Davis Tillson was born in Rockland, Maine, on April 14, 1830. He attended West Point from July, 1849, until September, 1851, when he suffered an accident which resulted in the amputation of one of his legs and compelled his resignation. In 1857 he was elected to the Maine legislature, the following year was made adjutant general of the state, and in 1861 was appointed collector of customs for the Waldoboro district. On November 30, 1861, Tillson was mustered into the national service as captain of the 2nd Maine Battery, a unit of the 1st Mounted Artillery Regiment. He was advanced to major in May, 1862, and to lieutenant colonel in December. The seven batteries of the regiment fought in widely separated areas, and Tillson was soon serving in a succession of posts as chief of artillery to various commanders; during this time he took a most creditable part in the battles of Cedar Mountain and Second Manassas. On March 21, 1863, he was commissioned brigadier general of volunteers to rank from November 29, 1862. In April he was ordered to Cincinnati as chief of artillery for fortifications in the Department of the Ohio and subsequent to the siege of Knoxville was charged with supervision of the defensive works there, meantime commanding a brigade of infantry in Jacob Ammen's division of the XXIII Corps. In January, 1865, he became commander of the District of East Tennessee by virtue of General Ammen's resignation and as such was also commander of the 4th Division of the XXIII Corps. In March he took over a division of the Army of the Cumberland and served in this position until the end of the war. Tillson had been active in recruiting Negro soldiers and was retained in the army until December 1, 1866, while he directed branches of the Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee and Georgia. He then engaged as a cotton planter for a year in Georgia, but returned to his home state in 1868 and became interested in the lime and granite business. He died in Rockland on April 30, 1895, and was buried there.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.