George Hillyer (March 17, 1835 – October 2, 1927) was an American politician, serving as the 29th Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, as well as a state assemblyman and senator. He was also an officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
Hillyer was born in Athens, Georgia, one of eight children of Judge Junius Hillyer, a United States Congressman and solicitor of the U.S. Treasury. He graduated from Mercer University in 1854, studied law, and, starting in 1857, served two years in the Georgia General Assembly. He was a delegate to the 1860 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. He married Ellen Emily Cooley, and raised a family.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, he raised a Walton County company known as the "Hillyer Rifles" in the late spring of 1861. The men were mustered into the Confederate Army on June 13, with Hillyer elected as the captain of Company C of the 9th Georgia Volunteer Infantry. He and the regiment were sent by train to Virginia and assigned to the newly created brigade of George "Tige" Anderson in what became the Army of Northern Virginia. Hillyer saw extensive fighting at Fredericksburg (briefly commanding the regiment) and Gettysburg, where he fought at the famed "Wheatfield" on July 2, 1863. The 9th Georgia lost half of its 340 men in the fight, and Hillyer's company suffered considerable losses. With all the senior officers wounded or killed, Hillyer assumed command of the regiment for the rest of the Gettysburg Campaign, and wrote the official report of the 9th Georgia's service in the battle.
Hillyer resigned his captain's commission in November 1863 to become an auditor for the Western & Atlantic Railroad at the request of Governor Joseph E. Brown, who preferred a military man for the role as the railroad was the main supply route for General Joseph E. Johnston's Confederate army. Early in 1864, Hillyer organized the State Road Battalion (consisting mainly of railroad men) and he was placed in command of the defenses of the railroad with the rank of major. Seeing action against cavalry raiders during the Atlanta Campaign, Hillyer performed well, but the railroad eventually fell to the Union Army. He and his remaining men surrendered to Federal officers on May 10, 1865.
Starting in 1870, he served four years as a Democrat in the Georgia Senate. He served as the Georgia delegate to the United States Centennial Commission that planned and organized the country's Centennial celebrations and the International Exhibition of 1876. He was Judge of the Superior Courts of the Atlanta Circuit for several years before resigning.
In 1885 served one term as mayor of Atlanta, during which time he became an expert on municipal water services, publishing several related articles and serving on the Atlanta Water Commission for many years. For many years, he was on the board of trustees for Spelman Baptist Seminary, as well as Vice-Chairman for the Georgia Railroad Commission.
He died at the age of 92 and was buried in Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery.
My Gettysburg Battle Experiences (edited by Gregory A. Coco), 2005, Thomas Publications (Gettysburg, PA)
John B. Goodwin
|Mayor of Atlanta
January 1885 – January 1887
John Tyler Cooper