1st Asst. Surgeon Humphrey Hood

First Lieutenant and First Assistant Surgeon Humphrey HoodHumphrey Hood was born in 1823 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The second eldest of five children, Hood came to Illinois in 1851, not long after he graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.  His brother Benjamin later followed him to Litchfield, Illinois and the two men worked at the Hood & Brother drugstore.  Benjamin was also the town clerk and Litchfield editor the Union Monitor.

At 39 years old, Hood volunteered for service in the Union Army.  He served as First Asst. Surgeon of the 117th Illinois Infantry, Senior Surgeon of the Third U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, and Surgeon-In-Chief on the staff of General John E. Smith, District of West Tennessee from 1862 until he was discharged in April in 1866.

Letters from Hood to his brother, Benjamin, reveal Hood’s hopes and concerns as a member of the 117th Illinois Infantry of potential promotion and opportunities to move his family closer to his location. Hood especially expressed depression during the last year of the war in a letter to his brother in May 1864. Hood had remained rather optimistic throughout the Red River Campaign, though he feared that “everything seems to be going against us.”

Later that summer, Hood managed to return home on leave to see his wife, Matilda, and two children.  His daughter, Annie, was born soon after the leave.  When he returned to his position, he wrote another letter to his brother expressing his frustration with men who volunteered for service unfit, “On my return, I found my regiment augmented by some 200 recruits from Illinois. One half of my sick list if made up, from these recruits, of men who, according to their own statement, were not fit for the service at the time of enlistment.” Hood strongly believed that a man had integrity in turning down a job he was not able to do, and that a man is dishonorable if he chooses to attempt to fulfill a spot in which an able body could perform the job.

His wife fell ill during Hood’s enlistment and passed away on Jan. 2, 1867. He then married Abigail Torrey Paden and had two more children. Hood died on Feb. 20, 1903 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Litchfield, Illinois.