Thomas Moonlight was born in 1833, the son of a poor, industrious farmer who owned a farm near Arbroath called Boysack Muir. At the age of twelve Thomas became an apprentice draper in Arbroath.
One day, rather than going to work at the draper’s as usual, Thomas set out for Dundee where signed on as crew of a ship bound for Philadelphia.
At first, America did not bring Thomas the excitement he craved. He spent a number of years working on farms in the east until he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Artillery a the age of twenty. A born soldier, young Thomas soon gained promotion. By 1857, he held the rank of captain.
When the American Civil War had broke out, Thomas joined up with the Northern States. One of the best shots in the western army, he was promoted to Colonel of the Eleventh Kansas Cavalry. When he was commended for bravery at the battle of Dry Wood, he was promoted again to Brigadier-General.
Thomas was one of three commanders of the Northern troops at the famous battle of Pea Ridge fought on March 7th and 8th, 1862. About fifty thousand fought in the battle. The result of the carnage was a decisive victory for the North. Even so, the war continued.
General Moonlight commanded the Second Kansas Brigade at the battle of Westport in 1864 and was again commended for bravery. Thomas, though, remained a farmer at heart in spite of his successful career as a soldier. He resigned from the army the moment the war ended in 1864.
Thomas did not enjoy the peace of farm life for long. War broke out with the Red Indians in Wyoming and Moonlight inevitably became involved.
His love of farming never left him and it was to his farm that Moonlight returned in 1868. Never one to be idle, he spent much of his spare time in politics. It was not long before Thomas was holding positions of high office and in 1887 reached the pinnacle of his life’s career when he was appointed Governor of Wyoming.
Again, though, the call of the farming life was too strong for Thomas. After two turbulent years as Governor, he resigned to return to his farm. Four years later, Thomas received his last appointment when President Cleveland made him U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia. Now sixty years old, he held the position until his retiral in 1897.
This time, Thomas Moonlight’s return to farm life was final. He died two years later in 1899.