Sketch of Our Last Civil War Veteran,
Transcribed from The Spooner
Advocate - May 9, 1924
Spooner's one living Veteran
of the Civil War, Comrade T.H. Hillman was born in historic old
Germany in 1847, came to the United States when about six years old,
settled in the Town of Brighton, Kenosha County, Wisconsin. From there
Mr. Hillman enlisted in Company H of the 65th Illinois Infantry at Camp
Douglas, Chicago on April 13, 1863, when but 15 years of age, to serve
three years or during the remainder of the war.
The regiment stayed in camp
there until sometime in September when the boys went from Chicago by
to Cincinnati, Ohio - then marched from there to Knoxville, Tennessee
went into camp the latter part of September. Sometime after that a
army under General Longstreet came to Knoxville and surrounded the
In speaking of this siege and other encounters, Mr. Hillman says, "We
trenches and defended the place. The rebels tried several times to take
the town but we drove them back each time so they laid siege to the
and tried to starve us out. After about two weeks, General Burnside who
had command of our forces sent out an order stating that all the food
gone except what was needed for the women and children, and asked us
we wanted to do, 'eat corn or surrender.' The boys sent back word they
would eat the last mule in town before they would surrender. So from
on for three weeks we got three cobs of corn to the man for a day's
- nothing else. Some tried to soak it and cook it, others roasted it
some at it raw.
General Sherman came to
our rescue with supplies and an army from Chattanooga and drove the
off. Three weeks later our company went by train to Chattanooga, joined
Sherman's army forty miles south of there, and were in the Atlanta
all the next summer.
At the battle of Atlanta,
July 22, 1864, General McPherson, commander of the 17th Corp, was
and after Atlanta fell we went into camp for a weeks rest.
General Sherman now started
on his march to the sea; while our Corp Commander, General Schofield,
ordered north with the 23rd and 4th Corps to follow Hood who had been
by Jeff Davis and his advisors to take Nashville.
We overtook the rebels at
Columbia, Tennessee, there was some sharp fighting there, but we
in driving them off and started for Franklin eighteen miles north about
We got to Franklin, a town
about the size of Spooner, the next morning with 1500 wagons, six mules
each, besides the supply wagons. Here we formed a line of battle and
four lines of trenches. The rebels made their first charge about 3 pm
twelve rebel states were represented in this battle.) We repulsed them
and they tried this three times - but we stuck to our trenches until
dark, when we left for Nashville eighteen miles farther north and went
into camp there the next morning.
About January 10th we moved
out and attacked the rebels the second day about 3 pm, breaking their
so they left for good - is disorder.
From Nashville we went to
Cincinnati by boat and from there to Washington, D.C. by rail, where we
stayed a week. From there we went to Fortress Monroe (now known as Old
Point Comfort,) in boxcars - from there to Fort Fisher, North Carolina.
After Fort Fisher was taken we moved to Raleigh go join forces with
Sherman, and from there to Goldsboro, North Carolina where we met
Johnson and his rebel army, but a few days after this Lee surrendered
Grant and four days later General Johnson surrendered his army to
and the war was over.
Everybody wanted to go home
and about three weeks later we got our orders to go. They put us on top
of a train of boxcars and we rode from Goldsboro to Chicago this way,
a week on the way. We waited at camp Douglas about two weeks when
one fine morning the Captain said, "Boys we get our discharge and pay
Mr. Hillman says that the
first thing he did was to go to a barber shop, get his hair cut and get
cleaned up - next he bought a new suit and when he looked in the mirror
he could not recognize himself - however he reached home ok and though
he was in some of the worst encounters of the war Mr. Hillman escaped
Mr. Hillman has been a resident
of Spooner since 1888, living for time on the farm where his son
now lives. He also worked for the Omaha beginning as a section foreman
and advancing to the position of division road master - his route being
between Eau Claire and Duluth.
Later years he has retired
from active labor but is nonetheless interested in all activities that
are for the betterment of Spooner and the whole community.
Comrade T.H. Hillman is
the only living member in good standing of the Frank Jackels Post
65 of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was organized in Spooner on
August 15, 1903, with eighteen charter members and later forty-three
He is also an honorary member of he local American Legion and Veterans
of Foreign Wars posts, and takes an active interest in all their plans,
until the 19th of June which will mark the 77th milestone. He is as
at heart as any of us and will be 77 years young instead of 77 years
Note - The Camp Douglas
mentioned by Mr. Hillman was located on what is now 47th Street in the
heart of Chicago.