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Elias Smith Dennis
Born (1812-12-04)December 4, 1812
Died December 17, 1894(1894-12-17) (aged 82)
Place of birth Newburgh, New York
Place of death Carlyle, Illinois
Place of burial Carlyle Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Union
Service/branch United States Union Army
Years of service 1861–66
Rank Union army maj gen rank insignia.jpg Brevet Major General
Commands held District of Northeastern Louisiana
Battles/wars

American Civil War

Other work Illinois state politician, judge, sheriff

Elias Smith Dennis (December 4, 1812 – December 17, 1894) was a lawyer, politician, and soldier from the state of Illinois who served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Early life and career

Dennis was born in Newburgh, New York, and grew up on Long Island. He moved to Carlyle, Illinois, in 1836. He married the Mary Kain Slade, the widow of Charles Slade, a U.S. Representative from Illinois.[1] Charles Slade has three sons that would be come Dennis' stepsons. William Slade, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Mexican War, Charles Slade, who married one of Sidney Breese's daughters who died in war leaving Sidney's daughter a widow, and Jack Slade, a wild west gunfighter that was hung by Montana vigilanties in 1861.

Dennis served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1842 to 1844 and was an Illinois State Senator from 1846 to 1848. In 1857, President James Buchanan appointed Dennis as U.S. Marshal of Kansas. He remained in office until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Civil War service

When the war began, Dennis was selected as the lieutenant colonel of the 30th Illinois Infantry. He participated in the capture of Fort Donelson, Tennessee. He was promoted to colonel in May 1862 and to brigadier general in November 1862, commanding a brigade of infantry in the Army of the Tennessee.

During the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, he was accused of selling army provisions to the Confederates near Vicksburg while his own men were underfed.[2] In April 1863, he fought in the Battle of Port Gibson and in May 1863, at the Battle of Raymond. Later in May, he was placed in command of the District of Northeast Louisiana when guerillas were causing problems on the leased plantations there. Troops from his command participated in the Battle of Milliken's Bend in June, one of the first battles to involve United States Colored Troops.

He served as the commanding officer of the Union militia in Louisiana until the end of the war. Dennis was mustered out of the volunteer army on August 24, 1865.[3] On January 13, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Dennis to receive the brevet grade of major general, to rank from April 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on March 12, 1866.[4]

Postbellum career

He was a parish judge and sheriff in Louisiana after the war. His estranged wife died in 1873, and two years later Dennis married a widow in Madison Parish who owned a plantation.[5] Dennis moved back to Carlyle, Illinois, in March 1887 and lived on a small farm with his son.

He died from pneumonia in Carlyle in 1894 and was buried in the City Cemetery.[1]

A bronze bust of Dennis was erected in 1915 on the Vicksburg National Military Park.[6]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Elias Smith Dennis". Find a Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/memorial/27728878. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  2. University of North Carolina library Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  3. Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 206
  4. Eicher, 2001, p. 711
  5. Dennis biography at rootsweb.com Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  6. Dennis statue Retrieved 2008-11-04.

Further reading

  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Wickliffe, Helen Sharp, Brigadier General Elias S. Dennis is Carlyle's Forgotten Hero of Civil War.

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