Hilliard's LegionHilliard's Legion, 1862-1863

The Commanders:

Henry Washington Hilliard, an author, a lawyer and congressman, was born in Cumberland County, NC, 4 August 1808. The family relocated to Columbia, SC, and he graduated from South Carolina College in 1826. He read law in Columbia and in Athens, GA, being admitted to the bar at Athens in 1829. He also served as a professor of English literature at the University of Alabama for three years. Resigning, Hilliard moved to Montgomery and opened a law parctice. He also entered politics, representing the county in the state legislature, and he was on the William Henry Harrison electoral ticket. He ran for Congress and was defeated, but he accepted as a reward for loyal service a mission to Belgium; he was abroad for two years. He ran again for Congress in 1845 and was elected for three successive terms. Declining further time in Congress, Hilliard resumed his law practice, occassionally serving as a preacher with the Methodist Church. He was well known as an anti-secessionist, but when President Lincoln called for volunteers to put down the South, he began to support the Confederate government.

Hilliard was sent as the Commissioner of the Confederate States to treat with Tennessee and persuade them to secede. On 24 April 1862, Hilliard was commissioned a colonel and authorized to recruit a "legion" of about 3,000 men for Confederate service. The command was divided into a cavalry battalion, three infantry battalions, and one artillery battalion which served mostly as infantry. Hilliard's principal service was in East Tennessee during the latter part of 1862. He resigned his commission on 1 December 1862 to turn his attention to personal affairs. He returned to Montgomery and the practice of law.

Following the war, Hilliard resided in Atlanta, GA, and practiced law. He tried to run for Congress in 1876, but lost, and he served as U.S. Minister to Brazil (1877-1881) at a time when Brazil was dealing with the issue of the emancipation of slaves. He returned home to Atlanta in 1881 and died there, 17 December 1892. As an author, he was best known for his reminiscences, Politics and Pen Pictures at Home and Abroad (1892).

Jack Thorington was born in County Armagh, Ireland, in 1810. His family moved to Montgomery, AL, from Ireland, when he was eighteen. The ship carrying his family arrived at New Orleans in January 1828, and they then journeyed to Montgomery where an older brother practiced law. Initially, he entered the mercantile business. About 1834, he became a lawyer; three years later, he was elected a director of the State Bank�s Montgomery branch. In 1837, Thorington refused the office of Intendant (Mayor) when it was offered to him by the Town Council. After Montgomery was granted its city charter in 1839, Thorington was elected the second mayor of Montgomery. Two years later he opened a law practice with Henry W. Hilliard [q.v.]. By 1850, Thorington organized the Wetumpka Plank Road Company.

On 24 April 1862, Thorington was elected Lt. Col. of Hilliard�s Legion. When the Legion was organized into battalions in June 1862, he was named commander of the 1st Battalion and the Legion�s senior Lt. Col. Thorington served mainly in East Tennessee in 1862 and 1863. When Col. Hilliard resigned in December 1862, Thorington was promoted to Col. and succeeded him as commander of the Legion.

Following his resignation, due to failing health, on 19 November 1863, at 53 years of age, Thorington returned to the practice of law in Montgomery where he died in 1871. [Biographical sketch, and editorial assistance, provided by R. D. Thorington, Montgomery, AL]

The Battalions:

1st Battalion | 2nd Battalion | 3rd Battalion | 4th Battalion [Artillery] | 5th Battalion [Cavalry]

Hilliard's Legion

Hilliard's Legion was organized at Montgomery, 25 June 1862, with one artillery, one cavalry, and three infantry battalions, consisting of about 3,000 men, all engaged in training and drill until the 8th of July. On that date, the Legion was transported through Atlanta to Chattanooga where it remained about 3 weeks. Then, Hilliard's Legion was armed and continued with training. [The 5th Cavalry Battalion was detached within months and transferred to the 10th Confederate Cavalry Regiment, 30 Dec 1862. The artillery arm, the Fourth Battalion, was also detached. Part of this battalion, Company "C", was redesignated as an independent artillery [Kolb's] battery.]

On 4 August 1862, the Legion was moved to Knoxville, and it began its first march, to Tazwell, 41 miles, on the 14th. The Legion then moved up and was assigned first to Brigadier Gen'l John Porter McCown's Brigade, Dept. of East Tennessee, in which it served at the siege of Cumberland Gap, then held by Union forces under Gen'l G. W. Morgan. The Gap was occupied on 17 September, and the Legion remained in place for two weeks. Then, on 2 October, it began what would extend through the fall and winter, CS Gen'l Braxton Bragg's Kentucky [and East Tennessee] Campaign. The Legion advanced about 150 miles, bringing up the rear of Bragg's forces. After the Battle of Perryville, the Legion was again in the rear, arriving again at Cumberland Gap in late October, 1862.

On the 4th of November, the command was moved through Knoxville to Loudon, then to Bridgport, AL, and back to Knoxville by the 25th. At this point, the several battalions of the Legion went into winter quarters, at different stations around Cumberland Gap.

During the winter months, Col. Hilliard resigned and was replaced in April, 1862, by Col. Jack Thorington (from the 1st Battalion). Command of the 1st Battalion was assumed by Lt. Col. John H. Holt. About the 10th of April, 1863, the four battalions [the cavalry battalion was detached earlier] came together at Lee's Springs and were placed in Brigadier Gen'l Archibald Gracie's Brigade.

With the exception of a brief movement to Bean's Station and Morristown (TN), the Legion remained stationary at Cumberland Gap until the 9th of August, generally acting as pickets on the Kentucky side. At that point, the Legion joined the concentration of forces near Chattanooga which ultimately fought at Chickamauga, where the Legion arrived on 18 September 1863.

At Chickamauga (19-20 September 1863), the Legion was held in reserve the first day. On the second day, they followed the advancing army until about 3:30 when Gen'l Gracie ordered them to move forward, "double-quick!" against a Union log fortification. In earning an excellent reputation in that battle, the Legion lost something like 45% of the 902 men engaged. The 1st Battalion carried 239 into combat and lost 169 killed or wounded, including Lt. Col. Holt whose wound was mortal. [Command of the 1st Battalion fell to Capt. George W. Huguley (Co. "C").] The 3rd Battalion lost 50 k and w out of 219. Lt. Col. Hall and Capt. Walden, successively in command of the 2nd Battalion, were both wounded.

Hilliard's Legion is claimed to have been the first among Gracie's Brigade to place its colors in the Union works, but the flag was shot through by 83 bullets, and the ensign, Robert Y. Hiett, was promoted to lieutenant for his gallantry. The 3rd Battalion was complimented on the field by Gen'l William Preston.

After Chickamauga, Major Daniel S. Troy commanded the Legion. It continued in Gracie's Brigade Missionary Ridge, guarding the approaches to Chattanooga, until on 25 November 1863, it was dissolved [see Document below].

On the 19th of November, Col. Thorington resigned his command and the Legion was transported by rail to Charleston, TN, arriving on 25 November. At that point, the Legion was broken up and divided into the 59th (2nd and 4th Battalions) and 60th (Cos. "A", "B", "C", and "D" of the 1st, and the six companies of the 3rd Battalions) Alabama Infantry Regiments, and the 23rd Sharpshooters Battalion (Cos. "E", "F", and "G" of the 1st Battalion). Command of the 59th Alabama was given to Col. Bolling Hall; the 60th was given to Col. J. W. A. Sanford; and Major Nicholas Stallworth commanded the 23rd Battalion.

Field and staff officers: Cols. Henry Washington Hilliard; Jack Thorington; [Alsey] H. Bradford [temporary]; Lt. Cols. Bolling Hall, jr.; John Hackett Holt; William N. Reeves; John William Augustine Sanford; Jack Thorington; Majors Hatch Cook; John D. McLennan; William Thomas Stubblefield; Miles M. Slaughter; Daniel Shipman Troy; and Adjutants James N. Gilmer; John Murray; A. S. James; and Charles S. Malloy

Historical resources:

1st Battalion, Hilliard's Legion

Within the Legion, the 1st Infantry Battalion was organized with 7 companies at Montgomery, 25 June 1862. Four companies consolidated with the 3rd Infantry Battalion, Hilliard's Legion, and they were designated the 60th Infantry Regiment at Charleston, TN, on 25 November 1863. The remaining 3 companies became the 23rd Sharpshooters Battalion. The field officers were Lt. Col. Jack Thorington and Major (then Lt. Col.) John H. Holt. The unit was assigned to the 4th Brigade, McCown's Division, Dept. of East Tennessee (Oct.-Nov., 1862); 5th Brigade, Heth's Division, Dept. of East Tennessee (Nov. 62); Palmer's Brigade, Dept. of East Tennessee (Dec., 1862-March 1863); Gracie's Brigade, Dept. of East Tennessee (April-Sept., 63); Gracie's Brigade, Preston's Division, Buckner's Corps, Army of Tennessee (Sept.-Oct., 63); and Gracie's Brigade, Buckner's Division, 1st Corps, Army of Tennessee (Oct.-Nov., 63). The Battalion fought at Chickamauga (19-20 Sept., 63) and at the Siege of Chattanooga (Sept.-Nov 63).

Upon the dissolution of Hilliard's Legion in November 1863, Co. "A" of the 2nd Battalion became Co. "F"; Co. "B" became Co. "K"; Co. "C" became Co. "A"; Co. "D" became Co. "G"; Co. "E" became Co. "B"; and Co. "F" became Co. "C", all of the 59th Alabama Infantry Regiment.

1st Battalion field and staff officers: Lt. Cols. Jack Thorington (promoted); John H. Holt; Major Daniel S. Troy [to 60th Alabama Infantry]; and Adjutants John Massey; and William P. Hilliard

2nd Battalion, Hilliard's Legion

The 2nd Infantry Battalion was organized with six companies at Montgomery on 25 June 62. It was consolidated with the 4th (artillery) Battalion and designated as the 59th Infantry Regiment at Charleston, TN, 25 November 1863.

2nd Battalion field and staff officers: Lt. Col. Bolling Hall, jr. [promoted to Col., 59th Alabama Infantry] ; Major William T. Stubblefield [mustered out, 1 Dec 1863]; and Adjutant Crenshaw Hall [to 59th Alabama Infantry]

[The unit's assignments were as for the 1st Battalion except that for the period (December 1862-March 1863) when the unit was assigned to Gracie's Brigade, Dept. of East Tennessee. The battles they participated in are the same as the 1st Battalion.]

3rd Battalion, Hilliard's Legion

The 3rd Infantry Battalion was organized with six companies at Montgomery, 25 June 1862. It was consolidated with four companies of the 1st Infantry Battalion and designated the 60th Infantry Regiment at Charleston, TN, on 25 November 1863.

3rd Battalion field and staff officers: Lt. Col. John William Augustine Sanford; Major Hatch Cook.

[Its assignments were as for the 1st Battalion except for the period December 1862-March 1863 when it was assigned to Knoxville and the Dept. of East Tennessee. Otherwise, assignments and battle participation is the same.]

4th Battalion, Artillery, Hilliard's Legion

The 4th Artillery Battalion was organized with five companies at Montgomery on 25 June 1862. It was consolidated with the 2nd Infantry Battalion and designated the 59th Infantry Regiment at Charleston on 25 November 1863.

4th Battalion field and staff officers: Lt. Col. William N. Reeves (resigned, 20 May 1863); John D. McLennan (to 59th Alabama Infantry).

[Its assignments and battle participation is the same as the 1st Battalion.]

4th Battalion, Co. "C", Hilliard's Legion: Barbour Light Artillery, or Kolb's Battery

The Barbour Light Artillery was organized at Eufaula in April 1862 with a complement of about 325 officers and men. It was mustered into Confederate service on 30 April 62 and then proceeded to Montgomery where it was divided in two. With two other companies, it organized as the artillery battalion of Hilliard's Legion. After reaching Chattanooga, only one company was equipped as artillery; the others continued with the Legion as infantry. The Barbour Light Artillery Company was soon detached and served throughout the rest of the war as an independent artillery company, Kolb's Battery. It participated in the Kentucky Campaign, then was assigned to Samuel C. Williams' and George S. Storrs' Battalion of Artillery, Army of Tennessee. It fought in the various battles of the Army of Tennessee from Chickamauga to Atlanta, then saw action in Gen'l John Bell Hood's winter operations in Tennessee. The company reported 2 k and 1 w at Chickamauga, had 102 present in December 1863, and 96 in April 1864. In January 1865, it was sent to North Carolina. It surrendered at Augusta, GA, in April. Of the men of the company, about 45 died of disease, and about 70 were killed or wounded.

Kolb's Battery officers: Capts. William N. Reeves (promoted); Reuben F. Kolb; 1st Lts. Jonathan D. McLennan (promoted); Robert Cherry; Patrick F. Powers; and 2nd Lts. A. J. Locks (resigned, 23 Aug 62); James Lang; Robert B. Flournoy; and W. Y. Johnson (detached).

Armament: two 6-lb Smoothbores and two 12-lb Howitzers (as of 29 March 1864)

Historical Resources:

5th Battalion, Cavalry, Hilliard's Legion

The 5th Cavalry Battalion was organized with five companies at Montgomery on 25 June 1862. It merged into the 10th Confederate Cavalry Regiment on 30 December 1862.

5th Battalion field and staff officers: Major Miles M. Slaughter.

[Assignments as for the 1st Infantry Battalion until it merged into the 10th Alabama Cavalry Regiment.]

History: Lucille Griffith (ed.) / Yours till death: Civil War letters of John W. Cotton (University : University of Alabama Press, 1951).

Document: SPECIAL ORDERS No. 280. ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Richmond, Va., November 25, 1863.
XV. The organization known as Hilliard's Alabama Legion is hereby dissolved, and the companies composing it will be organized into two regiments and a battalion of sharpshooters, as follows: The Second and Fourth Battalions will constitute the Fifty-ninth Regiment Alabama Volunteers, with the following field and staff officers: Bolling Hall, jr., colonel; John D. McLennan, lieutenant-colonel; G. W. Huguley, major; J. J. Kaigler, assistant quartermaster; John Dixon, assistant surgeon; Crenshaw Hall, adjutant. Ten companies of the First and Third Battalions will constitute the Sixtieth Regiment Alabama Volunteers, with the following field and staff officers: John W. A. Sanford, colonel; D. S. Troy, lieutenant-colonel; Hatch Cook, major; Clayton Wilson, assistant quartermaster; James B. Luckie, assistant surgeon; J. N. Gilmer, adjutant. The remaining three companies of the First Battalion (E, F, and G) will be formed into a battalion of sharpshooters, to be known as the Twenty-third Alabama Battalion Sharpshooters, and Capt. John A. Fitzpatrick will report for duty as assistant quartermaster of the battalion. The appointment of a field officer to command the battalion of sharpshooters will be hereafter considered by the War Department. The commissions of the officers connected with the legion who are not assigned to duty by this order will expire on the 1st day of December, 1863. General Bragg is charged with carrying into effect the provisions of this order.
By command of the Secretary of War: JNO. WITHERS, [31.] Assistant Adjutant-General.
[from, Official Records, vol. 52, pt.2, p.563]

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