World War I -- Life Histories/Section 019/James Alexander Moseley

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Early Life[edit]

James Alexander Moseley, the son of Annie Conigland Moseley, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1894. 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 Chappel, with whom he would exchange a great many letters during the course of his life.


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, James, known by his friends as Jim, 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.

Military Career[edit]

After completing his training, Moseley became a commissioned officer in the Army. Planning to return to Yale to further his education after the war, Moseley went to France in as a First Lieutenant in the 166th infantry, in command of “C” Company. Moseley lost his life during an artillery barrage on July 26, 1918. After his death, Moseley’s mother received a distinguished service cross on her son’s behalf because of his actions close to Suippe France on July 15, 1918.

The Distinguished Service Cross[edit]

Created by the 65th Congress on June 9, 1918, the Distinguished Service Cross was an award to recognize “extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.” The Award was created after General Pershing recommended that an award be created to recognize soldiers other than the Medal of Honor. His recommendation was likely influenced by the European armies that already had a similar award. The fact that this award is considered the second highest military honor means its recipients had to do something highly commendable and heroic for it to be awarded to them.


Prior to and during American involvement in the First World War, many American men began training for military service. Trained officers were needed to lead the inexperienced American Army into battle against the more experienced German Army. Established as a training ground for reserve officers, Plattsburg New York was the sight of a new type of American military training program. The men educated in this program experienced a type of training that would usually take months that was condensed into only a few weeks. The training included US Military training, teaching Canadian military tactics tactics, and ethics training. The Canadian tactics taught at Plattsburg were those implemented by the first Canadian expeditionary force. This force is the one that is responsible for taking Vimy Ridge, a feat not able to be accomplished by either the British or the French. The battle of Vimy Ridge is the battle for which the poem Flanders Field is written.