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When he surrendered his twenty-six hundred man cavalry brigade on May 17, 1865 near Munford, Alabama, this individual, who had fought forty-two major battles and many minor skirmishes, became the last commander of a major unit to capitulate to Federal forces, thus ending the conflict in the states east of the Mississippi. He had privately stated prior to the war when visiting Washington and meeting Abraham Lincoln, who was running for president, that he opposed secession, but, if war came, he would side with the South and devote all of his energy and resources to its cause. His four-year sojourn in the Confederate Army of Tennessee had certainly proven his remark to be true. Decorated for bravery many times, seemingly oblivious of the dangers involved in combat, he proved to be an outstanding military leader who loved and cared for his men and fought like a demon in battle. In the battle of Chickamauga a Yankee sniper saw him riding up and down the battle line urging his men on in the attack. The sniper later remarked, "I tried my best to kill him, but he was a 'marked man.'" His fearlessness in battle transferred itself to the men under him, resulting in unbelievable exploits of bravery and heroism by his units. Thus Benjamin Jefferson Hill, a brigadier general in the Army of Tennessee, laid down his sword that he had wielded so valiantly and returned home to rebuild his life and resources. Known by his men as the "Lion of Ben Lomond," Hill had a great affection for his home state and the mountains especially. He held a special fondness for Ben Lomond, which looked so green, lush, and peaceful as he walked the streets of McMinnville in earlier days before the war. In leading his men in an attack, instead of saying "forward" he would say, "Come on, boys, recollect the mountains." The most outstanding example of bravery by a commander and his men was accomplished by the 35th Regiment, which he commanded at the battle of Shelton Hill, near Corinth, Mississippi, a few clays after the battle of Shiloh. With Federal troops pressing Beauregard's army, and time needed to reorganize to meet them again in battle, Hill was ordered to counterattack the front elements of the Union army along with another unit. As the 35th attacked the entrenched enemy, it was discovered that the supporting unit had failed to get the order and was not involved in the attack. Without hesitating, Hill urged his men forward and dislodged the enemy, routing a unit highly superior in size and easing the pressure on the southem army. General R T. Beauregard issued the following General Orders: "The General commanding mentions with great pleasure to the army the distinguished conduct of Colonel B. J. Hill and his regiment, the Fifth (35th) Tennessee volunteers, in an affair with the enemy yesterday. This order is issued with the greatest satisfaction because the gallant officer and his command have been conspicuous for their action on the field." Later on in the war General Pat Clebume, a favorite of common soldiers in the Army of Tennessee, made this statement about Benjamin J. Hill and his regiment: "I want to see a monument erected to the memory of the mountaineers of the Cumberland in the sixties, and McMinnville is the proper place. Let the statue of a typical Confederate soldier be placed on the base and the Lion of Ben Lomond be sleeping at his feet." Ben J. Hill was a man fondly remembered by his men as long as they lived. Strong-willed, energetic, highly intelligent with good business sense, articulate, full of faults, and aggressive, Benjamin Jefferson Hill was a prime mover in his day. Things happened whenever he was around. Ben Hill was born on June 13, 1825, the son of Isaac and Frances Pickett Hill, in the Irving College area of Warren County. His grandfather, Benjamin Hill, was a brother of Henry John Alexander Hill, the representative who presented the petition to create Warren County. He grew up on a farm. His father died in 1834 when Ben was only nine years old. He borrowed the money to attend and graduate from Irving College, probably the most prestigious learning institute for miles around in that era. After graduating in 1844 he moved to McMinnville, entering the mercantile business as a clerk for the Colville and White General Store on East Main Street. After a few years he moved to the D. G. Stone mercantile business situated where the present First Presbyterian Church is located. It appears that he was acting as the store manager by that time. On August 29, 1850, Hill married Mary Virginia Smartt (Vesta), the daughter of George Randolph and Athelia Randolph Smartt, in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church on East Main Street (now the sales lot of Willmore Ford). In selecting a wife, Ben secured a noble, refined, and shrewd companion. To this union one daughter named Lou Lillian was born, who tragically lived only three weeks. By the middle 1850s Hill was an active member of the McMinnville society, becoming a city alderman, the town treasurer,and a merchant, opening his own store about 1857, known as B.J. Hill Grocery. Also in 1857 he was elected as state senator from the senatorial district comprised of Warren, Cannon, Coffee, Grundy, and Van Buren counties. He was a Democrat politically, and as a member of the 32nd General Assembly he had a hand in creating Sequatchie County, forming a new judicial circuit including Sequatchie, Marion, Bledsoe, White, Morgan, Cumberland, and Fentress counties; and abolishing military training. Returning home, Ben Hill undertook the management of the Warren House, which had apparently suffered financial reverses, and through his management skills turned it into a profitable operation realizing a twenty-eight hundred dollar net profit for the next year, a considerable sum in those days. He had been active in promoting the creation of the Manchester and McMinnville railroad and supported the Warren County Agricultural and Industrial Society and the Farmers Manufacturing Company, which was organized in the 1850s as a clothing factory and was later destroyed by fire in 1857. When war came, Hill took an active part in the formation of the 16th Tennessee Regiment, and six months later, after Tennessee joined the Confederacy in June, he played an even greater role in the formation of the 5th Tennessee Regiment, which after its induction into the Confederate Army was renamed the 35th, due to another unit already being designated as the 5th. On September 6, 1861, Benjamin J. Hill was elected as colonel and commander of the unit with nine companies, five from Warren County and one each from Van Buren, Cannon, Sequatchie, and DeKalb counties. Just what Hill's military qualifications were is not known. It is possible that he had participated in the state militia and had taken military training at Irving College. There is no record of any previous military training or participation in the Mexican War during the years 1846 - 1848. Like so many great leaders for the South in the war, his greatness was derived from his personal leadership qualities and instincts in carrying out his assigned missions. After a short training period at Camp Smartt, near the Liberty Presbyterian Church, the fully organized regiment was ordered to report to General Foster and was sent to Bowling Green, Kentucky, the headquarters of General Albert Sydney Johnston. After the fall of Fort Donelson early in 1862 his regiment was sent to Shiloh and participated in that bloody battle, occupying a perilous position in the left center of the Confederate field forces. In the hotly contested fight his gallant regiment passed through a furnace of fire, attested by the fact that three hundred brave men, killed or wounded, departed from its ranks. As several ranking officers were killed or wounded, seriously depleting the command, Colonel Hill was ordered to take command of the left side of the Confederate line, reaching to the Tennessee River. In three desperate encounters on that day, Colonel Hill whipped the enemy, secured the line, and saved the day. Unfortunately, General Albert Sydney Johnston, one of the South's finest officers, was killed at Shiloh, a serious blow to the Confederate command. The army fell back on Corinth, where Colonel Hill's unit again saved the day in the action at Shelton Hill, resulting in the citation for outstanding bravery. When Bragg's army invaded Kentucky later in 1862, the 35th participated in the bloody battles of Richmond and Perryville. An interesting story prior to the battle of Perryville comes to us from the diary of Pvt. Stokeley Etter, a member of the 16th Regiment. Evidently, Hill addressed the assembled members of both regiments prior to their offensive which swept the field and carried the day, capturing many prisoners and much equipment. As he ended his enthusiastic and stirring remarks arousing the men to action, he shouted, "Shoot em in the rear, boys, that's where their heart is!" His rapport with his men allowed him to get one hundred per cent participation in every endeavor of the horrible conflict. Hill and his unit were at Murfreesboro in that ferocious battle, won by neither side. By the time Chickamanga was fought he had been promoted to brigadier general, his leadership abilities having been recognized and rewarded. With the relief of Bragg as commander of the Army of Tennessee and the appointment of General Joe Johnston, Hill became the acting Provost Marshal General. As a member of Johnston's staff he participated in the gallant retreat into Atlanta. With the fall of Atlanta, he followed Hood on his march towards Nashville. Accepting command of a cavalry brigade, he was in the horrendous battle at Franklin that effectively slaughtered the cream of Hood's army. With the coming of the batde of Nashville, his brigade was engaged in a battle near Murfreesboro along with Forrest. As Hood's army retreated toward Alabama to rejoin Johnston's army in South Carolina, Hill's brigade fought a rear guard delaying action which saved the remnants of the army from annihilation. Lee surrendered the Army of Virginia in early April of 1865 and Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee at Greensboro, N.C., in late April of 1865, but Hill and his brigade continued to battle Union forces, pressing them in Alabama. This continued until May 17, 1865, when Hill surrendered his command, realizing that continued fighting was hopeless. Hill had a net worth when the war began of seventy-five thousand dollars, a considerable sum for a thirty-six-year-old man in Tennessee in 1861. When he returned home in 1865, he had nothing. Undaunted, he buckled down to recoup his losses and rebuild his county and his state. With four years of war under his belt, he seemed totally unembittered at his lot. He had given his best, fought for his convictions and failed, but he was still alive and ready to forget and rebuild. He reopened his store (it had to be rebuilt), began operation of the Warren House, and again became active in the affairs of the community and county. McMinnville was still occupied by Federal forces when he retumed and a group of outsiders, chiefly northemers, had moved in to take over. Returning Confederates quickly signed oaths of allegiance to restore their citizenship, banded together with their neighbors who had remained loyal to the Union during the conflict, and soon defeated the outsiders' efforts to control things. By 1868, the county was once again solidly in the hands of its citizens. In 1867 an effort was made to organize a Ku Klux Klan in McMinnville. At a meeting held in the courthouse, General Hill, Colonel John H. Savage, both Confederate officers, and Colonel W. J. Clift, a Union officer from McMinnville, all made speeches condemning the Klan and its objectives, emphasizing that Warren Countians could work out their own problems and protect their citizens whether black or white, Protestant or Catholic or Jewish. No Klan was organized in Warren County until the 1880s when a clandestine organization calling itself the Klan was created ostensibly to protect the illegal whiskey makers throughout the county. In 1870 Hill closed his store and, while his wife continued the operation of the Warren House, began the study of law. In the meantime, the Warren House burned to the ground in one of McMinnviUe's most remembered downtown fires. Hill was among the group of financiers who formed a corporation to rebuild the Warren House, resulting in the erection of the new structure which stood on the southwest comer of the square into the 1960s. At the same time, efforts had been under way to get the McMinnville and Manchester railroad back into physical and financial shape to resume normal operation following its destruction during four years of war. At the war's end, its physical plant and equipment were in dismal condition and the company was bankrupt. Hill assumed the presidency of the railroad and slowly but painfully began its restoration into a fully operational transportation system so vital to the economic recovery of Warren County. He continued as president until July of 1877, when the system was sold to the NC & S&L railroad. In 1872 Hill became mayor of McMinnville. He was also chairman of the board of elders of the Main Street Presbyterian Church. If Hill had a major problem or fault, it was his addiction to alcohol. Various entries from his soldiers' diaries refer to the old man having "met the tiger," meaning he was indisposed from drinking. Under wartime conditions with the stress, strain, and demands of mnning a Confederate military unit which usually lacked for everything including food, medicine, ammunition, and arms of all kinds, poor communications, and multitudes of other problems, it was understandable that some relief from the burdens be sought. Alcoholism was a continuing problem in both armies in the Civil War, and Hill's men accepted his plight with seeming resignation and understanding. The problem continued at various intervals after the end of the conflict and until his premature death. On one occasion during the summer of 1872 Hill appeared on Main Street in a most drunken condition and began berating and arguing with all he came in contact with. Seeing his condition, the town Marshal arrested Hill and threw him into the calaboose for sobering up. The esteem in which the citizens held Ben Hill was noted after the incident, since there was little or no criticism conceming the matter even though it involved their mayor and a leading church officer. It is likely that, with his usually personable but now somewhat unusually humble disposition, he apologized to all concerned. This was Ben Hill. Sometime after Andrew Johnson completed his term as president and returned to Tennessee he dropped by to see Hill, having known him very well prior to the war. During the day they imbibed rather heavily and decided to take a buggy ride. Coming back to the house still later they got into a political argument just as they began ascending a rather steep hill. Hill ordered Johnson to get out of the buggy and made him walk up the hill before again letting him aboard. While arguments could get so fierce that they fought wars to decide the right, they could nevertheless become or even remain steadfast friends when such a war was over. During the middle 1870s Ben Hill began getting letters from former associates asking him to plan a reunion of his old soldiers and to also write a history of the 35th Regiment. He began compiling the information and, just prior to the reunion of the 16th Tennessee Regiment, held in McMinnville in the summer of 1877, Hill notified several of his former officers that a reunion would be held in McMinnville in the summer of 1878 and that he had the information available to write a unit history. He stated in one letter that he had rosters of all the units along with those killed, wounded, and promoted plus all the other information on battles, places traveled, and interesting events. However, when 1878 arrived, so did a terrible cholera and yellow fever epidemic that affected all of Tennessee. It was so terrible that people were advised to stay away from crowds and not to assemble in large groups. This killed the hopes for a reunion of the 35th. By 1879, Hill's health was so poor that he could not organize a reunion. The reunion was to have included ex-President Jefferson Davis with an expected crowd of twenty thousand traveling to McMinnville for the festivities. Benjamin Jefferson Hill died at his home on January 5, 1880, only fifty-four years old. He was laid to rest under a large oak tree next to his baby daughter in the old City Cemetery in McMinnville. His devoted wife, Mary Vesta, lived until March 1, 1909, and became one of the last people to be interred in the old cemetery on High Street. Hill lived and died in one of the most troublesome times in Warren County history. He knew the best of times, and he knew the worst of times. Through it all, he persevered, always looking to the future and doing what he could to make our community a better place to live.