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OLD SORREL—A condensation of a monograph by his great grandson, Rev. Robert E. Walker.
By Orrin Manifold
Source: NMHS Newsletter, Nov 1986

Old Sorrel is the 1985 account of Gilbert Moore, a Chester Township farmer and American Civil War soldier. At the age of 43, father of eleven children, he enlisted in the Union Army, fought in Tennessee, was captured, and died in Andersonville Prison. The account was researched and written by his great grandson, Rev. Robert E. Walker. Moore was known as “Old Sorrel” because of his red hair.

Born in Rush County and married there in 1842, he and his wife, Delilah, and several other families moved the next year to Wabash County near Treaty, and then in 1856 he purchased an 80 acre farm in Chester Township.

After the Civil War broke out the Moores’ oldest son, John, enrolled in Company D, 47th Indiana Volunteers of Infantry. Two of his brothers would also serve in Company D. In August, 1862, Gilbert Moore enrolled in Company F, 101st Regiment of Infantry Indiana Volunteers. He was probably recruited by Captain Benjamin Williams of Wabash. In those days a well known man could enlist men and be elected by them as an officer. The regiment met August 16 in Wabash for organization, speech making, and flag waving. Joseph, age 18, and Jacob, 16, were old enough to carry on the farm work.

On September 2 the regiment boarded the train in Wabash in high spirits. At Noblesville late in the evening local people fed them chickens and turkeys, cakes and pies, melons and good coffee. They were officially mustered into the army September 5 at Camp Morton in Indianapolis, and each man received a uniform, a blanket, gun, haversack, and canteen. He had to furnish his own cup, plate, knife, fork, spoon, and skillet.

Gilbert Moore-Civil War SoldierTwo days later they left by train for Covington, Kentucky, to protect Cincinnati, which was being threatened by Rebel General Kirby Smith. When he did not come, the regiment boarded a steamer on the Ohio River and sailed to Louisville, Kentucky. While in Kentucky for the next several weeks, they found an occasion to visit Mammoth Cave. They engaged in action against “Morgan the Raider,” discouraging him from a Christmas raid into southern Indiana and Ohio.

In the next months there was brisk action in central Tennessee against General Morgan and a concerted campaign in late June to drive the Rebels out of central Tennessee. The northern troops pushed on towards Chattanooga, where control of the railroads there was the key to the whole area. Heavy rains over a considerable period of time made nasty weather. Often the men had to wade rivers and creeks that had overflowed their banks. Several men died in the hospitals around Murfreesboro.

Confederate General Braxton Bragg, commander at Chattanooga, decided to make a stand along Chickamauga Creek, a few miles from Chattanooga. The battle continued for two days. The night between was cold, but there could be no fires which would reveal their locations to the enemy. In the outcome of the two day battle the northern forces were defeated; but General Bragg did not follow up on his victory, so the Union Army claimed Chattanooga and held control of communications and transportation. This made possible the capture of Atlanta a year later and Sherman’s March to the sea.


On the first of the two days the 101st from Indiana plunged into the battle about noon. About 2:30 p.m. Confederate General Alexander Stewart made an attack which pushed the Union army back in this section. Lt. Richard Busick was wounded and an officer ordered Corporal Gilbert Moore to stay with him. When the Union Army pulled back, Moore “refused to leave the lieutenant and was taken prisoner by the Rebels”—as was also lt. Busick.

From the battlefield he was sent to a prison in Richmond--probably by way of Atlanta and Augusta, since the Union forces controlled any direct route. He arrived there September 29. It is not known in which of the five prisons he was confined. Most of the prisons there were brick tobacco warehouses, two or three stories high. In October General Robert E. Lee suggested that there were too many prisoners in Richmond, so six brick or wooden tobacco factories in Danville, Virginia, were hastily readied to receive prisoners. Gilbert Moore and William Busick were sent to one of these Danville prisons December 12, 1863. That day a smallpox epidemic swept through the city.

At some later time—perhaps in early march, 1864—Moore and Busick were transferred to the Andersonville, Georgia, prison. A double stockade of twenty foot pine longs enclosed 26 ½ acres. Stockade Creek—about five feet across and a foot deep—was used for bathing, cooking, drinking, washing clothes, and flushing out the sinks. As the war continued and the prison population grew larger, the food deteriorated. In all, 12,912 men who were imprisoned there died and were buried in the cemetery. Disease was common—particularly scurvy, diarrhea, gangrene, and dysentery.

Scurvy makes one’s extremities swell to twice their size and the patient’s teeth often become loosed and fall out. It is reported of Gilbert Moore that “three hours before his death he pulled out his teeth, then checked into the Prison Hospital where he died that same day,” probably September 4, 1864, two days after Atlanta surrendered to General Sherman.

Note: The above photograph of "Old Sorrel" in Civil War uniform is from the collection of Nancy J. Reed. Gilbert Moore was Nancy's ggggrandfather.