James Alfred Moss was born in Lafayette, Louisiana on May 12, 1872 to Anderson Joseph Moss, a judge, and his wife, Octavie. James was the youngest of six children. Today, there is a middle school in Lafayette named after an older brother, Nathaniel Peter. At the time he graduated from West Point, Class of '94, James (aka "Daig") was the youngest cadet to ever complete studies there. He also held the dubious distinction of being the "Goat", ranking dead last among his classmates. Graduates were assigned posts according to class rank, which meant Moss got last pick. At that time, few officers wanted to serve in the West or with black soldiers. Moss wound up at Fort Missoula and soon after began his experiments with the bicycle.
Moss went with the 25th Infantry to Cuba in 1898, where he won several commendations for bravery. A year later, in the Phillipines, he won a silver star. He commanded the 367th Infantry during WWI. By 1919, Moss had reached the rank of colonel and was making a tidy sum from the sale of numerous books he had written. Moss decided to leave the Army and spent the next twenty years writing as well organizing the United States Flag Association-- a patriotic organization which promoted flag etiquette. He spent most of the 1920s and 30s in New York City. On April 14, 1941, a taxi Moss was riding home was struck by a bus and he died. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetary.
Moss never married. He gained a deep appreciation and respect for the black soldiers he commanded. The wreck which took his life was feet from the spot where John Lennon was gunned down by an assassin in 1980.
Moss, James A
Col USA Ret LA
Date of Death: 04/23/1941
Buried At: Section West Site 1266
Arlington National Cemetery
Cadet at the United States Military Academy from June 17, 1890 to June 12, 1894, when he was graduated and promoted in the army to (SECOND LIEUT. OF INFANTRY, 25TH INFANTRY, JUNE 12, 1894)
Served: Joined regiment at Fort Missoula, Mont., Sept. 30, 1894--
On detached service, in command of 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, doing experimental work in military cycling