William F. Donovan

William Franklin Donovan

Sketch of Nashville Fight
Kendall County Record, February 28, 1906.

It was the morning of the third day of the fight at Nashville. The enemy had advanced his lines during the night. A determined assault all along the lines was being made. A masked battery was especially doing a good deal of damage to our left. Twice during the forenoon three regiments of Indiana and two of Illinois white troops were repulsed. The battery was very ably defended. More so from the fact that a brick house a short distance in the rear of it was filled with sharpshooters. They were very vigilant and killed and wounded many of our officers. Two aides of the Commanding General, Thomas, were killed in the forenoon carrying orders to the left. About two o'clock that afternoon the general called two young offices to his side and told them to tell General Shafter in command of the colored troops, to advance his command immediately and capture that battery at all hazard. The officer from Tennessee was badly wounded before he had gone one mile to the left. General Shafter was about two and a half miles from the center where General Thomas was. The young officer from Illinois succeeded in getting to Shafter and delivering the general's order.

Most nobly did the gallant son of Michigan obey the command. He told his troops what General Thomas wanted and "Remember Fort Pillow." The charge was grand; they captured the battery and turned the guns on the retreating foe who fell back. The general saw the advantage and ordered a charge all along the line.  At first the enemy wavered, then broke, retreating in great disorder which finally became a rout. Achieving one the most complete victories of the war, "The Rock of Chickamauga" became the "Hero of Nashville."

No officer along the line did more than the man from Michigan (General Shafter), more than half his troops receiving their baptism of fire for the first time, and praise all along the line. The colored troops did nobly.

The officer who was wounded in attempting to reach the left was the gallant Jim Brownlow son of the fighting parson and Governor of Tennessee. The other was William F. Donovan, candidate for Sheriff of Kendall County.

Obituary
Old Soldier Succumbs
Major William F. Donovan Answers Call of Taps. Ill But Few Days. Had Been Active Republican
Kendall County Record, August 14, 1918.

Major William F. Donovan died at his home on the north side Sunday afternoon, the result of a stroke of paralysis which attacked him Wednesday. The Major was well known in Yorkville and Big Grove Township where he had lived for many years. His friends were many and he will be missed on the streets where he greeted everyone so gentlemanly and cordially. He was in the Record office Tuesday afternoon and complained of the heat but otherwise seemed in good health. His illness came as a surprise but there seemed little hope after the final blow fell. His son Fred was here on a vacation at the time and this was fortunate since Mrs. Donovan was in rather poor health at the time.

The Major was a veteran of the Civil War, a private in Company B, 10th IL CAV and later an officer in Company F, 101st U.S. Colored Infantry. After the war he settled in Newark where he lived for many years and worked at his trade as a farrier. He was a Republican and always interested in politics. He held several appointive offices in Springfield and had many friends among the prominent men of the state. He has also worked in local campaigns.

The funeral was held this afternoon from the late home. Interment will be in the Newark-Millington Cemetery.

William Franklin Donovan was born September 1, 1839 at VanDunnville, Massachusetts, the eldest son of ten children of Mr. and Mrs. William Patrick Donovan. At the first call for volunteers in 1861 he enlisted August 17, as a private in Company B, 10th IL CAV. He was discharged from this company January 1, 1863 to accept a promotion to a capacity in Company F, 101st U. S. Colored Infantry where he served until he was mustered out March 26, 1866. He was wounded in the hand during the battle of Nashville while serving as staff officer for General George H. Thomas. At the close of the war he was connected with the quartermaster's department where he was breveted a Major. In this work he was involved in the establishment of National Cemeteries in Tennessee.

After his active life in that line he came to Newark where he made his home for seventeen years. He was married to Anna Gunsul, August 9, 1883, and moved to Yorkville sixteen years ago where they have since lived. Surviving are the widow and son Fred, of Glen Ellyn, two step-daughters, Mrs. George Ackley of Millbrook and Mrs. Thomas Johnson of Newark; a brother, C. T. Donovan of Woodstock, Illinois; two sisters, Mrs. William A. March of Sterling, Illinois and Mrs. Emil Obland of Sioux City, Iowa. Two of his brothers, Michael and Timothy were killed in the Civil War.



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