Saturday, February 18, 2017

Singleton describes the short, but remarkable, life of David Moniac

(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “This is David Moniac’s story” was originally published in the Feb. 18, 1982 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

David Moniac was not a native of Monroe County, but many of his descendants live in the county today. This is his story.

On Sept. 18, 1817, one of the unlikeliest cadets ever to enter the U.S. Military Academy at West Point became the first Indian to be admitted to the academy. He was David Moniac, then 15 years and eight months of age. David had traveled from a Lower Creek village on Pinchona Creek, near the trail which was to become the Federal Road in the present Montgomery County. This same road borders Monroe County today.

On the banks of the Hudson River, far from the Tallapoosa and Alabama rivers that he knew so well, Cadet Moniac must have been acutely puzzled at the attitudes and cultures of his fellow cadets. Many of the beliefs and customs that he practiced were alien also to his fellow classmates. These practices caused the young man to get several demerits in the first years at West Point.

His best academic subjects were mathematics and military tactics. In these, he ranked 27th in his class. Moniac graduated from the academy in the summer of 1821. But on Dec. 31, 1822, he resigned his commission because of a periodic cut by Congress to decrease the size of the Army.

Moniac settled near his uncles, David Tate and William Weatherford, the famous “Red Eagle.” He married Mary Powell, the cousin of Osceola, the great Seminole leader. From the time of his resignation until 1836, he was a respected cotton farmer and breeder of thoroughbred race horses, a passion he had inherited from his grandfather, Charles Weatherford. He built a home near Little River in Baldwin County.

When the Florida war began in 1836, Moniac returned to military service as a captain in the Mounted Creek Volunteers. There were 750 Creek Indians in the regiment, including two chiefs. The Indians wore white turbans to distinguish them in battle from the enemy. The Seminoles hated this white symbol of the Creeks’ defection to their enemy. Moniac was the only officer designated as Indian among the 13 officers in the regiment. Shortly after returning to duty with the military, he was promoted to the rank of major.

During the Battle of Wahoo Swamp, Moniac moved ahead of his troops to measure the depth of the Withlacouchee Creek, trying to make sure the water was shallow enough for his men to cross. He was struck down by enemy fire, his body pierced by 67 bullets. It is ironic that Osceola, the chief who commanded the Seminole attack that killed Moniac, was a cousin to the slain major’s wife, Mary Powell Moniac.

Thus on Nov. 21, 1836, the brief and tragic life of this man came to an end. Here on the banks of a little known river, deep in the swamps of Florida, ceased a truly remarkable odyssey between two American cultures – a man caught up in history, our history, somewhere in time.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School, served in the Korean War, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County in June 1964 (some sources say 1961) and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. For years, Singleton’s column “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. Some of his earlier columns also appeared under the heading of “Monroe County History: Did You Know?” He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

No comments:

Post a Comment