JEREMIAH MILLS, the son of Joseph and Sarah Haines Mills, was born in Portage County Ohio May 1 1836. In 1860 the family lived in the area near Rock Island Illinois.
In October 1861, after the start of the Civil War, twenty-five year old Jeremiah enlisted from Tama County Iowa into Company G of the 14th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. His enlistment was for a three year term. Along with his regiment Jeremiah fought at the important battle of Fort Donelson and soon aftwerwards he fought again at the battle of Shiloh where he was wounded in the hand helping hold the defensive line now called the Hornets' Nest.
Rebel forces attacked the Union army encamped at Pittsburg Landing Tennessee at dawn on April 6 1862, catching Generals Grant and Sherman unprepared for any enemy assault. The surprised Federal forces quickly gave way or were pushed back after several short fierce fights until finally a stiff line of resistance formed in the center of the battlefield along an old country lane. The southern men who tried to take that strong position later said the bullets flew at them like a swarm of hornets.
The Union men held this line for hours, through several waves of frontal attacks, and the largest cannon bombardment yet seen on this continent until late in the day they were finally surrounded, All but out of ammunition, and no hope for support, they were forced to surrender just as the sun was setting.
The long delay provided by the men of the "Nest", at the cost of their own freedom, had bought for Grant the crucial time he desperately needed to reorganize his scattered army, resupply his exhausted troops, and to bring up thousands of fresh reinforcements. The next day Grant took the offensive and won the crucial two day battle of Shiloh.
Sometime before the surrender of the Nest, Jeremiah Mills was sent to the rear to have his wounded hand treated, thus he was saved from having to make the long trip to a POW camp in Georgia where many of his companions from Company G never returned.
After Shiloh, Mills fought on campaigns through Mississippi and Louisiana where he particpated in the taking of Fort DeRussy and in the hard fought battle of Pleasant Hill and other smaller fights. As his three year term of enlistment was coming to a close, Mills volunteered for another tour of duty and he remained behind when the rest of the 14th Iowa mustered out. He was then reorganized into Company A of the 14th Iowa Residuary Battalion, which was stationed at Camp Butler near Springfield Illinois in early 1865. They were still there when word came that President Lincoln had been assassinated.
The men of the 14th Iowa were among those troops who became the escorts and honor guards for Lincoln's funeral and burial in Springfield. Some of them were selected as special guards at the bier as it lie in state under the rotunda of the illinois Statehouse, while others were chosen to serve as guards at the crypt afterwards. They all marched in procession or guarded the parade route and all were particpants and witnesses to one of the saddest most memorable days in American history.
A battle hardened veteran, Mills finally mustered out in August 1865. After serving almost four years during the War, Mills returned to his family in cDonough County Illinois. There he married Esther Rozella Combs, daugher of Andrew and Eunice Combs. Later they moved to St. Louis where he earned his living as a carpenter and where they raised their children Addy Mae, Roy, Bertha, Clarence and Ernest.
Mills died in St. Louis on April 9, 1904. He is buried there in St. Peter's cemetery surrounded by his wife and children.
Recently a complete dairy and many letters written by men from Tama County Iowa, who had enlisted and served with Mills in the 14th Iowa Company G, has been published by the Traer Iowa Museumin alarge keepsake quality hardbound book. Mills is mentioned several times in the diary and letters. Anyone interested in this Mills family or in the Civil War, or in first hand accounts of soldiers from the frontlines of the War might enjoy this book. It is called SOLDIER LIFE - MANY MUST FALL and can be found at the museum website ( www.traermuseum.com ).
The book is meant to honor MIlls and his companions and to keep alive the memory of their service and sacrifice for this country in time for the 150 anniversary of start of the War.