Palmer B. Holdridge letterbook  1862
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Biography

Tillotson, E. C. (Ebenezer Clark), ca. 1830-1864

Rank : 1st Sergeant; 2nd Lieutenant (1862 June 16)

Regiment : 14th Ohio Infantry Regiment, Co. K (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 August 15-1864 September 24

E. C. Tillotson and his wife Angeline Benjamin were married in Ephrata, N.Y., in 1848, and soon emigrated to Toledo, Ohio. A daughter, Mary E., was born shortly thereafter, and a sickly and accident-prone son, Charles (or Charley), followed in 1856. When the 14th Ohio Infantry formed in Toledo in August, 1861, Tillotson, a 31 year-old butcher, enlisted as First Sergeant of Company B. The regiment was rushed to the theatre of action in Kentucky, participating in a small skirmish at Wild Cat, Ky., in October, before taking part in the battles of Mill Springs and Shiloh, and the siege of Cornith, Miss., in 1862. Tillotson transferred to Company K in June, 1862, to accept a commission as 2nd Lieutenant.

The one aspect of Tillotson's military record that stands out as unusual is his continuing battle with ill health. In January, 1863, Tillotson was granted leave to return home to recover from an undescribed illness, but he was able to rejoin his regiment in Kentucky between April and July. His service was apparently exemplary, and that he was well thought of is attested to by a petition on his behalf signed by 52 officers in his brigade seeking, unsuccessfully, to secure an appointment for him as brigade inspector. However in August, Tillotson was again forced from active duty, returning to Toledo on a surgeon's certificate of disability to recover from soreness of the spine, a bad cough, and hemorrhoids. It is clear that neither Tillotson nor his doctors expected this illness to keep him from duty for long, but his original 20 day leave was extended to 109 days as he failed at least three further surgeons' evaluations during the fall. Tillotson applied for the Invalid Corps, but felt strongly that he wished to serve in an active role if he could. His application was apparently rejected.

Tillotson was able to rejoin his regiment in Chattanooga at the beginning of December, 1863. He arrived in the aftermath of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, and optimistically reenlisted. Ironically, as a benefit for having met their quota of 75% reenlistment, the soldiers of the 14th Ohio were granted 30 day furloughs to Toledo, beginning in January, 1864. During this leave, Tillotson's health again failed when he contracted neuralgia, and he was forced to remain at home, detailed as a "recruiter," when the regiment returned south.

Tillotson's health was so poor during the next few months that at times he was unable to walk upright or to leave the house. Yet despite this he was unwilling to give up the thought of returning to active duty. "I know I could not content myself here if well as now, as soon as I begin to get a little comfortable" (1864 March 13), he wrote. Nor could he support those who did not do their duty. When draft quotas were announced for Toledo, Tillotson noted in contrast to his own willingness, but inability, to serve, that there will be "quacking among the able bodyed-home loveing-faint Hearted Men of this country" (1864 March 3). As time wore on, though, and his condition failed to improve, his confidence began to waver, and he began to doubt the wisdom of remaining in the service. With the shortage of manpower in the Army, he felt it unlikely that his resignation would be accepted, but when faced with the possibility that he might join the regiment in the summer heat of Georgia, he wrote: "they have no Tents and probaly but one Blanket each man, and he has that in addition to his Ammunition -- Accutriments, and Rations to carry which together with the heat of that Climate (near Atlanta -- Ga) would be very like to make me wilt a little if not more too....I may not be able to make my returns to the Government before I would be compeled to fall back and go into some Hospital and that would not be very pleasant to me -- such reflections visit my mind occasionally and are not pleasant" (1864 June 26).

After several false starts, Tillotson returned to duty on August 1st, 1864. Though he was said to be free of the symptoms of neuralgia, he soon contracted a debilitating case of dysentery and was sent to the Officers' Hospital at Lookout Mountain. On September 8th, he began making preparations for death, setting aside $300 for his daughter, Mary, as a way of providing for her future, with the remainder of his estate going to his wife and son. He died on September 24th.

Mary, however, had not been on good terms with her mother for several years. Probably as a result of family tensions, she had left home for Pillar Point, N.Y., prior to 1863, to live with an aunt and cousin, Louisa. The depth of animosity between mother and daughter is suggested by Tillotson's response to Mary's request to send (surrepetitiously) some articles from home: "it would bring down the house to hot on me so much so that I could not well endure it" (1863 November 15). When Tillotson died, Angeline wrote an apparently conciliatory letter to Mary, even offering her, "of course," welcome to stay with her if she planned a visit to Toledo. Louisa, however, added a telling footnote: "you will see...how [Angeline] has hid the cloven foot . I wonder if she would send money if she tho't you needed enny...of course she wants it all" (1864 October 12). Louisa's suspicions seem to have been well founded, for Angeline had, in fact, written a letter to the hospital at Lookout Mountain demanding all of her husband's money and belongings. Benjamin St. James Fry, a Chaplain from the 63rd Ohio Regiment, and Isaac L. Van Meter of the 14th Ohio, two of the men who had attended Tillotson as he was dying, stepped in to foil her plans, and to ensure that Mary received her share of the money promised by her father.

Son Charles made a better effort at relations with Angeline, apparently caring for her through old age and a long sickness. "Mother is sick but that is nothing new," he wrote, "When you write allways say you are sorry it cheers her up to think that someone knows it." (1907 September 4). In 1908, Angeline died at age 80.