Thomas Moonlight, a prominent officer from Kansas during the Civil War, was born in Forfarshire, Scotland, Nov. 10, 1833. As a young child he had an adventurous spirit and desired to see America, the country he had read about. At 13 years old, he ran away from school, shipped for the United States as a forecastle hand, and landed in Philadelphia without a penny. He crossed the river into New Jersey and obtained work in a glass factory, afterwards on a farm, and in various capacities. On May 17, 1853, he enlisted in the regular Army as an artilleryman. The following August he wa ordered to Texas.
He served there until the fall of 1856. For a year he fought against the Seminoles in Florida until his command was ordered north. He was mustered out on May 17, 1858, at Fort Leavenworth, having risen to the rank of orderly sergeant.
During the following year he occupied the position of chief clerk in the commissary department and in 1860 he bought a farm in Leavenworth county.
When the Civil War broke out, he raised a light battery and was commissioned captain of the artillery. Promotions followed and at the close of the war he was colonel of the 11th Kansas Cavalry, with the brevet rank of brigadier general.
In 1864, he was a presidential elector on the Republican ticket. Soon afterward, he was appointed a collector of internal revenue and was elected Secretary of State, a position which he served from January of 1869 to January of 1873. At the close of his term, he declined a second nomination and later on account of his views on prohibition, switched to the Democrat party. He was an elector at large on that ticket in 1884, and the same year was appointed Governor of Wyoming. In 1893, he was made minister to Bolivia by President Cleveland, which he held for four years.
Biography taken from information found at the Kansas State Historical Society. Written by 1st Lt. Dave Young, HQ-KSANG.