A Civil War Biography

Josua Woodrow Sill

Sill was born 6 December 1831 in Chillicothe, Ohio. His father took time from his law practice to school his son. Although his father had hoped his son would study the law, Sill sought an appointment to West Point which he received in 1849. He graduated 3rd in the class of 1853, was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant, and assigned to the Ordnance Department.

His first assignment was at the Watervliet Arsenal in West Troy, New York. In 1855 he returned to West Point as an instructor and remained there for two years. He next was assigned to the Pittsburgh Arsenal where he tested ordnance equipment. In May 1858, he was sent to Vancouver, Washington Territory to supervise the building of an arsenal but difficulties with the British government nearly resulting in armed conflict killed the project. Sills was then reassigned to the Watervliet Arsenal then a few months later sent to Fort Leavenworth.

In the spring of 1860 he resigned his commission to accept a position as professor of mathematics and civil engineering at the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute.

Following the bombardment of Fort Sumter Sill resigned his teaching position and offered his services to the governor of Ohio. Sill was appointed the assistant adjutant general of the state in May 1861 and set upon the task of organizing troops. On 27 August 1861 he was commissioned colonel of the 33rd Ohio and took part in the eastern Kentucky expedition and saw action at Rich Mountain. He was then given command of the 9th brigade, 3rd division, Army of the Ohio on 2 December 1861 and commanded the brigade at Battle Creek, Tennessee and Perryville, Kentucky. His promotion to brigadier general of volunteers was confirmed by the US Senate on 29 July 1862 to rank from 16 July. He commanded the 1st brigade, 3rd division, XVI Corps at Stones River where on the second day, 31 December 1862, he was killed while leading his men forward.

In 1869 Sill's classmate and immediate commander at Stones River, Phillip Sheridan, officially established Fort Joshua W. Sill in Oklahoma. Fort Sill today is the largest artillery center in the world.

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