Joshua Woodrow Sill

Joshua Woodrow Sill, after whom Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was named, was born on December 6, 1831, in Chillicothe, Ohio. His early education was in large measure secured from his father, a prominent attorney of the town. He was appointed to West Point in 1839 and was graduated third in the class of 1853, whose members included Philip Sheridan, James B. McPherson, John M. Schofield, and John B. Hood. Sill was brevetted an ordnance subaltern and served for a year at the Watervliet arsenal. He was then an instructor at West Point for three years and from 1857 until 1860 was on duty at a succession of arsenals. On January 25, 1861, he resigned his commission to become professor of mathematics and civil engineering in the Brooklyn (New York) Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. Upon the bombardment of Fort Sumter, he immediately offered his services to the governor of Ohio and was appointed assistant adjutant general of the state. He fought at Rich Mountain, West Virginia, in July with the 33rd Ohio and on August 27, 1861, became colonel of the regiment. By November he was commanding a brigade in D. C. Buell's Department of the Ohio, and it was a contingent from his command which in April, 1862, took part in the "Locomotive Raid" into Georgia which has been celebrated in song, story, and motion picture. During Buell's advance into Kentucky to intercept Braxton Bragg's Confederate invaders, Sill, who had been made brigadier general of volunteers on July 16, 1862, commanded the 2nd Division of Alexander McD. McCook's I Corps. Sill was not present at Perryville, a battle fought by segments of the armies of both commanders on October 19, 1862. At Murfreesboro, however, he was in charge of a brigade in Sheridan's division. The night before the opening of the battle he dropped into his former classmate's tent and upon leaving picked up Sheridan's uniform coat instead of his own. The following morning Bragg's daylight assault forced back the Union right and center, reminiscent of the forcing shut of a jack-knife blade with the hinge being the connection of T. L. Crittenden's right and the left of G. H. Thomas. Farther to the Federal right Sheridan's division which composed the left element of McCook's corps fought desperately after its right was overwhelmed. While at the head of his command, repulsing a Confederate assault, Sill, wearing Sheridan's tunic, was killed instantly. He was buried in Grand View Cemetery near Chillicothe.

Previous Page

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