Richmond Dispatch, 6/1/1889

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From the Richmond Dispatch, 6/1/1889

His Illness Very Brief One - Sketch of His Life - Services in Two Armies.

Dr. Samuel P. Moore died after a short illness at his residence, No. 202 west Grace street, yesterday morning at 1:15 o’clock.

He came to Richmond at the beginning of the war as the Surgeon-General of the Confederate States army and had ever since resided here. He was the most distinguished officer of the southern cause remaining in our midst, and in any crowd of men would have been notable. Though but little above the medium height and somewhat slight of figure, he bore himself as erectly as a West Point cadet. In all his movements there were evidences of his long military experience. His face was finely modeled, and his head was richly covered with white hair that was curly and silken to a remarkable degree. He usually shaved his chin and allowed the beard on the sides of his face to grow long. Altogether his appearance was that of an elderly man with whom time had dealt gently and whose interest in life was undiminished. In conversation he was very bright. In greeting old friends he had nearly always a facetious remark, and his observations on men and things were racy without unkindness.


Dr. Moore was born at Charleston, S. C., seventy-four years ago, and after receiving a first-rate education entered upon the practice of medicine, and was appointed an assistant surgeon in the United States army in 1835. Here he remained until February, 1861, when in obedience to the call of his native State he resigned his commission and entered her service.

In the old army he had attained the rank of major and full surgeon and had served at the West Point Military Academy, in the war with Mexico, and on the frontier when that life was full of hardship and peril and when the Indians instead of being, as now, a few scattered and broken-spirited bands were powerful and often on the war-path.

His life was brimful of adventure. The record of it if it could be unfolded would read like a volume of romance; but he hated anything like brag, and except to the innermost circle of his friends was rarely ever heard to talk of occurrences in which he was conspicuous.

In Mexico his conduct was distinguished not only by gallantry, but by great skill and success in the management of the exceedingly important trusts committed to his charge.

Such was his rank and distinction that when the Confederacy was formed President Davis, who had known him long and well, appointed him to the office of Surgeon-General.


The place assigned Dr. Moore was one of vast responsibility.

With resources sorely inadequate for the prosecution of a great war, particularly deficient in hospital-stores and trained surgeons and nurses, the Confederacy found itself in direful need of great organizers, and Dr. Moore proved to be a suitable man for the Surgeon-General’s office.

After the battle of Seven Pines - the first conflict at arms which awakened us to an accurate conception of what war really was - sick and wounded began to pour into Richmond by the thousands. Not only the hospitals were filled, but hundreds of private houses, while many wounded had to lie in the streets until accommodations could be hastily provided for them.

The brunt of all the work to call order out of chaos fell upon this deceased gentleman.

It was a fearful task; a prodigious responsibility. That he performed his part as well as any one could there is no denying. If the service fell short, as it did, it was because it was impossible for the Surgeon-General and his corps to conjure up in a day vast hospitals and assemble hundreds of doctors and battalions of nurses.

Such was his work. His supervision was required not only in Virginia, but in all the South.


Dr. Moore was a strict disciplinarian. He enforced, as far as he was able, the rigid rules of the old service. Upon men fresh from the unbounded liberties of civil life these regulation seemed intolerable tyranny. Many were the murmurs, but the Doctor knew better than the complainants what a great war meant, and he was inexorable in the maintenance of discipline. Had he sought mere popularity he would have pursued an easy, “go-as-you-please” course; but he was for serving his country, and many competent to judge have declared that the medical department was the best-managed department in the Confederacy. Certainly some of the disaster that befell our cause could have been averted had discipline as strict as he enforced everywhere prevailed.


The war over, the southern country uprooted by reconstruction and overrun by the blacks, the Doctor determined to continue his home in Richmond, and he purchased the house No. 202 west Grace street, in which he had ever since resided. With a fortune ample for his wants he paid little attention to the practice of medicine, preferring to spend the remainder of his life at ease.

The first public position he held after the close of hostilities was as a member of the Executive Board of the Virginia Agricultural Society. He entered this in 1874 under the presidency of Colonel W. C. Knight, and remained until 1881. His services in connection with our fairs were valuable, and he was always a striking figure in the crowds on the grounds during the exhibitions.


Dr. Moore was elected to the School Board in 1877, and was a member until his death.

He was chairman of the Committee on Teachers and Schools, and every morning went to the Superintendent’s office at the High School and talked over matters pertaining to the public-school system, in which he took great pride.

At the last meeting of the board he urged the introduction into the schools of instruction in mechanical drawing; also the teaching and practice of music, as a means of developing the childrens’ lungs, and was a great advocate of technical education generally.

He had written several papers with the view of aiding near-sighted pupils in their studies, and was the author of a system of tests of eyesight, with the purpose of having teachers so locate pupils in school-rooms, as to be able to give weak-eyed ones the best advantages from light and nearness to blackboards.

His last visit to the Superintendent’s office was on Thursday morning. For some months past it had been remarked at the office that he was falling in powers, and this was attributed to an illness which he had about a year ago, from which he had not permanently recovered; but on Thursday he was more than usually sprightly, and talked with great interest on the forthcoming High-School commencement, in arranging for which he had spent a great deal of time.


He was there from 11 to 12 o’clock and then left for home. He ate dinner about 5 o’clock and retired apparently in as good health as usual about 11.

About midnight he alarmed his wife by a violent fit of coughing, and as home remedies were of no avail Doctors Davis and Lewis were soon summoned. They concluded that he was suffering from congestion of the lungs, complicated with other troubles. They gave him the most assiduous attention, but he grew worse steadily, and at 1:15 A. M. died. He was conscious up to within a short time of his death, but was thought to be not aware of his extremity, though several times of late he had said he was sure he would not live much longer.

Dr. Moore had for years been a great sufferer from neuralgia in the face, and the only relief he could secure when it was upon him was from the use of chloroform, a vial of which he often carried in his pocket.


Deceased married a Miss Brown, whose father was an army officer and whose sister is the wife on General Van Vliet, of the United States army. Three children were born to Dr. and Mrs. Moore - a daughter, who died a good many years ago. A son, Preston, married a daughter of Mr. John C. Steger, and he has been dead several years. The wife of Mr. Howard R. Bayne, now of New York, formerly of Richmond, is their daughter.

Mr. Bayne was telegraphed to yesterday morning, and replied that he and Mrs. Bayne would leave for Richmond on the earliest train.

Unless something occurs to alter the present plans the funeral will take place Sunday morning at 9 o’clock from Grace Episcopal church, of which deceased was a communicant.

The interment will be in the family section at Hollywood. A representative of the family who spoke for Mrs. Moore yesterday asked the Dispatch to state that in deference to the often-expressed wishes of Dr. Moore friends were requested not to send flowers for the coffin.


In August, 1884, upon motion of General John R. Cooke, Dr. Moore was elected a member of the Lee Camp.

In the blank form provided for applicants to fill out Dr. Moore, under his own signature, stated that he was born at Charleston, S. C.; was sixty-nine years of age (in August, 1884), and entered the medical service of the Confederacy in June, 1861, and there continued until the surrender.

The office of the Surgeon-General was on the second floor of the Mechanics’ Institute building (it was on Ninth street facing Bank), right-hand side going up. Dr. Charles H. Smith was his first assistant.


Three weeks ago, in conversation with Mayor Ellyson, Dr. Moore said that for a year past he had been aware he was rapidly failing. He added that it need not cause any surprise if, at any time, he were to go off like a flash.


Mrs. Moore’s father was Major Brown, of the United States Quartermaster’s Department, after whom Fort Brown, Tex., was named. Mrs. Van Vliet is her sister. She and the General, who is a retired officer, arrived here yesterday afternoon.

Mr. and Mrs. Bayne will reach here this morning. The pall-bearers will be selected from members of the School Board (of whom deceased was the oldest in point of service and in years) and Lee Camp and from the ex-Confederate surgeons. The School Board and the teachers of the public schools will attend as bodies. The latter at their meeting yesterday evening passed resolutions of respect. The pall-bearers on the part of the former will be Messrs. T. Wiley Davis and E. D. Starke.


A meeting of ex-Confederate surgeons and soldiers will be held at the Chancery-Court room (City Hall) to-day at 5 P. M. to take action concerning the death of Dr. Moore.

later in the same paper:


…MOORE. – Died, in this city, on the 31st of May, Dr. SAMUEL PRESTON MOORE, late Surgeon-General of the Confederate States Army; aged seventy-five years.

Funeral will take place from the Grace Episcopal church on SUNDAY, June 2d, at 9 A. M.

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