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Private Light Heckleman Wilmoth

Light Heckleman Wilmoth
Phillips Legion Infantry, Company M & L

Nineteen year old Private Light H Wilmoth enlisted in Company M of the Phillips Legion's Infantry Battalion at Marietta, Georgia on April 28th, 1862. The young Cobb countian was following in the footsteps of his two older brothers, 33 year old Harrison and 21 year old William, who had enlisted in Co L of the Legion Infantry earlier that same month. It is assumed that Company L had filled it's ranks by the time Light enlisted, so he was placed in the next company being formed.

Light's compiled service records indicate him to have been a sturdy and reliable soldier and he appears to have been in action in almost all of the Legion's battles.......Second Manassas, South Mountain, Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg in 1862, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga and Knoxville in 1863, and the Overland campaign in 1864. At some point between February and September of 1863, Light was able to transfer into Company L to serve with his brothers. An entry on a roll dated October 6th, 1864 notes that he was "left at Gordonsville barefooted 24 Sept 64". This would have occurred as Kershaw's division was being rushed north from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley to reinforce Jubal Early's hard-pressed army. It is thus not clear whether Light had rejoined the Legion prior to it's participation in the battle of Cedar Creek on October 19th. He is definitely back with his unit around Richmond by November as there are various clothing receipts for him dated 11/5/64 and 11/10/64.

A very personal family tragedy struck at Gettysburg when Light's older brother William was captured on July 2nd, 1863. Imprisoned at Point Lookout, he died from small pox in November of 1863.

Light was fortunate to receive a 24 day furlough on January 7th, 1865 and returned home to Georgia. It is not clear whether or not Light was able to return to his unit. While he is not present on the list of Legion soldiers who surrendered at Appomattox, there is a statement made by witness S G Frey in Light's wife's 1910 application for a widow's pension that Frey "was captured on the 6th of April at Farmville (Sailors Creek) and never saw Light Wilmoth any more until I got home after the surrender." This at least raises the possibility that Light had returned to the Legion at war's end.

Light remained in Cobb County following the war and was married to Elizabeth N Beavers on March 7th, 1867. Like so many soldiers who had seen hard service during the war, Light did not live to an old age, dying on April 1st 1886 at the age of 42. Older brother Harrison also survived the war and lived on in Cobb County until he passed on in 1902. Light and his wife "Lizzie" today rest in the Marietta City Cemetery just a short distance from Colonel Phillips, the man who gave the Legion it's name.

Photo courtesy of Mr Jim Turner

Written by:Kurt Graham

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