Major Samuel Willard, Surgeon

97th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Submitted by: Lloyd Bahr

Dr Samuel Willard
97th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Doctor Samuel Willard was born in 30 December 1821in Lunenburg, Essex Co., Vermont. On the night of November 7 1837 he was witness to some of the events around the pro-slavery mob killing of Elijah P Lovejoy. This is considered, by many, the first unrecorded battle of the Civil War. Lovejoy was Americas first Martyr for freedom of the press. An award is given to journalist today that follow in his tradition of courage in the press. Samuel Willard contributed several pages to Henry Tanners book The Martyrdom of Lovejoy 1881. Dr Willard was enrolled in Illinois College in 1843. This was the same year he was arrested, with his father, for working in the Underground Railroad. His case went to the Supreme Court. He eventually plead guilty and was fined $1.00. He was married to Harriet Jane Edgar July 10 1851. He enlisted in the 97th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteers on Sept 5 1862. His rank was Major and was the surgeon for the regiment. This enlistment took him to the battle of Chickasaw Bayou, supporting General Sherman in his attempt to break down the Confederate defenses around Vicksburg, in Dec 1862. He became very ill and resigned on Feb 2 1863 and according to documents he left the Regiment at Vicksburg. He reside in Springfield Illinois from October 1863 to September 1870 when he moved to Chicago. He applied for his military pension on September 20 1889. His wife Harriet Jane Willard Died May 23 1890. Doctor Willard received from Robert Todd Lincoln the Photo of Abraham Lincoln in 1909 according to a foot note in the Lincoln Family Artifacts. This photo has hung on the wall in the Lincoln home for as long as Robert Todd Lincoln could remember as a child. Doctor Samuel Willard died February 9 1913 in Chicago Illinois. He was cremated at the Graceland Cemetery by his daughter Mary F Willard.

Doctor Samuel Willard and his wife Harriet Jane had six children , John Fredric Willard 1852, Sarah Willard 1857, Charles Dwight Willard 1860, Jane Willard 1862, Mary Frances Willard 1867, Alice Willard 1870.

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