Thomas Moonlight (1833-1899)
Moonlight was Nichols' commander at the Battle of Westport and later Kansas
Adjutant General, Territorial Governor of Wyoming and United States Minister
to Bolivia. Born in Scotland, he ran away to sea at age 13, later joining the U.S. Army.
William Nichols arrived in Kansas sometime after the early 1855 census, but was in time to be elected to the Big Springs convention that summer and to the Topeka Constitutional Convention that fall from District 5 in the east central part of the territory. In Spring 1856, he moved to Greeley in Anderson County, winning election as county treasurer in 1857. [Campbell, Anderson County, 36 and 75] In November 1857 he married a local Greely girl, Hester Ann Dart [Kansas Historical Quarterly 21:471] and was constable of Walker Township in 1858. [Kansas Historical Collections 5:501]
In 1861, he was an organizer of a new political party in Anderson County, the "Farmers and Mechanics' Union." The party was "clamorous for reform" and split the elections results with the traditional Republican Party in "one of the most bitter [campaigns] ever had in the county." [Campbell, Anderson County, 145]
In 1863, Nichols joined the 16th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry as a private soldier and was killed on active duty. [Campbell, Anderson County, 238] The 16th Cavalry was organized in 1863 and fought in the Battles of Lexington and Westport. Part of the regiment was sent west in pursuit of hostile Indians and the rest stood post and escort duty for the balance of the war. [Kansas Adjutant General's Report, 491] Perhaps Nichols was killed during the Price campaign, when two companies of the 16th Cavalry were attached to the command of Colonel Thomas Moonlight of the 2nd Brigade, attempting to repel General Price's forces in the assault on Lexington and trying to hold the crossings on the Little Blue and Big Blue Rivers during the Battle of Westport. The Brigade followed Price's retreat as far as the Arkansas River, before returning to Kansas.