He was born in 1832/33 (18 (28 in 1861), 22 (28 in 1861), 23 (28 in 1861)). He was born in Derry, Ireland (22, 23).
When he enlisted, he was a bottler, and was living in Philadelphia (18, 22, 23).
When he enlisted, he was 5 feet 10 inches tall, and had a dark complexion, dark eyes, and dark hair (18, 22, 23).
He enlisted and was mustered into service as a private on 11 September 1861, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1, 18, 22, 23, 25). He was enlisted for three years, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Captain Sinex (22, 23). He was mustered in service by Captain Starr (22). He was in company D (1, 35 (sgt), 36 (sgt), 37 (sgt)).
He was promoted to third sergeant on 8 October 1861 (21, 35 (sgt at muster in)).
He fought at the Battle of Gettysburg (30). He was then a sergeant (30).
On 11 December 1863, he was promoted to first sergeant (6, 18 [16 Dec], 20 [26 Dec], 23 [26 Dec]).
On 15 December 1863, Joseph Sinex reported that Hamill had been appointed first sergeant, and his appointment could not be revoked (5). Since he refers to a general order, the problems seems not to have been with Hamill in particular; perhaps the general order required commanders not to make promotions, or not to make them in small companies.
He was relieved from duty in the brigade ambulance corps on 13 December 1863, by William H Chandler (7), but Colonel Gregory (commanding the brigade) revoked the brigade order on the same day (9), and he replaced Sergeant Chandler there on 15 December 1863 (8). On 30 December 1863, he was replaced by David Mansfield (10).
He reenlisted as a veteran volunteer on 26 December 1863, at Bealton, Virginia (1, 18, 25 [25 Dec 63]).
He returned to duty on 1 January 1864 (17).
He was in command of company D starting 8 January 1864, but received a sergeant's pay, because he could not be mustered in as a commissioned officer during the spring and summer campaigns (25).
On 4 July 1864, he received a commission from the Governor of Pennsylvania (dated 23 June 1864), and Eli Sellers asked that he be discharged to enable him to be mustered in as a commissioned officer (11). He was promoted to second lieutenant effective 16 December 1863 (1, 18, 25). He was commissioned on 26 July 1864 (25).
On 6 September 1864, he received a commission as first lieutenant from the Governor of Pennsylvania (dated 26 July 1864 ), and Eli Sellers asked that he be discharged to enable him to be mustered in as first lieutenant (12). He was mustered in as first lieutenant on 7 September 1864 (1, 16, 18, 19, 20, 23, 25 [8 Sep 64], 27).
He was arrested on 21 October 1864 for being drunk while he was in charge of a picket detail (13, 26, 28). Captain Stephen Rich, the Brigade officer in charge of the picket detail, found him drunk and reported him to Captain Sellers (commanding the 91st Pennsylvania) (26). His testimony was corroborated by Samuel Tipton (co.K, recently transferred from the 62nd Pennsylvania), and Charles K Willis (co.A) (26). Theodore Hope (E) later testified that when he relieved Hamill, Hamill appeared to have been drinking but was not drunk, was able to carry out his duty, and gave him a complete and accurate report of the details of the picket (26). The acting regimental adjutant, Howard Shipley, also testified that when Hamill reported to him, he did not appear "out of the way", and had a "good" reputation for sobriety (though he would not specify precisely what a good reputation for sobriety meant) (26).
He was charged with "Drunkenness on duty", with this specification (26):
"In this that the said 1st Lieut John L Hammil Co "D" 91st Regt Pa Vet Vols, while upon duty upon the picket line, in charge of the picket detail from his Regiment, was found drunk. All this on or about the 21st day of October 1864 near Peebles Farm Va"
On 8 November 1864, Sellers asked that Hamill be released from arrest, "believing the same thing will not occur again and that he will be prompt to perform his duty, as he always has been heretofore" (13, see also 25). Hamill later claimed that he was ordered to be released, but Tayman stopped the order at Brigade Headquarters, where he was Acting Assistant Adjutant General (25). Hamill claimed that he saw the order releasing him entered in the brigade Assistant Adjutant General's books, while Tayman was absent, but could not get a copy of it (25).
The trial began on 10 November 1864, and was held at Peebles Farm, Virginia (26, 31). Colonel Pearson, of the 155th Pennsylvania Infantry, served as his counsel during the court-martial (25). Hamill pled "not guilty" to the charge and specification (26).
He received the order on 15 December 1864, and left the regiment (25, 29).
After he arrived in Philadelphia, he sent a petition to Lincoln, signed by the regiment's officers and other friends of Hamill's, asking that his sentence be revoked and that he be restored to duty (25). He later claimed that Lincoln endorsed the petition favorably, and referred it to the Judge Advocate General, but after Lincoln's assassination, his request was not acted on (25).
On 11 February 1875, he wrote from Philadelphia to the Secretary of War, asking that his conviction be revoked and he be granted an honorable discharge (25). The court-martial file does not include any further information about his request.
1 Bates, Samuel Penniman. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1869-71. 5 volumes. 'Ninety-first regiment', volume 3, pages 186-233. (In the roster.)
3 Thomas F Walter. 'Personal recollections and experiences of an obscure soldier'. Grand Army Scout and Soldier's Mail at volume 3 issue 45 page 2.
4 special order 84, headquarters, 91st Pennsylvania Infantry, 24 September 1864
5 letter, Sinex to Marvin, 15 December 1863
6 special order 112, HQ 91st PA, 11 December 1863
7 special order 113, HQ 91st PA, 13 December 1863
8 special order 115, HQ 91st PA, 15 December 1863
9 special order [number illegible], HQ, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Corps, 13 December 1863
10 special order 123, HQ 91st PA, 30 December 1863
11 letter Sellers to [unnamed] Captain, 4 July 1864
12 letter, Sellers to Bennett, 6 September 1864
13 letter, Sellers to Bartlett, 8 November 1864
14 special order [unnumbered], HQ 91st PA, 9 September 1864
15 special order 86, HQ 91st PA, 27 September 1864
17 consolidated morning report, 91st PA, 1 January 1864 (Sergt Hammil)
18 Civil War Veterans' Card File, available at the Pennsylvania State Archives, searched 5 May 2004 (John Hamill)
19 company D, list of commissioned officers (John Hamill)
20 company D, list of non-commissioned officers (John Hamill [in "reorganization" list])
21 company D, list of non-commissioned officers (John Hamill)
22 company D, descriptive roll, sergeants, entry 3 (John Hamill)
23 company D, [second] descriptive roll, entry 96 (John Hamill)
24 court-martial record (John Hamill)
25 letter, John Hamill to Honorable W W Belknap, Secretary of War, 11 February 1875 [in the file with his court-martial transcript]
26 court-martial record, 10-11 November 1864 (John Hamill)
27 consolidated morning report, 91st PA, 9 September 1864 (Sergt Hamill)
28 consolidated morning report, 91st Pennsylvania, 22 October 1864 (Lt Hamill)
29 consolidated morning report, 91st Pennsylvania, 15 December 1864 (Lieut Hamill)
30 Pennsylvania Memorial, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (John Hamill)
31 National Archives Archival Research Catalog (accessed 24 July 2010) (M Hammeritle [sic])
32 death notification letter, John Hamill to Mary Ann Hallowell, in widow's pension certificate file, WC 83,392, 21 December 1862
33 widow's pension certificate file, National Archives and Records Administration, record group 15, certificate WC 34,233, Ellen Johnson, widow of Joseph Johnson (John Hamill)
34 abstract of widow's pension certificate file, National Archives and Records Administration, record group 15, widow's certificate 82,809, Ann Campbell widow of Samuel Steel (John Hamill)
35 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (John Hammel)
36 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (John Hamill)
37 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (John Hammill)