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 for three years in the original 4th Michigan Infantry under Captain George Lumbard. He was 29 years old. 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 4th Michigan. But once the fighting began, the 4th 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. Archibald was a private when he was mustered out.
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 4th Michigan on July 25, 1864. He was promoted to Corporal on Sept. 2, 1864 and to Sgt. Major on May 10, 1865. 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.
Soon after Tommy enlisted his older brother Andrew, at age 30, also enlisted, perhaps to look after Tommy. He was a 1st Lt. when he mustered out. The picture of the officer may be of Andrew, while the picture on the banner is probably Tommy.
Tommy, Archibald and Andrew had a sister, Marion (1843-1899). She married another soldier in the 4th Michigan, John W. Hewitt, in 1864 soon after he returned from the war. John and Marion were the 2nd great grandparents of Patti Peairs, who has contributed family dates and the ranks of the brothers to this article.
These two pictures and Tommy's military rifle are now in possession of the Hillsdale County Historical Society.
Carol A. Lackey
(Thanks is given to Patti Peairs, whose third great uncle is Tommy Weir and third great grandfather is Thomas Weir, Sr. Patti supplied the information about the ranks of Tommy, Andrew and Archibald and helped us speculate about who is in the two pictures on this article.)