Moise opposed secession and publicly argued against it. Nevertheless, when the Civil War came he volunteered for Confederate service.
Lawyer, soldier, adjutant general. The descendant of a Sephardic Jewish family from Alsace and the French Caribbean, Moise was born on May 21, 1832, in Charleston, the son of Abraham Moise and Caroline Moses. He was a member of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, Charleston’s oldest synagogue, and was educated in local schools. As a young adult, Moise was employed as a clerk. On September 20, 1854, he married Esther Lyon of Petersburg, Virginia. The following year Moise went to work for his uncle Raphael J. Moses, a successful attorney and plantation owner in Columbus, Georgia. Moise ran his uncle’s flour mill, kept his books, and read the law.
Moise opposed secession and publicly argued against it. Nevertheless, when the Civil War came he volunteered for Confederate service. In May 1862 he organized a cavalry company in Columbus. Called the Moise Rangers, it was one of only a few companies named for Jewish Confederates. Moise was named captain of the Rangers that became Company A of Claiborne’s Seventh Confederate Cavalry. The Seventh served in the southeastern corner of Virginia and in North Carolina. Moise saw a great deal of action in late 1864 and early 1865, including foraging expeditions, the defense of Petersburg during the Bermuda Hundred campaign, the “Great Beefsteak Raid” under General Wade Hampton, and the Battle of Bentonville. He surrendered with Hampton at Greensboro, North Carolina.
After the war, Moise returned to Sumter. He went into law, politics, farming, and journalism. During Reconstruction, Moise was a conservative Democrat and a bitter opponent of the Reconstruction government. In 1876 he enthusiastically supported Wade Hampton, his former commander, for governor and ran for adjutant general on Hampton’s ticket, winning that race. Moise was also a commander of the Red Shirts, an armed volunteer organization that supported Hampton.
After being elected adjutant general, Moise commanded the militia in an evenhanded manner. Like Hampton, Moise was a moderate on racial issues. He invited black South Carolinians to join the militia. He served two terms as adjutant general, from 1876 to 1880. An opponent of Benjamin R. Tillman, Moise was defeated in an 1892 race for Congress.
In 1902, at the memorial service for Hampton in Sumter, Moise gave the oration. He died on December 12, 1902, and was buried in Sumter.
Moise, Harold. The Moise Family of South Carolina. Columbia, S.C.: R. L. Bryan, 1961.
Rosen, Robert N. The Jewish Confederates. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000.