The following article, edited, appeared as the final installment of my Collateral Damage/In Harm’s Way column in Civil War Times, back in 2011. I post it upon receiving news of the passing today of the actress Mary Tyler Moore:
Despite his advanced years, the news still came as a shock to the people of Winchester. Around noon, just a few days after Christmas, 1897, townspeople saw octogenarian “Colonel” Lewis Tilghman Moore fall while walking along Rouss Avenue not far from his home on Braddock Street. He lay on the ground motionless and unconscious. They summoned medical assistance, but to no avail. The retired lawyer passed away quietly, the doctors pronouncing “death due to paralysis.”
L. T. Moore was born in 1815 or 1816 – records to that effect are unclear – in Loudoun County, VA. In 1840, he moved as a bachelor to Winchester, studied law, passed the bar, and began his practice in that town. Except for a brief stint as a Virginia state attorney in Winchester, he held no public office. He was active in the Masonic Lodge and local militia, and rose to the rank of Major in the antebellum 35th Regiment of Virginia Militia. He appears to have been present at Harper’s Ferry in command of militia troops during the John Brown raid in 1859.
Still a bachelor, on April 1, 1856 Moore purchased out-lot number 52 from William McP. Fuller, a dentist. In 1854, Fuller had constructed a dwelling on the property, a Hudson River Gothic Revival cottage called “Alta Vista”. The two story, six-room house featured a panoramic view across Winchester, and was accented with diamond-pane windows, scrolled wood trim and tin roof.
After Virginia’s secession from the Union in 1861, Moore became Lt. Colonel of the Fourth Virginia Infantry. The Fourth joined the Second, Fifth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-third Virginia regiments under the command of Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson. At the battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861, during a back and forth struggle for possession of Union artillery on Henry House Hill, Moore was seriously wounded in the knee. Reports of his death in the battle proved exaggerated, but he would limp for the rest of his life, and never again took the field.
Moore recovered from his wound in Edinburg, south of Winchester. In November 1861, when he learned that his former brigade commander was establishing the headquarters of his Valley District, Department of Northern Virginia, in Winchester, the absentee owner of “Alta Vista” offered his home for Jackson’s use. The Major General now known as Stonewall accepted. He had been staying at the Taylor Hotel – partially owned by Moore – in the center of town, and he found it too crowded and conspicuous for his needs. Moore’s home on Braddock Street would serve as Jackson’s headquarters in Winchester until the Confederates evacuated on March 11, 1862.
Jackson left a vivid account of “Alta Vista” in a letter to his wife, Anna:
“This house belongs to Lieutenant-Colonel Moore, of the Fourth Virginia Volunteers, and has a large yard around it. The situation is beautiful. The building is of cottage style and contains six rooms. I have two rooms, one above the other. My lower room, or office, has a matting on the floor, a large fine table, six chairs, and a piano. The walls are papered with elegant gilt paper. I don’t remember to have ever seen more beautiful papering, and there are five paintings hanging on the walls. If I only had my little woman here, the room would be set off. The upper room is neat, but not a full story, and is, I may say, only remarkable for being heated in a peculiar manner, by a flue from the office below.”
Jackson’s staff slept in the bedroom across the hall from his own, but the fraternity life in the house ended, and Jackson’s office on the first floor of Moore’s home was indeed “set off.” Anna travelled from the Jackson home in Lexington via Richmond. The General met her upon her arrival at the Taylor Hotel on the evening of December 21, 1861, and took her to Alta Vista. They stayed in the house until January 1, 1862, when Jackson left on the Romney Campaign. Anna moved two doors down to the home of Reverend and Mrs. James Graham. When Jackson returned to Winchester, he and his wife stayed with the Grahams. Anna became pregnant in February, and their daughter Julia was born the following November.
Lewis T. Moore returned to his home at 415 North Braddock St. He married Mary Bragonier, a woman nearly 30 years his junior, in 1867, and they had five children. Moore, who was known to all as “Colonel”, built a large practice consisting of primarily lower income clients. He was active in the Hiram Masonic Lodge and the Confederate Veterans’ Ashby Camp. He lived at “Alta Vista” until his death, and was laid to rest in Winchester’s Hebron Cemetery on December 31, 1897.
One of the resolutions passed by the Hiram Lodge in the Winchester News after his death read “Pure in heart, he was unsuspecting and easily deceived.” Interestingly, the only mention of Lewis T. Moore in “The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion” is in a dispatch from a Union spy, Michael Graham, to Union Major General Robert Milroy in May 1863. While describing Moore as a “rebel of the strongest dye”, the spy noted, “he has great confidence in me, and thinks I am a rebel at heart, as I pretended to be once in his presence.” The information Graham had gleaned from Moore stated that Lt. General James Longstreet’s corps had reinforced the Army of Northern Virginia, and General Robert E. Lee intended to move north into Maryland.
Today Alta Vista is owned by the City of Winchester, managed by the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, and maintained as a museum. The heating ducts from Jackson’s office to his bedroom are still there. The gilt wallpaper that Jackson so admired in his office has been twice reproduced and hung on the walls, most recently courtesy of “Colonel” Moore’s great-granddaughter, the actress Mary Tyler Moore.
Thanks to Mr. Jerry Holsworth of the Handley Regional Library, Ms. Cissy Shull of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, and Mr. Ben Ritter for their assistance.