Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Orphans and Orphans: The Two Preston Moores

[Part 2. Part 1 Searching for Preston Moore]

Something just did not fit. There seemed to be too much information on this Zelig-like Preston; he was in too many places and they did not always fit together. He appeared to have been both in Fort Mifflin (following the Battle of Gettysburg) and among Confederate deserters picked up and incarcerated by Union forces in Nashville, Tennessee. Moreover, his enlistment with a Virginia unit (apparently the 37th Virginia Infantry Battalion) was puzzling, as I had no indication of the family having any recent connections to Virginia.

Judging by his father’s will and the 1870 census for South Carolina, Preston Moore did not return to South Carolina after the war. I checked the 1870 census for Preston Moore in Virginia, and it was unnerving to find him there, in Washington County: born around 1844 (close to the 1843 date indicated by the 1850 and 1860 censuses), with wife Mary. The census indicated that he could not read or write, but the 1860 census for Anderson County, South Carolina had indicated that he attended school, and I knew that his brother, my great-grandfather, could read and write. Too many puzzle pieces did not fit, and I began to suspect that there were actually two Preston Moores.

A search of the 1860 census in Virginia turned up a Preston Moore of the right age in Kanawha County. So could there have been two men named Preston Moore in the same unit? The “U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865” and “American Civil War Soldiers” databases contained the information that solved the puzzle: both men served in units with similar names - the “other” Preston Moore in the 37th Virginia Infantry, and “my” Preston E. Moore in the 37th Virginia Cavalry.

At about this time my generous “history husband” returned from a business trip in Pennsylvania with a gift: J. L. Scott’s 36th and 37th Battalions Virginia Cavalry (1986, H.E. Howard, Inc.). The 37th Virginia Cavalry was originally organized as Dunn’s Battalion, Partisan Rangers, with many recruits taken from the South Carolina counties of Greenville, Anderson, and Pickens, and was later mustered into service as regular cavalry – the 37th Virginia Cavalry – on 3 November 1862. Hence the appearance of a South Carolina man in a Virginia unit.

Preston was listed on the roster of the 37th Battalion Virginia Cavalry in Scott’s book:

“MOORE, PRESTON: enl. in Co. E. Deserted and took oath, Dec. 29, 1863, in Knoxville, Tenn.”

To complete Preston’s record of service, I returned to Footnote, which by this time had added more Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers for South Carolina. This time I found Preston E. Moore in the 2nd South Carolina Rifles, which was actually his first term of service:

- He was enlisted for service on 29 October 1861 by 1st Lt. Jo. Berry Sloan.

- He was recommended for discharge due to disability by O. M. Doyle, Asst. Surgeon, Moore’s Battalion.


Army of the Confederate States
Certificate of Disability for Discharge

Corpl. Preston E. Moore of Capt. D. L. Donnald’s Company F 1st Batt. Rifles Provisional Army was Enlisted by Lieut. Jo. Berry Slone of the 1st Regmt. of Rifles at Anderson Co. SC on the twenty ninth Day of October 1861 to serve for three years or during the war. He was born in Anderson Dist. State of South Carolina, is Eighteen Years of Age five feet five [inches] his fair Complected Blue Eyes Sandy hair and by Occupation when Enlisted a farmer. During the last two months said Soldier has been unfit for duty Thirty Days.

Camp Johnson…………………D. L. Donnald Capt.
May 1 1862……………………Commander Company]

- He was approved for a Certificate of Disability for Discharge by Company Commander Capt. D. L. Donnald and was discharged on 3 May 1862.


Camp [illegible]
May 1st, 1862

I certify that I have carefully examined the said Preston E. Moore of Captain Donnald’s Company, and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of general weakness – not having, in my opinion, sufficient vigor of constitution to enable him to discharge the duties incumbent on him as a soldier.

I think the welfare of the service requires that he be discharged.

O. M. Doyle
Asst. Surg.
Moore’s Battn.

Discharged from the service of the Confederate States May 3rd 1862
John V. Moore
SC 2nd Battn.

At some point after his discharge, he re-enlisted for a second term of service in the 37th Virginia Cavalry:

- He was on a List of Rebel Deserters who took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States Government “between Dec. 16 and 29, 1863, and, after confinement for a period of 10 days, were then released” – in his case, from Nashville on 11 January 1864.


M/37 Battalion/Va.
Preston E. Moore
Pvt. 37 Bt. Va. Cav.
Name appears as signature to an
Oath of Allegiance
to the United States, subscribed and sworn to before R. M. Goodwin, Capt. & Asst. Pro. Mar. Genl., Dept. Cumb., January 11, 1864.
Please of residence: Anderson Co., SC
Complexion: Fair; hair: Light
Eyes: Gray; height 5 ft. 6 in.
Indorsement shows: “Roll of Prisoners of war released on taking the oath of Allegiance at Nashville, Tenn., January 11, 1864.”
Hd. Qrs. Prov. Mar. Gen’l, Dept. of the Cumb’d, Nashville, Tenn.; Roll No. 521

Scott’s description of the conditions in Tennessee during the winter of 1863-64 (J.L. Scott , p. 57) make it easy to understand why so many Confederate soldiers deserted: “The 37th Cavalry and Jones’ Brigade were in poor condition. The winter had posed great hardship on the men and equipment. Many were without blankets, some were without shoes. Returning from Tennessee one man froze to death in the saddle and frostbite was common.”

- Illness was also common: Preston was admitted to the General Hospital of the U.S.A. on 11 January 1864 for acute diarrhea, transferred to the Provost Marshall on 13 January 1864, and released on that same day.

That is the last I know of Preston E. Moore.

I doubt if I will ever learn his ultimate fate: when and where he actually died and is buried. Some day I hope to visit the area of the Nashville battlefield, which has not been preserved but does have a few roadside historical markers. Preston may have been buried in an unmarked grave somewhere nearby, or he may have made it partway home to South Carolina, desperately ill and fighting the bitter cold, before he died.

I think of Preston every Memorial Day and remember him often at other times.

His name will not be forgotten.



Spencer Moore household, 1850 U.S. census, Anderson County, South Carolina, population schedule, Eastern subdivision, dwelling 637, family 633; National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, roll 848. Accessed via Ancestry.com.

Spencer Moore household, 1860 U.S. census, Anderson County, South Carolina, population schedule, 42nd Regiment, dwelling 951, family 961; National Archives Microfilm Publication M653, roll 1212. Accessed via Ancestry.com.

John D. Young household, 1860 U.S. census, Kanawha County, Virginia, population schedule, Clendennen Post Office, dwelling [not visible], family 387; National Archives Microfilm Publication M653, roll 1356. Accessed via Ancestry.com.

Henry Myers household, Preston Moore family, 1870 U.S. census, Washington County, Virginia, population schedule, North Fork township, dwelling 290, family 295; National Archives Microfilm Publication M593, roll 1681. Accessed via Ancestry.com.

Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, National Archives and Records Administration

Preston E. Moore, compiled military record (corporal, Company F, 2nd South Carolina Rifles): Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of South Carolina, Microfilm Publication M267. Accessed via Footnote.com.

Preston E. Moore, compiled military record (corporal, Company E, 37th Virginia Cavalry, variously listed as battalion and regiment): Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia, Microfilm Publication M324. Accessed via Footnote.com. (Note: I have not listed the records for the “other” Preston Moore separately because the two sets of records are listed together.)

Online Civil War Databases

Ancestry.com. Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M598, 145 rolls); War Department Collection of Confederate Records, Record Group 109; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Ancestry.com. Historical Data Systems, comp. American Civil War Soldiers [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Original data: Data compiled by Historical Data Systems of Kingston, MA.

National Park Service: Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. Online database (http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/).


J. L. Scott: 36th and 37th Battalions Virginia Cavalry. 1986, H.E. Howard, Inc.

Typescript of Will of William Spencer Moore, dated 25 July 1865. Copy provided by South Carolina Department of Archives and History,

Final note: This experience has taught me that reconstituting a Civil War service record is no small feat. Units changed – as attrition or recruitment dictated, they became smaller or larger units, disappeared, changed status from irregular to regular, or were swallowed up by other units, often with a different state affiliation; units also had many different nicknames and may have been most often referred to by their commanders’ names. A soldier’s name may have appeared in many different forms, and the records of different soldiers with the same name may have been combined. I have used and am continuing to use this experience in tracing some of my other “orphans” who perished in the Civil War.


  1. Greta, great job! I felt like I was reading a thriller mystery! Great Sluething.

  2. What a sad ending. You did a great job!

  3. Great read! A a great genie lesson on CW research!

  4. Joan, Debbie, and Carol - Thank you so much for your kind comments and encouragement. This is an article I have been longing to write for quite a while, and the subject is very dear to me.

  5. I have to wonder if his family ever heard what happened to him. It doesn't sound like he ever made it home. A very sad story, well written.

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  7. Loved this post. It shows so beautifully how to deal with records, especially records that tell you different things about the same person.

  8. You certainly have a way of crafting a story! What an excellent research job and a great tribute to Preston.

  9. Great story Greta, very sad, but most story's around that time would be sad. Thanks for helping me with my research...