Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CILLEY, Joseph, soldier, born in Nottingham, New Hampshire, in 1735; died there, 25 August, 1799. His father, Capt. Joseph Cilley, was one of the first settlers of Nottingham in 1727. The opportunities for education were very slight, and he was self-taught, but acquired sufficient knowledge of the law to practise. He was one of the party that in December, 1774, dismantled the fort at Portsmouth. Immediately after the battle of Lexington he raised a company of volunteers and led them into Boston. In May, 1775, he was appointed major in Poor's regiment, and in April, 1777, was commissioned colonel of the 1st New Hampshire regiment, succeeding General Stark, and served as such until the close of the Revolutionary war. He commanded his regiment at Ticonderoga in July, 1777, was present at the engagement at Bemis Heights in September, 1777, at the battle of Monmouth in June, 1778, with Anthony Wayne at the storming of Stony Point, July, 1779, and in General Sullivan's expedition against the Indians in western New York. After the war he was appointed the first major general of the militia in 1786, and later served his state in various capacities. He was successively treasurer, vice-president, and president of the Society of the Cincinnati in New Hampshire. In politics he was a decided republican and a supporter of the administration of Thomas Jefferson. --His grandson, Joseph, United States senator, born in Nottingham, New Hampshire, 4 January, 1791: died there, 16 September, 1887, was educated at the Atkinson academy, and commissioned ensign in the 18th New Hampshire regiment. A year later, 12 March, 1812, he was appointed an ensign in the 11th United States infantry, and in 181.4 was promoted to lieutenant in the 21st infantry. He participated in the battles of Chippewa, Lundy's Lane, and Chrysler's Field. At Lundy's Lane his company led in the famous charge of Col. Miller's regiment on the British battery, where nearly half of his men were either killed, wounded, or missing. Lieutenant Cilley was wounded, and every officer in his company was either killed or wounded. He received the brevet of captain for gallantry on the field, and was retained in the army when it was placed on a peace footing, but resigned in July, 1816. Subsequently he held appointments in the New Hampshire militia, and was quartermaster in 1817, division inspector in 1821, and aide on the staff of Governor Benjamin Pierce in 1827. He was elected as a democrat to fill the vacancy in the United States senate caused by the resignation of Levi Woodbury, and served from 22 June, 1846, until 3 March, 1847. At the close of his term he retired to his farm in Nottingham, where he still resides (1886), the oldest living ex-senator.--Another grandson, Jonathan, lawyer, born in Nottingham, New Hampshire, 2 July, 1802; died in Bladensburg, Maryland, 24 February, 1838, was graduated at Bowdoin in 1825, numbering among his classmates Hawthorne and Longfellow. Subsequently he studied law with John Ruggles, United States senator from Maine. in Thom-aston. Almost immediately after his being admitted to the bar he entered political life, and from 1829 till 1831 edited the " Thomaston Register." In 1832 he was a presidential elector, and was elected as a democrat to the state legislature, and re-elected till 1837, becoming speaker in 1836 and the acknowledged leader of his party in the legislature. In 1837 he was elected as a Van Buren democrat to congress, serving from 4 September, 1837, till his death. The death of Mr. Cilley was the result of a duel with William J. Graves. a congressman from Kentucky. The affair originated in a speech delivered by Mr. Cilley in the house of representatives, in which he criticised a charge of corruption brought against some unmarried congressman in a letter published in the New York "Courier and Enquirer" over the signature of "A Spy in Washington," and approved in the editorial columns of that paper. The editor, General James Watson Webb, at once went to Washington and sent a challenge to Mr. Cilley by Mr. Graves; but the former declined to receive any hostile communication from Mr. Graves, on the ground that he had made no reflections on the personal character of General Webbo Mr. Graves himself then challenged Mr. Cilley, and the challenge was accepted. Rifles were the weapons used, and on the third fire Mro Cilley fell, shot through the body, and died in-stantiy. Mr. Graves was never re-elected to congress. A committee of seven members of the house was appointed to investigate the causes that led to Mr. Cilley's death and the circumstances connected therewith. The report was elaborate and comprehensive, and declared that Mr. Graves deserved "the decided censure of the house, and that he should be censured accordingly." See an article on Mr. Cilley in Nathaniel Hawthorne's works.--Greenleaf, son of Jonathan, naval officer, born in Thomaston, Maine, 27 October, 1829, was appointed midshipman in the navy and attached to the frigate "Cumberland," of the Mediterranean squadron, in 1843-'5. In August, 1847, he was promoted to passed midshipman, and spent some time at the United States naval academy, after which he served on the frigate "Raritan" in 1849-'50, on the coast survey in 1851-'2, and on various vessels of the Pacific squadron in 1852-'5. He was commissioned as lieutenant in September, 1855, and connected with the sloop "Saratoga" in 1856-'8, and subsequently served on various other vessels. In July, 1862, he was made lieutenant-commander, and during the civil war was in command of the " Unadilla," and later of the monitor "Catskill." At the close of the war he was retired and commissioned as commander. He now (1886) resides in Buenos Ayres.--Another son of Jonathan, Jonathan Prince, soldier, born in Thomaston, Maine, 29 December, 1835, was graduated at Bowdoin in 1858, studied law with A. P. Gould in Thomaston, and, after admission to the bar, settled in his native town. At the beginning of the civil war he enlisted 150 men for a light field-battery; but, that arm of the service not being required, he enlisted in the 1st Maine cavalry, and was commissioned captain. During the retreat of General Banks from the Shenandoah valley he was wounded and made prisoner at Middletown on 24 May, 1862. Subsequently he was promoted to be major, and assigned to duty as judge-advocate and examining officer at the central guardhouse in Washington, District of Columbia In 1863 he rejoined his regiment with his wound still unhealed, and during 1864 was made lieutenant colonel. He was placed in command of the regiment, and continued in this capacity until mustered out in 1865, when he received the brevet of brigadier-general for distinguished services at Five Forks, Farm-ville, and Appomattox Court-House. In his regiment, which was authorized to bear the names of three more battles upon its standards than any other regiment in the Army of the Potomac, General Cilley was "the first man that enlisted, the first man wounded, and nearly the last mustered out." After the war he resumed his profession in Rockland, Maine, and since has been a member of the state legislature, deputy collector of customs, adjutant-general of the state, and commissioner of the United States circuit court. He is a member of the Maine historical society, and, besides addresses and memorial orations, has published a genealogy of the " Cilley Family."
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