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Collateral Damage: Stonewall’s Winchester Headquarters

By Harry Smeltzer
9/19/2017 • Civil War Times Magazine

“Roughing it” is frequently a necessity in military life, but for Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson the offer to move from a crowded hotel to more comfortable quarters was too generous to pass up in November 1861. Jackson had just arrived in Winchester, Virginia, to take control of the newly formed Valley District of the Department of Northern Virginia.

When local resident Lewis Tilghman Moore, who had served under Jackson at the First Battle of Manassas, learned his former commander had established his headquarters at the bustling Taylor Hotel—right in the center of town—Moore quickly offered up his home at 415 Braddock Street as a much more pleasant venue. Moore was away from home at the time, recuperating in nearby Edinburg from a serious knee wound he had suffered in the fighting on Henry Hill at First Manassas.

Jackson was immediately taken by the Gothic revival–style cottage known as Alta Vista, which looked out over a breathtaking panorama of hillsides near Winchester. While living there between November 1861 and March 11, 1862, Jackson would plan both the Romney Expedition and his legendary Valley Campaign, which helped cement his place as a Confederate icon.

Jackson’s affection for Alta Vista was clear in one of the letters he penned to his wife, Anna:

This house belongs to Lieutenant Colonel Moore, of the Fourth Virginia Volunteers, and has a large yard around it. The situation is beautiful. The building is of cottage style and contains six rooms. I have two rooms, one above the other. My lower room, or office, has a matting on the floor, a large fine table, six chairs, and a piano. The walls are papered with elegant gilt paper. I don’t remember to have ever seen more beautiful papering, and there are five paintings hanging on the walls. If I only had my little woman here, the room would be set off. The upper room is neat, but not a full story, and is, I may say, only remarkable for being heated in a peculiar manner, by a flue from the office below.

For a time Jackson’s staff slept in the bedroom across the hall from his own, but that ended when Anna, who had been living in Lexington, Va., joined him in Winchester. She arrived on December 21, 1861, and they stayed in the house until January 1, when Jackson embarked on what became known as the Romney Expedition. Anna then moved two houses away, to the home of the Rev. and Mrs. James Graham. When Jackson later returned to Winchester in mid-January, both he and his wife stayed with the Grahams, though he maintained his headquarters at Alta Vista. Anna became pregnant in February, and their daughter, Julia, was born the following November.

Moore, who was born either in 1815 or 1816 in Loudoun County, Va., had moved to Winchester in 1840, where he established a successful legal practice. Except for a brief stint as a state attorney, he held no public office. But he rose to the rank of major in the antebellum Virginia Militia’s 35th Regiment. He was reportedly in Harpers Ferry in October 1859, commanding militia troops during John Brown’s Raid.

On April 1, 1856, Moore purchased Alta Vista from William McP. Fuller, a Winchester dentist who had built the home two years earlier. After Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, Moore became lieutenant colonel of the 4th Virginia Infantry. The 4th fought under Jackson along with the 2nd, 5th, 27th and 33rd Virginia Infantry regiments. At First Manassas that July, during the afternoon struggle for possession of Union artillery on Henry Hill, Moore was shot in the knee and initially reported to have been killed.

Though Moore survived, his wound—which resulted in a permanent limp—ended his military service. He eventually returned to his home in Winchester, where he lived until his death. In 1867 he married Mary Bragonier, who was nearly 30 years his junior, and they had five children. Known to all as “Colonel,” Moore built a large practice consisting primarily of lower-income clients. He was active in the Hiram Masonic Lodge, as well as the Confederate Veterans’ Ashby Camp.

In 1897, just a few days after Christmas, Moore fell to the ground as he was walking along Rouss Avenue, not far from Alta Vista. He never regained consciousness and soon died. A resolution by the Hiram Lodge, published in the Winchester News, remarked: “Pure in heart, he was unsuspecting and easily deceived.” That was apparently a reference to the only mention of Lewis T. Moore in The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, in a May 1863 dispatch from Union spy Michael Graham to Union Maj. Gen. Robert Milroy. Describing Moore as a “rebel of the strongest dye,” Graham boasted, “he has great confidence in me, and thinks I am a rebel at heart, as I pretended to be once in his presence.” Graham learned from Moore that the Army of Northern Virginia had been reinforced by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s Corps and that Robert E. Lee was preparing to move his army north in what would become the Gettysburg Campaign.

Today Alta Vista is a museum, owned by the city of Winchester and managed by the Winchester–Frederick County Historical Society. The heating ducts from Jackson’s office to his bedroom are still there. The wallpaper that Jackson so admired has been twice reproduced and hung on the walls, most recently courtesy of “Colonel” Moore’s great-granddaughter, actress Mary Tyler Moore.

 

Thanks to Jerry Holsworth of the Handley Regional Library, Cissy Shull of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society and Ben Ritter for their assistance with this article.

Originally published in the October 2011 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here

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