Francis Marion Moody: A Union Army Recruiter from Jackson County

by | Aug 3, 2016 | Jackson, Union

Francis Marion Moody, born in 1840, was the son of Martin Liggett Moody and Lucinda Nicholson Moody. He had three brothers: Daniel Van Buren Moody [1838-1910], Bennett Jasper Moody [1846-1922] and Franklin Lafayette Moody [1849-1899]. Moody was named after the American Revolutionary officer, Francis Marion, or “The Swamp Fox,” who is considered one of the fathers of modern guerilla warfare.

Moody had a short military career, serving in Company H, 3rd Tennessee Union Cavalry as Master Sergeant. In his service records, he was described as six feet tall with a dark complexion, dark hair, and gray eyes. He had been a farmer from Jackson County, North Carolina. As a Union officer, he was assigned the task of slipping through Confederate lines into North Carolina to recruit for the Union Army. To avoid detection he often used the name of Francis Marion dropping his surname and dressed as a civilian.

In 1862, Moody married Leona Emmaline (Emily) Zachary, daughter of Alexander (Andy) Zachary of Cashiers Valley. The wedding took place at the Zachary home and was officiated by Justice of the Peace Col. John H. Alley, who a Whiteside Cove resident. Several months after her wedding, Emily Moody went to the Jackson County seat at Webster and had her picture taken as a gift for her husband. That photograph still survives today and depicts a rosy cheeked, teenaged Emily Zachary Moody with dark hair and pale eyes. Found in one of her descendant’s cedar chest, it is on a two-inch-square piece of glass, which had been carefully wrapped and placed in a small wooden box ornately decorated with carvings. Folded around the glass was a message in presumably in Emily’s handwriting that states, “Emily Moody’s Likeness taken At Webster, North Carolina Aug. 4, 1852. F. M. Moody and Emily Zachary were Married March 30 1862. Emily Moody Aged 16 Years and 6 Days This August 28. Emily to F. Moody.”

Letters from Francis M. Moody to his wife were also found in that cedar chest. According to the information contained in those letters, the soldier managed to visit Emily occasionally in Cashiers Valley while he was on his secret missions. The couple did not have any children, although the letters burned with a yearning love heightened by long separations. Francis Moody signed his last letter, “I am yours till death.”

On August 12, 1864, Moody was shot and killed while attempting to escape from a temporary Confederate Jail located on the campus of Mars Hill College, located in the mountains of western North Carolina. Moody was buried in a shallow unmarked grave on the college campus, and his remains may still be there.

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