Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
E. C. Tillotson Papers, 1862-1908

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, May 1992

Summary Information
Title: E. C. Tillotson papers
Creator: Tillotson, Mary
Inclusive dates: 1862-1908
Extent: 80 letters, 1 diary
Abstract:
E. C. Tillotson enlisted in the 14th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War, but was unable to serve on active duty because of frequent ill health. Among his papers are 29 letters to his daughter Mary and one each to his wife Angeline and son Charles, which describe the fate of Union dead at Chickamauga, the fortifications at Chattanooga, and other topics. His diary covers a one month period during the summer of 1863 and includes a description of the engagement at Hoover's Gap, Tennessee in June. A series of documents collected during his service include ordnance stores reports and surgeons' evaluations of Tillotson. The collection is completed by letters concerning Tillotson's death and the dispute between Angeline and Mary over his estate.

Language: The material is in English.
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1992. M-2803.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

E. C. Tillotson papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


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.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Tillotson papers appear to be only a portion of his war-time correspondence, with only one letter present prior to 1863. Among the 80 letters, 29 were written by Lt. Tillotson to his daughter, Mary, and one each to his wife and son. The collection includes three letters from Benjamin St. James Fry and two from Lt. Van Meter concerning Tillotson's death and the dispute between Angeline and Mary over his estate. Finally, there are a series of documents collected by Tillotson during his service, including ordnance stores reports and seven surgeons' evaluations of Tillotson as unfit for duty.

As might be expected from a man so often removed from action, the collection is slight on military news. The diary, which covers only a one month period during the summer of 1863, includes a good description of the engagement at Hoover's Gap, Tenn., in June, 1863. Two letters mention the fortifications at Chattanooga, and one interesting letter discusses three soldiers in the 111th Pennsylvania Regiment and two servants, who froze to death while being transported by rail to Bridgeport, Ala. The best letter by far, however, is a grisly description of the supposed fate of Union dead at Chickamauga. Tillotson charges that Braxton Bragg refused to allow the Union to reclaim their bodies, and that the Confederate Army dismembered bodies, exposed them for hogs to devour, placed skulls on stumps, and took bones to carve into rings and other souvenirs for Southern ladies. An unusual printed poem "On Picket Guard at Stones River" is also noteworthy. On the home front, one letter mentions a gang of escaped prisoners from Johnson's Island who were terrorizing the neighborhood of Cedar Point.

The Tillotson papers will most likely be of interest as an unusual record of a soldier who spends much of his service sitting at home convalescing. Tillotson's mood swings and occasional dark thoughts during his long battle with "neuralgia" and other complaints, and his equally obvious inability either to serve or to secure a discharge are very interesting. The strained relations in his family are also of considerable interest, particularly after they develop into open hostility between mother and daughter over Tillotson's estate.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 14th (1861-1865)
    • United States. Army--Medical examinations.
    • Neuralgia.
    • United States. Army--Leaves and furloughs.
    • Soldiers' bodies, Disposition of--United States.
    • Tillotson, Angeline, 1828-1908.
    • Tillotson, Ebenezer Charles, b. 1856.
    • Mothers and daughters.
    Contributors:
    • Tillotson, E. C. (Ebenezer Clark), ca. 1830-1864.
    • Fry, Benjamin St. James, 1824-1892.
    • Van Meter, Isaac L.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   42 Schoff Civil War Soldiers' Letters  
    E. C. Tillotson papers,  1862 January 29-1908 September 29 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    Agriculture--Kentucky.
    • 1862 January 29-30
    Alabama--Description and travel.
    • 1863 December 8
    Ale.
    • 1864 March 13
    Beecher, John W.
    • 1864 May 29
    Bereavement.
    • 1864 October 16
    Bone carving.
    • 1863 December 17
    Brothers--Death.
    • 1864 October 16
    Burials.
    • 1863 December 17
    Chattanooga (Tenn.)
    • 1863 December 8
    • 1863 December 12-13
    Chickamauga (Ga.) Battlefield.
    • 1863 December 17
    Christmas.
    • 1864 January 19
    Cold.
    • 1863 January 5
    Conger, Mary.
    • 1864 March 13
    Dead.
    • 1863 December 17
    Diaries--Soldiers.
    • 1863 June 23-1864 May 4
    Diarrhea.
    • 1864 April 19
    • 1864 May 29
    Disability evaluation.
    • 1863 September 2
    • 1863 September 16
    • 1863 November 27
    • 1864 April 19
    • 1864 June 6
    • 1864 July 15
    Draft.
    • 1864 January 29
    • 1864 March 3
    Drought--Ohio.
    • 1864 June 20
    Dysentery.
    • 1864 September 8
    Escaped prisoners--Confederate States of America.
    • 1864 July 31
    Estates (Law)
    • 1864 October 21
    • 1864 November 9
    Este, George Peabody, 1830-1881.
    • 1863 December 12-13
    Fathers and sons.
    • 1864 July 11
    Fathers--Death.
    • 1864 September 8
    • 1864 September 25
    • 1864 October 12
    Fourth of July celebrations.
    • 1864 July 5
    Homesickness.
    • 1862 January 29-30
    Hoover's Gap, Skirmish at, 1863.
    • 1863 June 23-1864 May 4
    Horses.
    • 1862 January 29-30
    Housing--Ohio--Toledo.
    • 1864 March 3
    Johnsons Island (Ohio) Military Prison.
    • 1863 November 15
    • 1864 July 31
    Kingsbury, Henry Denison.
    • 1864 July 19
    Knights of the Golden Circle.
    • 1863 November 15
    Letter-writing.
    • 1863 January 5
    Literacy--Freedmen.
    • [1863 May 24]
    Mothers and daughters.
    • 1863 December 2
    Mothers--Death.
    • 1908 September 27
    Murfreesboro, Battle of, 1862-1863--Poetry.
    • [c.1863] (Hollingsworth)
    Neuralgia--Treatment.
    • 1864 March 13
    • 1864 July 19
    Pensions, Military--United States--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 1867 July 24
    • 1908 October 4
    Poetry.
    • n.d.
    Prayer meetings.
    • 1862 September 7
    Presentation swords.
    • 1863 December 12-13
    Prices--Ohio.
    • 1864 July 11
    Railroad travel--Alabama.
    • 1863 December 8
    Reconstruction--Poetry.
    • n.d.
    Revivals--Ohio.
    • 1864 March 13
    Soldiers' bodies, Disposition of.
    • 1863 December 17
    • 1864 October 12
    Soldiers, Convalescent.
    • 1864 March 3
    • 1864 March 13
    • 1864 May 29
    • 1864 June 20
    • 1864 June 26
    • 1864 June 30
    • 1864 July 12
    • 1864 July 24
    Soldiers--Confederate States of America.
    • 1863 December 17
    Soldiers--Death.
    • 1863 January 5
    Souvenirs.
    • 1863 December 17
    Spine--Diseases.
    • 1863 September 2
    • 1863 September 16
    Stratton, Charles S., 1838-1883.
    • 1863 November 15
    Tillotson, Angeline, 1828-1908.
    • 1864 October 12
    • 1864 October 21
    • 1907 September 4
    • 1908 September 27
    Tillotson, E. C., c.1830-1864.
    • 1863 December 31
    • 1864 January 16
    • 1864 January 31
    • 1864 September 8
    • [before 1864 September 19]
    • 1864 September 25
    • 1864 October 12
    • 1864 October 16
    • 1864 October 21
    • 1864 November 9
    Tillotson, Ebenezer Charles, b. 1856.
    • 1863 November 1-2
    • 1864 February 21
    • [c.1864 February]
    • 1864 May 12-14
    Union sympathizers--Georgia.
    • 1864 August 2
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.
    • [1863 May 24]
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Poetry.
    • n.d.
    United States. Army--Appointments and retirements.
    • 1863 August 1
    • 1863 November 1-2
    United States. Army--Inspection.
    • 1863 June 4
    • 1863 June 5
    • 1863 December 23
    United States. Army--Leaves and furloughs.
    • 1863 August 13
    • 1863 December 12-13
    • 1863 December 17
    • 1863 December 28
    • 1864 January 16
    United States. Army--Officers.
    • 1862 January 29-30
    United States. Army--Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 111th.
    • 1863 January 5
    United States. Army--Recruiting.
    • 1864 January 19
    United States. Army--Reenlistment.
    • 1863 December 12-13
    • 1863 December 17
    United States. Army--Supplies and stores.
    • 1863 December 23