Future Confederate States Brigadier General Benjamin J. Hill of Tennessee Buys a Negro Slave Boy Named “Henry”
December 15, 1858-Dated Pre Civil War, Manuscript Slave Bill of Sale Document Signed, “Hamilton Neal,” for a Negro boy purchased by the then acting Tennessee State Senator and future Confederate States Brigadier General Benjamin Jefferson Hill, mentioned Twice by name, Fine.
This original Tennessee Slave Bill of Sale for a Negro boy servant purchased by the then acting State Senator and future Brigadier General Benjamin Jefferson Hill, 1 page, measuring about 8” x 5”, oblong octavo, written on light blue lined period wove paper, dated December 15, 1858. Before the Civil War, Hill was a merchant and served in the Tennessee Senate from 1855 to 1861. After the war, he was a merchant, lawyer and president of the McMinnville and Manchester Railroad. There is wear from use and a heavy vertical centerfold with paper reinforcement on the reverse fold and a small wear hole affecting two words at center. Overall, well written in dark brown ink and is easily readable. It reads, in full:
“For and in consideration of Eleven hundred dollars to me in hand paid the receipt where of is hereby acknowledged. I have this day Sold to B. J. Hill a Negro boy named Henry, aged about [15?] years the said boy I have a good title to and here by relinquish all claims or rights that I have to said boy and convey the same boy to B.J. Hill and warrant and defend the title to the same and warrant him to be sound in body and mind and a Slave for life. - (Signed) Hamilton Neal” - (Witnessed) “December 15th, 1858 - Wm. J. Jones”
Docket on the blank reverse side reads: “A Bill of Dale from Hamilton Neal to B J Hill for Boy Henry - Dec 5th 1858” An extremely rare Manuscript Slave Bill of Sale to the Future Confederate States Brigadier General Benjamin J. Hill.
BENJAMIN J. HILL (1825-1880). Born near McMinnville, Tenn. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was appointed colonel of the 5th Regiment, Provisional Army of Tennessee, which later became the 35th Tennessee Infantry. The regiment served in Cleburne's brigade, and Hill led it with distinction at Shiloh, in Bragg's Kentucky campaign, and in the battles of Murfreesboro, Chickamauga and Chattanooga.
At Chickamauga the gallant Colonel Hill won this high praise from Lieutenant General D. H. Hill, "The extraordinary merit of Colonel Hill of the 35th Tennessee came under my personal observation. This noble officer has been distinguished on many a hard fought field." At Missionary Ridge, Hill commanded the 35th and 48th Tennessee Regiments, and in late 1863, he was appointed provost marshal of the Army of Tennessee, and served in that capacity during the Atlanta campaign.
He distinguished himself in John Bell Hood's Tennessee campaign, and as a result was promoted to Brigadier General on Nov. 30, 1864. In the last months of the war he commanded a cavalry brigade under General Nathan Bedford Forrest, and participated in the campaign against Union General James H. Wilson.