G.A.R. Post: Oliver Morton Post #10 Snohomish, WA
15th ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: 5/24/61 Freeport, IL
Mustered Out: 9/16/65 Fort Leavenworth, KS
The 15th, a three year unit, was one of the first from Illinois to be sworn into Federal service. After six weeks of training the regiment moved to Mexico, MO where, for a time, it kept company with the 21st Illinois Infantry commanded by Col. U.S. Grant before covering Union Gen. Franz Siegal’s retreat from the battle of Wilson’s Creek, AR. Attachment to Union Gen. John C. Fremont’s army preceded quartering for the winter.
In February, 1862 the 15th traveled into Tennessee to take part in the surrender of Ft. Donelson. It then moved to Pittsburg Landing/Shiloh where it was in the front lines of the first day’s battle and, for more than an hour, fought gallantly in an area the Rebels dubbed “The Hornet’s Nest.” At Pittsburg Landing/Shiloh the regiment lost 250 killed and wounded. As one source noted, There are more “known dead” of the 15th buried in the National Cemetery at Pittsburgh Landing than any other regiment and, more died later of wounds.
Summer and fall ’62 found the 15th in Mississippi. In that state the regiment was active in many locales including the 1863 siege of Vicksburg where they lost many killed and wounded.
In the spring of 1864 the 15th joined Union Gen. W. T. Sherman’s army as it marched on Atlanta, GA. During this period the 15th and 14th infantry units were consolidated to form the “Veteran Battalion 14th and 15th Infantry Volunteers. This unit participated in the famous “march to the sea.” and the capture of Savannah. In the early months of 1865, Sherman’s troops cut a swath northward through the Carolinas.
While doing so, new recruits brought both the 14th and 15th up to strength and each resumed its individual identity. With the surrender of Confed. Gen. Johnston’s army to Gen. Sherman, the 15th participated in the Grand Review in Washington D.C. It then was transferred to Ft. Leavenworth, KS where it served a short time on the plains before receiving final muster.
Residence: Woodstock, IL Age: 23 yrs. (est)
Enlisted: 5/24/61 Rank: Pvt.
Mustered Out: 5/24/64
Discharged: 6/14/64 Springfield, IL
Highest Rank: Pvt.
It appears Washington Newman was born in Pennsylvania 5/8/1838 per family information. No additional details are available on his birth family, formative, or teenaged years. By 1861 when he entered the U.S. Army the 5’8” farmer was residing in McHenry County in the northeast corner of Illinois, not far from the metropolis of Chicago.
During Private Newman’s military tenure one incident stands out: On April 6, 1862 during the first day of fighting at Pittsburgh Landing/Shiloh, Tennessee he received a severe head wound from an exploding shell. The fragments struck him approximately one inch above the left eye and caused the loss of sight in that organ. According to Washington, the battlefield hospitals were full, so he was treated within his company. Amazingly the wound did not prevent him completing his enlistment. However, by 1868, continuing pain resulted in the surgical removal of the damaged orb.
Leaving the service Washington apparently returned to farm work and carpentry in McHenry Co. Also, it was in Illinois on 7/8/64 that Washington wed Mary H. Barlow (b. ca. 1845 IL, age 20 years.) While the couple produced no children of their own, they adopted a daughter, Frances (b. ca. 1875 WI). The Newmans lived in at least two Illinois locations, but likely by 1875 when their foster daughter was born, had resettled in Wisconsin.
The family was still in Wisconsin when, in 1889, Washington petitioned the U.S. Government for a disability pension based on his disabling Civil War wound. Washington and Mary moved to Snohomish in Puget Sound area of Washington around 1903. Although why the move was made is not documented, it was likely prompted by their now-married daughter, Mrs. Henry S. Knight and family, living in the area.
Mary Newman died in 1907. Cause of death is not known. Washington died August 22, 1910 at the age of 72 years. At death he was receiving a $24 per month government stipend based on his Civil War soldiering. According to the Everett Daily Herald, the former private’s funeral “was crowded by members of the G.A.R., W.R.C., (Women’s Relief Corps), Sons of Veterans and with friends of the deceased.”
Buried at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery Snohomish
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