World War I -- Life Histories/Section 019/James A. Moseley

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Photograph of James Moseley's commander during his time at Plattsburg

Overview[edit]

James A. Moseley was a North Carolina native who moved to New Jersey during his early life. Moseley died in the line of duty during the First World War. His longtime friend Lucy Kent Chappell donated their correspondences to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Biography[edit]

Early Life[edit]

James Alexander Moseley, the son of Annie Conigland Moseley , was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on June 4, 1894.[1] During his early life Moseley moved to 56 Douglas Road in Glen Ridge New Jersey, an upper middle class suburb near Newark. It was in this house that Moseley was later reunited with his longtime friend Lucy Kent Chappell, with whom he would exchange a great many letters during the course of his life.

Education[edit]

Moseley left his home in New Jersey to attend Yale University. At Yale he excelled in English and became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Scholarship Society. While earning his degree, Moseley was also a member of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity. Moseley graduated from Yale in 1915. Between May and November 1917 Moseley attended an officer training school in Plattsburg New York.

Pre-War Career[edit]

Between his graduation from Yale and his training at Plattsburg, Moseley worked as a cotton trader in New York City.

Military Career[edit]

Moseley received his first commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Reserves on May 4, 1917. Following a brief period of civilian life after receiving an honorable discharge at his request, Moseley was again commissioned, this time at the rank of First Lieutenant. Planning to return to Yale to further his education after the war, Moseley went to France as an officer in the 166th infantry, in command of “C” Company. During an artillery barrage on July 15, 1918 near Suippe France Moseley pulled a wounded corporal from his platoon 400 yards to cover. Moseley lost his life during an artillery barrage on July 26, 1918.[2] After his death, Moseley’s mother received a distinguished service cross on her son’s behalf for his heroic actions on July 15.

Distinguished Service Cross[edit]

Created by the 65th Congress on June 9, 1918, the Distinguished Service Cross is the United States Army’s second highest honor.[3] The criteria to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross includes “acts of heroism must have been so notable and have involved risk of life so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his comrades.”[4] The Distinguished Service Cross must be awarded no more than three years after the event for which it would be awarded. The last Distinguished Service Cross to be awarded for actions in the First World War was awarded to the Unknown Soldier on November 11, 1921.[5] This honor was awarded to soldiers in later conflicts and is still given to service men and women who “distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of a Medal of Honor while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States”[6]

Plattsburg[edit]

Plattsburg New York was the sight of a Universal Military Training Program that was established in the summer of 1913 as a way for college graduates and businessmen receive small amounts of military training.[7] Those attending the camp paid to received four months of military training over the course of a few weeks.[8] The Plattsburg camps continued into the Great War as a training ground for reserve officers.[9] By September 1915 the camp had over 600 attendees.[10] After the United States entered the war in April of 1917, Plattsburg became a far more serious military training camp. On April 29, 1917 Colonel Paul Wolfe became the post commandment at Plattsburg.[11] Two weeks after Wolfe’s assignment to the camp 5,800 men arrived seeking training prior to going overseas.[12] Plattsburg’s rapid growth was not without some difficulty. The camp grew so fast that the New York Times reported a rifle range so crowded men had to rise before dawn to begin target practice and barracks still without roofs only days before men were supposed to arrive.[13] Graduates of the Plattsburg camps were valuable assets during the First World War, bringing some military experience to an otherwise inexperienced American army.[14]

References[edit]

  1. James Moseley, Letter to Lucy Kent Chappell, June 5, 1917.
  2. Annie Conigland Moseley, Telegram to Lucy Kent Chappell, September 19, 1918.
  3. “Distinguished Service Cross” (578.10, 7-1-2008). National Defense, Volume 3, Chapter V, 2008.
  4. “Distinguished Service Cross” (578.10, 7-1-2008). National Defense, Volume 3, Chapter V, 2008.
  5. “LAST HERO MEDALS AWARDED,” New York Times (New York, NY), Nov. 13, 1921.
  6. “Distinguished Service Cross” (578.10, 7-1-2008). National Defense, Volume 3, Chapter V, 2008.
  7. Richard Stewart, American Military History (Washington D.C.: United States Army, 2005, 22. Ibid.
  8. Richard Stewart, American Military History (Washington D.C.: United States Army, 2005, 22. Ibid.
  9. Hallenbeck Wynkoop, Plattsburger (Plattsburg New York: Crawford co., 1917), 13
  10. “PLATTSBURG CAMP READY,” New York Times (New York, NY), May 12, 1917.
  11. Hallenbeck Wynkoop, Plattsburger (Plattsburg New York: Crawford co., 1917), 13
  12. Hallenbeck Wynkoop, Plattsburger (Plattsburg New York: Crawford co., 1917), 13
  13. “PLATTSBURG CAMP REOPENS,” New York Times (New York, NY), Feb. 13, 2009.
  14. Richard Stewart, American Military History (Washington D.C.: United States Army, 2005, 22. Ibid.