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Hunter Ketcham portrays A. J. Moseley
Brave Hamilton County boy took message through enemy lines

Hunter Ketcham, above, is the focus of the Olustee Battle Festival poster this year. Portraying a brave 6 year old boy thrust into a terrible war.
-SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

By Tami Stevenson

Each year a poster is designed for the Battle of Olustee Festival. This year the poster, designed by Jennifer Chasteen, volunteer program assistant for the museum, depicts an amazing true story of a young local boy, A.J. Moseley, who bravely got a message through enemy lines during the Civil War.

According to Confederate Pension records at the Florida State Archives, A.J. Moseley was born in 1858 near Quitman, Georgia. Soon thereafter, the Moseleys (spelled Mosley in the documents) moved to Hamilton County, Florida. A.J. had four older brothers that were already fighting in the war for the Confederates. In 1864 Union forces were advancing west from Jacksonville towards supply lines near Lake City on their way to Tallahassee.

The document states that (Confederate) officers stopped at the Moseley farm at meal-time on their way to the Battle of Olustee. The officers held a caucus in the Mosley’s yard as there was an important message that had to get through to General Colquitt (spelled Colquit in the document) that Union soldiers were headed that way.

According to the statement in the archives, “...they were afraid to send the message by man for fear it would be intercepted by a Yankee patrol. One of the soldiers who knew A. J. Mosley well, suggested that he be sent as he knew the country and location through which he would have to travel, having gone over this territory often on horseback to look after his father’s cattle. His father (John A. Mosely) was a devout Confederate but was too old for active service. He objected to sending so young a child on an errand so dangerous. His mother thought of the cause and of her four sons enlisted in the Confederate Army and all that was at stake and said by all means for his father to allow him to go.”

She sewed a message in his jacket, the six year old boy was placed on a horse and told he must fight for his brothers by carrying the message to General Colquitt. On the way, the document states, he saw a Yankee scout and ran to keep from being searched. The soldier abandoned the chase when he saw how young he was. A. J. kept on his way towards Ocean Pond inquiring from Confederate soldiers the whereabouts of General Colquitt. When he finally found the General, officers ripped open his jacket and found the message. Years after, the document stated, that he often laughed at how disappointed he was when the officers picked him up and kissed him and made him feel as if he were a baby just as he was feeling like a Grand General.

The boy portraying A. J. Moseley in the 2018 Olustee Battle Festival poster is 9 year old Hunter Ketcham. According to Chasteen, Ketcham is actually an indirect descendent of the Moseley family.

Related Article: Read about Olustee Battle Festival