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John Davis Billings
Birth: Dec. 13, 1842
Canton
Norfolk County
Massachusetts, USA
Death: Aug. 28, 1933
Belmont
Middlesex County
Massachusetts, USA

Civil War Union Army soldier, Historian. He wrote two historical books, "The History of the Tenth Massachusetts Battery of the Light Artillery in the War of the Rebellion, Formerly of the Third Corps, and afterwards of Hancock's Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, 1862-1865" (1881), and "Hardtack and Coffee, The Unwritten Story of Army Life" (1887), that were based upon his experiences in the Civil War. Born in Canton, Massachusetts, a few miles outside Boston, he was trained as a mechanic in his father's workshop. Eighteen years old when the Civil War broke out in 1861, his father refused to let him go to war until the summer of 1862, when he was allowed to join the 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Artillery Battery. Joining as a Private, he was promoted to Corporal in 1864. Following his release from military duty in 1865, he taught school in several small towns around Boston, for 61 years, retiring finally in 1926. While teaching was his profession, the Civil War became his avocation. He joined several veteran's organizations after the end of the conflict, and in the 1870s began writing a comprehensive history of his unit, relying on his diary and several hundred letters that he had written to his parents during the war. The resulting book, "The History of the Tenth Massachusetts Battery" is considered one of the best sources of information about what life was like in the Army of the Potomac. In 1881, while vacationing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, he spent the evenings at his hotel with several other Union veterans telling a group of boys about the mundane details of military life. Realizing that there was no book about these minor details of life in the Army during the Civil War, he decided to write his own book on the subject. The subsequent work "Hardtack and Coffee" (1887), recorded the daily routine and common experience of the soldiers, often thought to be of no interest by the veterans themselves. Many historians consider this book one of the most important books written about the war, since it captured the routine and minor facts of daily life during the war, providing a detailed look of the ordinary soldier. "Hardtack and Coffee" proved to be a best seller and has been reprinted eight times, continuing to be one of the best books about the common soldier on that war. He died in Belmont, Massachusetts, at the age of ninety. The rank of Colonel on his grave marker is an honorary rank bestowed on him for his books and contributions to veterans after the war. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouses:
  Mary Billings (____ - 1882)
  Katherine Wight Billings (1878 - 1944)
 
Burial:
Canton Corner Cemetery
Canton
Norfolk County
Massachusetts, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Kit and Morgan Benson
Record added: Mar 25, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35131617
John Davis Billings
Added by: Kit and Morgan Benson
 
John Davis Billings
Added by: Chris and Susanne Eliasen
 
John Davis Billings
Added by: Chris and Susanne Eliasen
 
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