James William Reilly

James William Reilly was born May 20, 1828, in Akron, Ohio. He was educated at Mount St. Mary's College (Emmittsburg, Maryland), studied law, was admitted to the bar, and in 1861 was elected to the Ohio legislature from Columbiana County. It is said that in the early years of his law practice in Wellsville, Ohio, it was not uncommon for him to walk from there to Lisbon, the county seat, a distance of some fifteen miles. Reilly was appointed colonel of the 104th Ohio upon its organization on August 30, 1862. This regiment garrisoned various points in Kentucky until the summer of 1863 when it  joined Ambrose E. Burnside's army in East Tennessee. In the siege of Knoxville, Reilly commanded a brigade of Hascall's division of the XXIII Corps. The following spring his brigade took part in the Atlanta campaign, and at one point, although still a colonel, Reilly commanded the 3rd Division of the XXIII Corps. Reilly was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on July 30, 1864, and after the Confederate evacuation of Atlanta accompanied G. H. Thomas' forces back to Tennessee to oppose John B. Hood's invasion of the state. At the bloody battle of Franklin which cost the Confederacy twelve general officers, Reilly distinguished himself again in temporary command of the 3rd Division of his corps—his men claimed one thousand prisoners and twenty-two battle flags. He was not present at the battle of Nashville, but directed the division during the movement which brought John M. Schofield's forces together with William T. Sherman's in the Carolinas. He served until his resignation was accepted on April 20, 1865, only a few days before the capitulation of J. E. Johnston and his army. This no doubt militated against his brevet promotion to major general. General Reilly then returned to Wellsville and resumed his law practice. A lifelong bachelor, he discharged innumerable duties of public trust including membership in the state constitutional convention of 1873, trustee of the Soldiers' Home at Xenia, counselor to young lawyers in the courts of eastern Ohio; and for many years the presidency of the First National Bank of Wellsville. He died at his home on November 6, 1905, and was buried in St. Elizabeth's Cemetery, Wellsville.

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