you slept, what you had to eat, how you exposed to cold hunger and disease. If you were in the hospital or in prison state your experience here.
Retreated back to Valley Mountain. From there to Sewell Mountain to fight Federals General Landers's force, encamped there. They gave us the slip the first night, after we had almost surrounded them; and go away without a fight. From there we went into winter quarters at Huntersville, Va. Before we could finish the quarters we were sent to Winchester. Shortly after this my regiment, the First Tennessee, was ordered back to Tennessee, and remained with the Western Army until the lose of the war.
I was in the following battles, in the order name: Cheat Mountain, Va; at the capture of Bath and Romney, Va; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Lavergne, Tenn.; Chickamauga, Ga.; Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge; Rock Face Ridge, Ga.; Resaca, Ga.; Adairsville, Ga.; New Hope, Ga.; Dallas, Ga.; Kennesaw Mountain, Ga.; The second day after this battle I was captured on picket line with many other who were cut off from our commands before we could cross the river. We were sent to Federal General Gary's headquarters immediately after surrendering. He advises us to take the oath and go home, which many of them did. I refused, and he said, "The go to prison and rot, damn you, as you will never be exchanged." I was sent to Marietta, Ga., took train from there to Nashville, Tennessee. There were 890 of us when we arrived there. I never saw any of the others again. I was sent to the Penitentiary alone in charge of two guards.
I did not understand why the others did not follow. The guards told me I could go with the others by taking the oath of allegiance to the United States, as all the others agreed to do. They kept me in a bull pen outside of the main building a month. Then they sent me to Camp Chase Prison. I arrived there August 12, 1864, and remained there until released by special order of President Lincoln, on June 9, 1865, nearly tow months after the president was assassinated. Don't know why the President's order was not obeyed earlier. General Richardson, commander of the post, told me the did not know the cause of the delay, unless it was due to assassination of the President in the April, two months before.
40. When and where were you discharged? At Camp Chase, Ohio. Took oath to support Federal Government there on June 9, 1865.
41. Tell something about your trip home: [Extra Sheet].
42. What kind of work did you take up when you came back home? Hauling wood for four months. Then started a small merchandise business. Sold out and went to Nashville, where I clerked for two years. Married and came to Jackson, Tennessee.
43. Give a sketch of your life since the close of the Civil War, stating what kind business you have engaged in , where you have lived, your church relations, etc. If you have held an office or offices state what is it was. You may state here nay other facts connected with life and experience which has not been brought out the the questions? 1866-1868-Clerk in dry goods store in Nashville. 1868-1872--had store in Denmark, Tenn. In Jackson, Tenn. from 1872 to present, as groceryman, clerk in wholesale house, traveled about ten years (for Smith & Stegall, wholesale groceries & liquors and cigars, 5 years; for R.B. Thompson & Co., of Louisville, two years). Ran Capitol Hotel since March 1, 1905, and am still running it. Was Postmaster of Jackson from 1890 to 1893 under Benjamin Harrison and again form 1897 to 1901 under Pres. McKinley. General Gary, Federal General before whom I was called when captured, and who told me to "Go to prison and rot, damn you" because I wouldn't take the oath of allegiance to the federal Government and go home, was Postmaster General when I was appointed Postmaster by President McKinley.
44. On a separate sheet, give the names of some of the great men you have know or men in your time, and tell some of the circumstances of the meeting or incidents in their lives. Also add may further personal reminiscences: -----
45. Give the names of all the members of your company you can remember. (If you know where the Roster is to be had, please make a special note of this.)
Goes on to list every member of the company, mentions he got the roster from George Nichols.
Company D Documents