Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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McGILYERY, Freeman, soldier, born in Prospect, Maine, 27 October, 1823; died in Virginia, 2 September, 1864. He was born in humble circumstances, became a sailor, and before he had completed his twenty-first year was master of a vessel. On hearing of the beginning of the civil war, while he was in Rio Janeiro, he returned, after completing his business, to his native state, and raised a battery of artillery, which was first brought into action at Cedar Mountain, 9 August, 1862, where he was instrumental in preserving the left flank of the National army. He was subsequently engaged at Sulphur Springs, the second battle of Bull Run, Chantilly, and Antietam. He was promoted major 5 February, 1863, and assigned to the command of the 1st brigade of the volunteer artillery reserve of the Army of the Potomac. On 23 June, 1863, he was commissioned lieutenant-colonel, and at Gettysburg, by the rapid and destructive fire of his guns, repelled three infantry charges on General Daniel E. Sickles's position, which would otherwise have broken the National line. In the third assault he was driven from his position after the infantry had retreated; but by sacrificing one battery he was able to form a new line that, without infantry supports, filled a gap of 800 yards, through which the Confederates would otherwise have passed, cutting the National army in twain. He was promoted colonel of the Maine mounted artillery on 1 September, 1863, and in June, 1864, commanded the reserve artillery before Petersburg. In August he was appointed chief of artillery of the 10th army corps, and while serving in that capacity in the operations at Deep Bottom was shot in the finger. The urgency of his duties caused him to neglect the wound until an operation became necessary, and, while undergoing it, he died from the effects of chloroform.
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