“To the Commander in Chief, or any Officer – We appeal to you as a gentleman to protect us against the outrages & annoyances of your men. We are alone having no gentlemen with us. Please send us a guard. Respectfully, Mrs. Moore” -November, 1863 during the Federal encampment of The Shadows
In January 1861 on Grand Cote the harvesting of the 1860 crop neared completion and planting of the 1861 crop began. Meanwhile, in Baton Rouge, John Moore was sitting on a committee to draft the Ordinance of Secession, and before the month was out, Louisiana had seceded from the Union. Within a month of the signing, Mary Moore’s grandson David Weeks Magill at school in Virginia wrote asking “to come home and fight.” Mary asked John Moore to forbid it. “so many young men are makeing the state of the country an excuse for comeing home.” (February 19, 1861, Mary C. Moore to John Moore) Before the year was out, David was in the army stationed at Camp Moore north of New Orleans.
By mid-1862, sugar planters along Bayou Teche had to contend with advancing armies, first confederate defenders then Federal invaders. By late summer 1862, war news was being discussed more than all else. Mary’s grandson, now Lieutenant Magill, was with the army protecting Vicksburg. Stories of Federal troops on the not too distant Bayou Lafourche reached Mary Moore who read of the alarming “robbing” and destruction of plantations of friends and acquaintances. The decision to pack up and leave home was not an easy one, but by June 1863 the decision to leave had been made, and Harriet, and Charles and his family, and William had left the Teche country, with Charles settling in Northwestern Louisiana in De Soto parish, and Harriet and William going into Texas.
By the summer’s end John Moore had joined the refugees and was also living in northern Louisiana to avoid capture and arrest by Federal Troops. Mary Moore, at home on the Bayou Teche wrote that she felt “abandoned by all.” The mails had become very uncertain, the movement of the Federal and Confederate troops curtailed travel, and she rarely saw or heard from members of her family.
The next few months brought more change for the worse. In September Mrs. Moore received word that her grandson, David Magill, had been killed at Vicksburg in July, and in November 1863 General Franklin chose the Moore residence (The Shadows) as headquarters from which to direct the Federals’ defense of New Iberia, “an important point along their communication and supply lines.” (Franklin took over the outbuildings and the ground floor of the main house while Mary Moore, her sister-in-law Hannah Jane Conrad, and slave house-servants Louisa, Charity, and Sidney occupied the family quarters on the second and third floors.
Though not in good health, and with her home surrounded by enemy troops, Mary prayed for safety for her husband and children far away from home, looking forward to the time when the war would be over and they could be together again. When it was suggested that taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States could make life easier, she replied: “no Hannah Jane, my Husband & children shall never know that mortification.” (Alfred C. Weeks to John Moore, January 13, 1864) sometime in the early hours of December 29, 1863, Mary Moore died peacefully in her sleep and was buried in her gardens. The war was over for Mary, but her refusal to abandon her home probably saved the property from confiscation and greater damage. The Federal troops moved on just a few weeks later and the war ended shortly thereafter.