Elias Smith Dennis

Elias Smith Dennis was born December 4, 1812, in Newburgh, New York. After spending his boyhood on Long Island, he migrated to Illinois and in 1838, in Carlyle, married the widow of Congressman Charles Slade. By this marriage he acquired title not only to a rather unsuccessful gristmill, but also to a stepson who later became a celebrated Western desperado, the notorious "Jack" or "Cap" Slade and who, in his early years, assisted in the mill. Despite his age, Dennis served in both houses of the Illinois legislature between 1842 and 1846 and in the 1850's was a U. S. marshal in Kansas Territory. On August 28, 1861, he was mustered into service as lieutenant colonel of the 30th Illinois Infantry. Dennis compiled a most creditable record in the war and was commended at Fort Donelson and at a subsequent engagement in Tennessee by his superiors. He became colonel of the 30th Illinois on May 1, 1862, and brigadier general of volunteers to rank from November 29. During the Vicksburg campaign, commanding elements of Logan's division of McPherson's XVII Corps, he was sent to the "leased plantations in Louisiana," in and near Young's Point and Milliken's Bend. At the end of the war he was brevetted major general for gallant and meritorious services at the capture of Mobile. After a brief interval as military governor of Shreveport, General Dennis was mustered out in August. The widowed Dennis now took up residence in Madison Parish, Louisiana, an area well known to him through prior station in the vicinity. Here he was elected sheriff in 1880, after having for five years been the husband of a widow who owned a nearby plantation. In 1886 he moved back to Carlyle and made his home with a son there. He died on December 17, 1894, in Carlyle, and was buried in the City Cemetery. Probably, no other officer of his rank, accomplishments, and distinction has had his career so completely overlooked by the contemporary newspapers upon the occasion of his death. No obituary appeared in the Chicago Tribune, nor any other Illinois paper; two days later the New York Tribune carried sixteen lines, having been apparently alerted by its southern Illinois correspondent.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.