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1st. Lt. Moses Taylor, 9th Infantry


NORWICH UNIVERSITY RECORD
June 1, 1918
No. 2, Whole o. 377
 
"Missing in Action"
Moses Taylor, '20,
lst. Lieut. 9th Infantry, U. S. A.
 

We have not been able to give any satisfactory answer to questions which have come to us concerning Lieutenant Taylor who was reported officially as "Missing in action." Through the courtesy of Lieutenant Taylor's father we are able to print the following letters. These letters will tell the many Norwich friends of "Mose" all that is at present known of his fate. We shall continue to hope that he was wounded and captured.—The Editor.

 

This letter was sont to Mr. Taylor by a friend in the Headquarters Army Artillery under date of April 14.

 

I have just returned from the sector which was occupied by Mo's regiment. There I heard that he was officially reported as missing. I at once made inquiries into the circumstances, and thought I would write you what I found out. I know you must have already heard the main facts, but being on the spot immediately after, I might have found some things you do not know.

Mo's Company tho' at the front was not in the front line at the time. A patrol was being organised for that night, and volunteers were asked for. Mo' immediately volunteered and was chosen. They went out that night in the dark in No Man's Land, and Moses, another Lieut. and a Sergeant were about 100 yards ahead of their men. The other Lieut. stopped after they had proceeded a way, and asked if they hadn't gone far enough. He replied "I'm game if you are" and on they went, pistol in hand. Suddenly without the slightest warning a German rose out of a shell hole and fired. Moses dropped, and the others beat it off, after the Sergeant had fired his pistol at the Boche. The Artillery on both sides then opened up and every one returned to their own lines—the Americans without Moses. No trace of him was found there later.

I know under circumstances like these how hard it is on you and Mrs. Taylor. With these facts before you, you know as much as anybody, and 1 dare not offer a suggestion either one way or the other.

I went into the front line at the point where these things happened, and could see the place very plainly in daylight. It was near a little town called Spada, just west of St. Mihiel. The lines are about one thousand yards apart there, and No man's Land looks very pedceful with a little brook flowing down the middle.

Moses was a very dear friend of mine, and in this moment of doubt and anxiety I want to offer you all my sympathy. There is one thing that we know now at any rate, that when he fell he was leading his men, himself in the post of danger, like the brave and gallant gentleman he is. I think Heaven will take care of such as he and everything will turn out all right.

Most sincerely,
Charles F. Choate, 3rd.
Headquarters Army Artillery
A. P. O. 728 A. E. F.
 

This letter was written under date of March 26 by the lieutenant who accompanied "Mose" on the patrol.

 

By the time you receive this letter you will no doubt have received official notification of the fact that Moses is reported missing and probably killed. I was with him on the patrol that night and as Moses and I were close friends I feel that I should give you some of the details.

Early in the morning of March 24th Moses went out in command of a patrol of which I was a member. We discovered that we were being followed by two Germans and made an attempt to capture them but they slipped away. The moonlight was very bright and the danger was greatly increased by this. As things turned out these Germans must have made their way back to their lines and given warning of our approach. When we reached a point in No Man's Land near a mill which the Germans hold as an advanced strong point, we left the larger part of the patrol behind and three of us continued toward the German line. Moses was ahead with a sergeant and I was about ten yards behind him.

The Boche were waiting in an old trench and allowed us to get within five yards of them and then opened up on us with a heavy rifle machine gun fire. Then they came over the top at us. Moses went down at the first shot. The sergeant and I managed to get back to the rest of the patrol and we were driven off without being able to bring Moses in. From what the Sergeant and I saw, we believe that he was probably killed instantly.

He went sown doing his duty gallantly, and showing the same courage he always did. The entire company and the other officers of the regiment feel as I do, that we have lost a fine officer and a fine friend.

 

This letter from a major of the 9th Infantry was mailed under date of March 27.

 

I desire as a personal friend of your son and as an officer in his regiment to extend to you and your family my most sincere sympathy for your recent loss. Although I was not in your son's battalion, I have at many times had the opportunity of observing his excellent work especially just prior to the night his death is supposed to have occurred. He was absolutely fearless but at all times careful and painstaking in his patrol work. He was one of the best patrol leaders that I have ever seen during my entire service in the Regular Army.

We all are of the opinion that he was instantaneously killed and did not suffer any pain. We are also sure that the Germans recognized his bravery and extended to him the consideration due a brave officer and gentleman. I feel the loss very keenly although I have known him but a short space of time. The Army cannot it afford to lose the services of gallant young officers of Moses' type and character.

He gave his life for his Country and Our Country and went to his death in a manner that reflects great credit on him. He fell with his face to the enemy which is what every soldier desires to do when the time comes.

 

There is just enough divergence in the different accounts to leave a gleam of hope. But if it should prove after all that "Mose" gave his life for his country on that night patrol, all Norwich can take solemn pride in the fact that he went out "ahead" and met the end, pistol in hand, with face to his foe.

 
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