Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Virgil Henry Moats Papers, 1862-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, March 1997

Summary Information
Title: Virgil Henry Moats papers
Creator: Moats, Eliza Richardson, b. 1833
Inclusive dates: 1862-1865
Extent: 18 items
During the fall of 1861, Virgil Moats assisted in organizing a company of infantry at Camp Dennison, Ohio, accepting a commission as Captain when the regiment was formally admitted into service in December. His letters include accouts of the Battle of Shiloh, and useful information on Chickasaw Bluffs, Port Gibson, and Arkansas Post. The majority of Moats' letters were written during the Vicksburg Campaign.
Language: The material is in English.
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1986. M-2307.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.


Copyright status is unknown.


The Moats papers were donated to the Clements Library in 1986 by Edward Walker.

Preferred Citation:

Virgil Henry Moats Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Moats, Virgil Henry, 1827-1863

Rank : Captain, Major (1863 February 21)

Regiment : 48th Ohio Infantry Regiment. Co. F (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 October 15-1863 July 11

Virgil Henry Moats was born May 5, 1827, in Licking County, Ohio, the son of William Virgil (1799-1881) and Mary S. (d. 1873) Moats. The eldest of six children, Moats' siblings included a brother, Homer, who died in the Civil War, and siblings Edwin Bruce, William Wallace, Lydia S. (later Mrs. Medkirk) and Harriet.

As a young man, Moats moved to Defiance Co., Ohio, where he married Sarah McKinney of Newark. They had two children, Franklin Wallace (b. 1850) and Rowena, who died in infancy. Sarah died on May 13, 1854, and in the following June (1855), Virgil married Eliza Richardson (b. February 6, 1833). The couple had four more children: William Henry (1856), Hattie (1858-61), Douglas (1860) and Charles Virgil (1861).

A farmer, Moats established a local reputation as a solid citizen, assuming various public responsibilities as a schoolteacher, Justice of the Peace, and county Sheriff. During the Mexican War, he enlisted in a cavalry company raised at Newark, Ohio, and whatever else this experience may have done, it provided him with a degree of authority when it came to military matters.

During the fall of 1861, Moats assisted in organizing a company of infantry at Camp Dennison, Ohio, accepting a commission as Captain of Company F, 48th Ohio Infantry, when the regiment was formally admitted into the service in December. The 48th Ohio were ordered into the field during the winter, and saw their first significant action at the Battle of Shiloh, where they formed part of the fourth brigade of the Fifth Division commanded by William T. Sherman. Moats led his company through two days of intense fire at Shiloh, his regiment sustaining over 100 casualties. Still under Sherman's command, the regiment took part in the pursuit of Confederate forces to Corinth, Miss., and thereafter took part in the Vicksburg Campaign, including the Battles at Chickasaw Bluffs and Port Gibson, and the independent expedition to Arkansas Post. In recognition of his service, Moats was promoted to Major of the regiment in April, 1863. In the following month, Moats was wounded during the second assault on the Confederate lines at Vicksburg, and died of his wounds on July 11 after being sent to hospital in Cincinatti.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The survivng Civil War correspondence of Virgil Moats covers only fourteen months of his military career, March 1862 to May 1863. While these 18 letters represent only a fraction of his correspondence, even during this period, they include important accounts of the Battle of Shiloh, and useful information on Chickasaw Bluffs, Port Gibson, and Arkansas Post. The majority of Moats' letters were written during the Vicksburg Campaign. His letter of May 8, 1863, was written from the town of Rocky Springs, Miss., then a bustling town about forty miles inland from the river, though today it is reduced to a ghost town.

In addition to Moats' letters are three letters by two of Eliza's brothers: John E. Richardson, a sergeant in Co. F, wrote from Vicksburg to the convalescing Virgil, then in a Cincinnati hospital, and Lay Whitney Richardson, a soldier in the 68th Ohio Infantry, wrote Eliza two letters in 1864 and 1865.

Subject Terms

    • United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 48th (1861-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Arkansas Post (Ark.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Chickasaw Bluffs, Battle of, 1862.
    • Port Gibson, Battle of, Port Gibson, Miss., 1863.
    • Shiloh, Battle of, Tenn., 1862.
    • Moats, Virgil Henry, 1827-1863.
    • Richardson, John E.
    • Richardson, Lay Whitney.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   31, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Virgil Henry Moats papers,  1862 February 11-1865 January 8 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Moats, Virgil Henry. Shiloh to Vicksburg (Pebble Beach, Calif., n.d.).

    Bering, John A. History of the Forty-eighth Ohio vet. vol. inf ... (S.l., 1890)

    Gerr, John James. Behind the lines; or, a Yankee prisoner loose in Dixie ... (Philadelphia, 1863).

    Partial Subject Index
    Arkansas Post, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 January 12
    Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
    • 1864 August 4
    • 1862 March 23
    • 1862 October 2
    • 1862 March 23
    Chickasaw Bluffs (Miss.), Battle of, 1862.
    • 1863 January 3
    • 1863 January 3
    • 1862 October 2
    Memphis (Tenn.)--Description and travel.
    • 1862 December 22
    • 1863 April 17
    Port Gibson, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 May 8
    Rocky Springs (Miss.)
    • 1863 May 8
    • 1862 December 22
    Shiloh, Battle of, 1862.
    • 1862 April 9
    • 1863 January 12
    Vicksburg Campaign, 1863.
    • 1863 January 3
    • 1863 April 17
    • 1863 May 8
    • passim
    Yazoo River (Miss.)--Description and travel.
    • 1862 December 22