Sgt. Major Tommy Weir - Civil War Veteran
The Weir family first came to Hillsdale from Scotland. Thomas Weir, Sr. was summoned to work by Cook and Ferris, at their Mill here in town. He was an Engineer and helped to convert the Mill from hydraulic to steam power. That Mill later became Stock’s Mill. The Weirs lived on Broad Street, just south of Barry Street. Thomas, Sr. was also appointed a Village Marshall in 1858.
Son Archibald Weir was a shoemaker when they first arrived in Hillsdale. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Archibald enlisted in the original 4thMichigan Infantry, under Captain George Lumbard. When they left Camp Williams, in Adrian, for Washington they were in full military dress. From Ohio to Pennsylvania, accolades were published regarding the fine dress and demeanor of the Michigan 4th. But once the fighting began, the Fourth Michigan became known as “the Bloody Fourth.” By June of 1864, when their terms of service expired, the Fourth had participated in over 40 engagements and suffered more than 190 killed and mortally wounded, plus over 200 who died from disease.
Thomas was too young to enlist when the War started. Tommy, as they called him, had been a “torch boy,” along with Charles French, in the old Baw Beese Company No. 2 Fire Department. At that time, Hillsdale had two fire departments, which competed against each other to put out fires. The torch boys got to ride in the parades, perched on top of the engine, with their uniforms of bright red jackets and white pants, holding up the stars and stripes. Tommy – and a lot of others - thought the army would be like that.
Tommy finally got to enlist in the re-organized Fourth Michigan in July of 1864. Soon after, older brother Andrew also enlisted in the same, perhaps to look out after Tommy. They marched down into Tennessee, where Tommy got very sick. He was sent home on extended furlough, but never got better. Thomas Weir, Sergeant Major of the 4th Michigan Infantry, age 20 years, died in Hillsdale, January 30, 1866, and was laid to rest in Oak Grove Cemetery, Hillsdale.
His framed picture and military rifle are now in possession of the Hillsdale County Historical Society.
Carol A. Lackey