Rev. Ephraim J. Hart – A Biographical Sketch

E. J. Hart was a member of Company E, not Company F, of the 40th Illinois. This makes him an unusual choice for the first biographical sketch in The Civil War Journal of John Lance. Because he kept and published a journal about the experiences of the regiment, he is important to this journal. His journal was published in 1864 as the History of the Fortieth Illinois Infantry (volunteers).

His 200-page book is the most valuable source of information about what John Lance experienced since the two Companies shared many situations and events. A 2019 reprint of Hart’s book is now available in Kindle, hardbound and paperback editions at Amazon.

C.G. Richardson used Hart’s book extensively to write a very readable novel, Sergeant Tom’s War: A Tale of the Illinois 40th Volunteer Infantry which was published in 2011 and is also available at Amazon.

Ephraim Hart was born in 1841, the first known son of Dr. Daniel and Sarah Marshall Hart. Sarah died when he was nine or ten years old and his father remarried in 1853 when E.J. was 12. He apparently maintained a decent relationship with his stepmother, Margaret McLauglin Hart, as she remembered him in her will, written shortly before she died in 1892.

On August 10, 1861 in Camp Butler, Hart mustered into Company E. During his service, he participated in the major battles of Shiloh (April 6, 1862) and Missionary Ridge (November 25, 1863) and numerous lesser skirmishes.

On January 1, 1864, most of the Regiment re-enlisted as veterans, receiving a 30-day furlough and a re-enlistment bonus. Even though Hart was not one of the men who re-enlisted, he must have been well thought of as he was transferred from Company E to the Regimental Headquarters staff on February 8, 1864.

About two weeks after the Campaign for Atlanta began, Hart was near Dallas, Georgia on May 31 and was shot in the face, the bullet exiting his left cheek. He was sent to the rear and on August 9, 1864, he (having received a promotion to sergeant) and ten other men from Company E were discharged when their 3-year term of service expired. Hart saw the scar every time he looked in a mirror. He filed for a pension in 1892 which I plan to obtain on my next visit to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Hart’s younger brother, Cicero, joined Company M of the 5th Illinois Cavalry at the age of 16 in November, 1861. He was one of 21 men in the regiment who died at Helena, Arkansas in the two months following a confederate attack on a forage train. The official record does not give the cause of his death, but it is possible that he was one of six who suffered wounds in that attack. Cicero’s death was probably a major factor in E.J.’s decision not to re-enlist and possibly a factor in his decision to become a minister.

Three years after he left the army, he married Sarah Rosenberger in Clay County, Illinois. They had at least six children and three of them lived to adulthood. The six, as listed on the 1880 census, were Mettie (b 1870), Virgie (b 1871), Everest (b 1872), Edwin (b 1874), Claude (b 1877) and an unnamed daughter born in April, 1880. Virgie and Everest lived into the 20th century and each provided E.J. with three grandchildren; Claude died in 1898.

Ephraim, on the 1860 census, was listed as a 19-year old farmer living at home. He was also listed as a farmer on the army muster roll, however, in 1870 he was a minister which suggests that his fractured cheek did not prevent him from speaking well. He lived in Wayne and Coles counties in Illinois, but then moved to Wheeling, West Virginia in the 1880s where he was pastor of the First Christian Church. The published notice of his death stated that “At the time of his death, he was elder in the Second Christian Church on the Island [in Wheeling].”

His obituary states that “He was in his 55th year” when he died in October, 1899 at New Philadelphia, Tuscarwas County, Ohio (he apparently was pastor of a church in that city which is about 60 miles NW of Wheeling). However, the 1860, 1870, and 1880 census records indicate that he was born in late June or early July of 1841 which means he was actually 58 (in his 59th year).

He moved shortly before his death to New Philadelphia, but he was buried in Wheeling, West Virginia as was his wife, Sarah, in 1917.

When men mustered into the army during the civil war, a description was usually posted in a roll book. Here are the personal characteristics for Ephraim Hart when he mustered into Company E on August 10, 1861 (the same day John Lance mustered in):

Residence: Mt Erie, Wayne Co, IL / Age: 21 / Height: 5′ 7″ / Hair: Dark / Eyes: Blue / Complexion: Dark / Marital Status: Single / Occupation: Farmer / Nativity: Carroll Co, OH

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E.J Hart Tombstone
Rev. E. J. Hart Death Notice
E.J. Hart Civil War Medical Record

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