Thomas Hewson Neill

Thomas Hewson Neill, a native of Philadelphia, was born April 9, 1826. He received his early education in the local public schools and then spent two years at the University of Pennsylvania, leaving at the end of his sophomore year to accept an appointment to West Point. He was graduated in the class of 1847, ranking twenty-seventh out of thirty-eight members. Neill did not take part in the Mexican War and until the outbreak of the Civil War was mainly employed on frontier duty with the 5th Infantry, except for three years he served as an instructor at the Military Academy. During the early months of the war he served on the upper Potomac as adjutant to Major General George Cadwalader, but in February, 1862, was commissioned colonel of the 23rd Pennsylvania, a command which he led throughout the Peninsular campaign in Darius N. Couch's division of Reyes's IV Corps. He was advanced to brigade command after Sharpsburg (a battle in which his regiment did not participate), directed the 3rd Bri-grade of Howe's VI Corps's division at Fredericksburg, and was appointed brigadier general of volunteers on April 15, 1863, to rank from November 29 1862. In the campaign of Chancellorsville he took part in John Sedgwick's operations against Marye's Heights and distinguished himself the next day at Salem Church. The VI Corps was in reserve at Gettysburg and saw little action, but the following autumn his brigade was engaged at Rappahannock Station and in the Mine Run campaign. At the battle of the Wilderness, which inaugurated U. S. Grant's campaign against Richmond, Neill, after the wounding of George W. Getty, succeeded to the command of the 2nd Division of the corps which he directed at Spotsylvania, the crossing of the North Anna, Cold Harbor, and the initial actions in front of Petersburg. After a short tour on the staff of the XVIII Corps, he joined Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah early in September, serving as acting inspector general on the latter's staff until December, after which he seems to have been unemployed. Brevetted major general in the volunteers and brigadier general in the Regulars, Neill reverted to the grade of major of infantry in the latter service in 1866. He transferred to the cavalry in 1870 and after four years as commandant of cadets at West Point was appointed colonel of the 8th Cavalry in 1879. He was then stationed at various points in Texas until his retirement "for disability contracted in line of duty" in 1883. General Neill died in Philadelphia March 12, 1885, and was buried at West Point.

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