Grover Head once told my father that whenever it rained, the boys in his neighborhood would head to Jeptha Moxley's house to hear tales of the Civil War. This would have been in the late 19th century/Turn of the 20th.
|Jeptha Moxley at the time of the Gold Rush|
By 1850, the family had moved from Franklin County to Livingston County. The family farm was valued at $1000 that year. The family also purchased a hotel in Smithland (then, a bustling river town). It was called the Gower House and the brick structure was damaged in a fire, but some of it still remains overlooking the river. In 1852, Jeptha's father, William, died of dysentery.
Jeptha married Nellie in 1850. By 1860, his farm at Moxley's landing was worth $2500, and they had three little girls, Emily, Rebecca, and Nancy. Their son, William Henry, had died of meningitis at the age of 1 in 1859. Another son, Jeptha L., was born in 1862. He died at the age of 15 due to pneumonia.
Jeptha Moxley was a slave owner. Perhaps, this was what compelled him so for the confederate cause. Whatever his reasons, within a week of Lincoln's inauguration, Moxley enlisted in the 2nd Ky Cavalry (Woodward's) on March 10, 1861. This was the day before the Confederate constitution was ratified and before the war began the following month. He had to travel to Huntsville, Alabama to enlist as Tennessee was still a part of the USA at the time. Jeptha's older brother, Joseph, was in his late 30's during the war and remained in Livingston County to manage the family farm and hotels.
Jeptha served with company E. When researching the war, one must be careful because there were multiple regiments named "2nd Ky Cavalry." The members of his troop had to supply their own horse and saddle. Jeptha was in his early 30's and literate. He moved up through the confederate ranks. He was listed as a Corporal by 1863 and was a Sergeant by the end of the war.
Woodward's Cavalry was respected and well used by commanding generals due to their tenacity and courage under fire. Early in the war, command of the regiment was transferred to millionaire-general Nathan Bedford Forrest. Many in the regiment were reluctant due to their loyalty to Woodward, but most continued with the 2nd Ky. They fought throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. He was involved in the battle of Chickamauga.
Jeptha had a minor bullet wound to the shoulder. He was with a group of soldiers set up for an ambush. They were in a small southern town with white picket fences and mossy oaks. They climbed up into the dense trees hanging over the street. Eventually, when the Yankee soldiers came down the street beneath them, they opened fire on the unsuspecting men. Jeptha received his wound in the fire fight.
Jeptha surrendered in May 9, 1865 in Washington, Ga. Stories say that the unit was transporting Jefferson Davis after the end of the war. Upon capture they were repatriated and allowed to keep their horses. However, at Nashville, they were under the whim of another commander who seized the horses. The soldiers were then allowed to leave and head for home on foot. In Nashville, he took his oath of allegiance on May 22. He was described as 5' 8", fair complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. Thus, Jeptha served and survived the entirety of the war in active service. He enlisted before the CSA was officially formed and was captured after the war was considered to be over.
|Jeptha and his second wife Maggie, |
and their sons John Given and Clyde
Nancy married B. H. Leven in 1876. She died still in her teens in 1879. Mary Rebecca married Atha Head in 1880. Jeptha Moxley passed his days as a farmer. His wife, Nellie, died in 1884. At that time, he had two adult daughters and grandchildren. I think it must have been surprising when he remarried at the age of 56. In 1886, He married Margaret Jane Champion a 30 year old widow who was just a few months older than Jeptha's daughter Mary Head. John Given Moxley was born the following year. His brother, Clyde, was born in 1889.
|Grave of Jeptha Moxley|
"Our father has gone to mansions of rest,
from a region of sorrow and pain,
To the glorious land by the Deity blest,
Where he never can suffer again.
Erected by Mary E Head TO HER FATHER"
His wife went on to marry four more times before dying of heart disease at the age of 80.