Biography - Smith Denman

SMITH DENMAN. The mercantile trade has long been one of the leading features of our country and in this line is to be found in Nokomis a thoroughly representative house controlled by Mr. Smith Denman, who is regarded as an upright and energetic man of business, respected alike in business and social circles. He is a native of the Sucker Slate, born near Bloomington, in McLean County, March 27, 1841, and is a son of Smith and Elizabeth (Dixon) Denman, the father of English ancestry but of New Jersey nativity, and the mother of English-Scotch ancestry but a native of Virginia. Both families figured in the history of the country far back in old Colonial da3 - s, and an uncle of our subject (his mother's brother) fought with valor in the Black Hawk War.
Smith Denman, Sr., was a pioneer of Illinois, having settled on the farm near Bloomington, in McLean County, in 1829, and died there in 1875, having spent nearly half a century in the same place. On this farm our subject was born. He passed his boyhood days in assisting his father on the farm during the summer months and during the winter seasons in the school room. When the black cloud of war began to hover darkly over the nation, our subject was filled with a patriotic desire to fight for the Old Flag, and although but a boy in years, he possessed the courage and determination of a man. On the 3d of September, 1861, he enlisted in Company B, Fifty-second Illinois Infantry, as a private, and after spending a short time in Chicago, where his regiment was organized, his command was ordered to St. Louis. From there he went to St. Joseph, Mo., where his regiment was divided up to do guard duty, his company being sent to Stewartsville, in De Kalb County, where he was on guard duty during the winter of 1861-62.
In the latter part of February the regiment was called together and ordered to proceed to Cairo. When within about five miles of Quincy, it was found that the railroads and bridges had been destroyed, and all communication had been cut off. As a consequence, they were obliged to make their way on foot, Mr. Denman and a comrade walking the entire distance in their stocking feet, with snow and slush up to their knees. Finally, crossing the river on the ice, they entered the city of Quincy with their shoes swung across their shoulders. Strange as it may seem, their feet were not frozen. In fact, Mr. Denman said in relating this little incident: "They were not even cold. After all the regiment had reached the latter city they received orders to remove at once to Cairo, where they arrived about the 1st of March, 1862. From there they went to Ft. Holt, Ky., and were in camp there for about a month, when orders came to proceed to Ft. Donelson. They arrived there, however, after the surrender of the fort.
Our subject then assisted in removing the prisoners to Springfield, Ill., and was retained there for some time to guard them. After this, he and his regiment were ordered to join the forces being centered at Shiloh, and participated in that most bloody battle. That was a terrible baptism of fire to the young soldier, as he saw his comrades falling upon every side, but he never wavered. "On, on, to do or die!" was his watchword. His regiment lost one-half of its men in killed, wounded and missing. After this came the memorable siege of Corinth, where we again find our heroic soldier in the heat of battle. But he, too, was doomed to soon fall pierced by a Confederate bullet, and on the afternoon of the first day's fighting he was lying helpless and bleeding on the battlefield, having been struck in the left leg just above the ankle, the bone being shattered. He was taken to the field hospital, where his wound was dressed, and then, with others, he was taken to a hotel that had been turned into a hospital. It was not long before the shells of the enemy were flying in and around the house and it became necessary for the wounded soldiers to be again removed to a place of safety. They were soon transported lo Columbus, Ky., thence to Mound City, Ill., where our subject was placed in a hospital and suffered untold agony for a long time. He was compelled to remain there until January 23, 1863, on which date he was discharged for disability. He felt that he had done his duty to his country, carrying a scar that would ever remind him of his war record, and returned to his home near Bloomington.
Our subject was engaged in farming up to 1872, when he removed to Nokomis and embarked in general merchandising, which he has conducted with marked success since. He has built up one of the finest business houses in this town and carries a choice stock of goods. Mr. Denman is a prominent Grand Army man, having been one of; the charter members and one of the first officers of Cottingham Post No. 236, of Nokomis, and at three different times he has been its Commander, the last time in 1891. In politics, he is a stanch Republican and true to its every principle. In other words, he says he votes as he fought. As yet, he has never allowed his name to be connected with any political office. He was married in September, 1865, to Miss Nettie A. Lawrence, a native of the State of Ohio; they have no children.

Extracted 10 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 402-403.

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