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Thursday October 19th 2017

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War and Peace shape state, national and family history: Minnesota, U.S. and Seymour Fillmore

 

Above: Gravestone of Seymour Fillmore “Died in Service” and buried in Memphis. Right: Monument honoring 189 members of the 9th Minnesota Voluntary Infantry who died in or from Civil War injuries  and were buried in Tennessee.

By Sue Hunter Weir

Seymour Fillmore has a marker in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery even though he is not buried there. Mr. Fillmore was a private, a wagoner, in Company B of the 9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. He enlisted on August 21, 1862, three days after the Dakota Conflict began. His company spent the next several months in Minnesota, engaging in battles with the Dakota at Acton and Hutchinson.

In the fall of 1863, soldiers in the 9th were furloughed for ten days and had the opportunity to spend some time with their families. For Seymour Fillmore, it was likely the last time that he saw them.

He had been married less than a year when he enlisted. He and Annie Sully were married on 4 November 1861; the following year their only child, also named Annie, was born. She was four months old when her father enlisted and less than a year and a-half old when his regiment went South.

On October 8, 1863, Company B boarded the steamer Chippewa Falls and headed to Winona. At Winona, they boarded a train for Missouri. That winter the conditions were deplorable. The men were wet and sick much of the time. In May 1864, they left for Guntown, Tennessee, where in June they experienced a disastrous defeat. Eight officers and 355 enlisted men were killed, wounded or lost.

Later that year, in November 1864, Colonel J. F. Marsh, in a report to Minnesota’s Adjutant General, described the conditions that the 9th Minnesota had endured the previous year: “During the past year the regiment has traveled about 4,000 miles, over 1,500 of which have been marched, the balance by boat and rail.” Conditions following their defeat at Guntown were so difficult that many of those who had survived were declared unfit for service and sent to military hospitals.

Seymour Fillmore died from disease in the military hospital in Memphis on September 29, 1864. He was buried in what was to become Memphis National Cemetery with approximately 14,500 other Union soldiers. Of those, 7,500 are “unknowns.” One hundred eighty nine of those who were identified were from Minnesota.

In 1916, the State of Minnesota erected a monument in the cemetery to honor them. Minnesota was the first, and one of only two states, the other being Illinois, to have erected such a monument. Mr. Fillmore has an individual upright marble military marker, as well.

His family wanted a memorial to him closer to home. They purchased and placed a memorial stone in remembrance of him. When his widow, Annie Sully Fillmore died in 1905, she was buried next to his marker in Lot 17, Block O. Their daughter Annie married Dr. Peter Holl. They were founding members of the Minneapolis Cemetery Protective Association and deserve most of the credit for preserving Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery in the 1920s.

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