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Thomas Moonlight

1833 - 1899

Thomas Moonlight
©2019 Gazetteer for Scotland

Thomas Moonlight

Soldier, politician and diplomat. Born at Boysack Muir (Angus), the son of a farmer, Moonlight began as an apprentice draper in Arbroath. However, after a year, he left for Dundee where he joined the crew of a ship bound for Philadelphia. In the USA took a variety of short-term jobs before enlisting in the army. Leaving the army in 1858, he was able to buy his own farm in Leavenworth County, Kansas. On the outbreak of the American Civil War, Moonlight raised a battery and re-entered the army as a Captain. Commended for bravery at the Battle of Dry Wood Creek (1861), he was also present at the Battles of Pea Ridge (1862), Little Blue River and Westport (1864). The same year he became a Colonel of the 11th Kansas Cavalry and took command of Fort Laramie in Wyoming, an unsuccessful tour of duty during which he callously hanged two Indian chiefs who had come to the fort on a peaceful mission thus extending hostilities. He was promoted again to Brigadier-General in 1865.

In 1868 he was elected Secretary of State for Kansas. He served as Kansas' Adjutant General of Kansas (1883-4) and, having been unsuccessful in his bid to become Governor of Kansas (1886), was appointed as Territorial Governor of Wyoming by President Grover Cleveland, serving from 1887-9. He was appointed US Minister to Bolivia (1895-7) during Cleveland's second administration.

Moonlight died at Leavenworth, Kansas, where he lies buried at Mount Muncie Cemetery.

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