Search billions of records on

CLEMENT  Genealogy -
William CLEMENT (d. 1760) of Amelia County, Virginia - A Study of His Descendants

The Hillsman House
by W. R. Turner
Transcript by Bushy Hartman, 25 March 2001, posted here by permission

Bible Records
Census Records
Contact Us
Document Index
Guest Book
Mail List
Search This Site

In Amelia County, Virginia, near the junction of Nottoway and Prince Edward Counties, situated on a pleasing elevation overlooking Sayler's Creek, from which the last major battle of the War Between the States derives its name, stands the Hillsman House.

This old house, while small and severe in its lines, is an excellent example of early colonial architecture, not unlike many homes in Williamsburg.

Typically colonial, with its dormer windows and story and a half, it was built with hand hewn timbers throughout, and put together with wooden pegs and hand wrought nails. Another interesting feature besides the hand sawed beaded weatherboarding is shown in the lower interior walls between the plastering and siding which is composed of brick noggin and daubed with clay. This was probably done for warmth and also to save making so many nails, bricks being cheaper to manufacture than lathing nails.

The gutters under the eaves were made of heart pine troughs, and fastened to the house with handmade iron holders. One of the most unique features that the architects discovered in the restoration, and one that they said they had never seen before, was wood flashing. This was used in the place of a metal structure. Metal in those days was evidently hard to obtain.

From the best information available, the house was built some time before the Revolutionary War, probably about 1750 or 1760, on a tract of fourteen hundred acres, by Moses Overton I, who married Elizabeth Carlton.

It was quite an undertaking in those days to build a house, and the Hillsman House was no exception. It must have taken several years in its construction, as each piece of timber had to be hewed out by hand, numbered and then put in place, and the nails made in the blacksmith shop. The large nails that fastened the weatherboarding could be made much faster than the lathing nails which were not much bigger than large tacks, a tedious task to make enough to lathe a house.

Not much is known concerning the Hillsman House or its occupants during the Revolutionary War, although Tarleton in his famous raid to Bedford passed nearby. Later on, during the War of 1812, its owner served his country well, for Moses Overton I had a son, Moses Overton, Jr. who fought with distinction during the second war with Great Britain, and came home a captain. He died in 1847, and is buried in the graveyard near the house. Captain Moses Overton married the widow Booker, nee Clements, in 1798. He lived the life of the typical Virginia planter of his day, was very fond of following the hounds and kept a find pack.

Near the fireplace in what must have been his bedroom, there is a quaint built-in cupboard in which he is said to have kept the bread for his dogs. Another small cubby hole in the wall above the mantel was used for his pipes and tobacco.

Captain Overton's daughter, Martha, married John Albert Hillsman. Their son, James Moses Hillsman, who married Lucy Blanton in 1858, was living in the house at the outbreak of the War Between the States. James Hillsman early enlisted in the war, in Company H, Amelia County Minute Man 44th Virginia Regiment, was later made a captain and still later captured. He was wounded three times during the course of the war, and was in prison at the time of the Battle of Sayler's Creek, also though his family, with his mother, were living in the house at the time of the engagement.

It is during this time that the Hillsman House lays claim to fame, for it overlooked the most disastrous battle of the entire war for the Confederates. The result of this battle made Appomattox inevitable. It was here that General Lee lost nearly half his army. Here also, were captured more men with terms than in any other battle in American history.

Counting the 1700 men lost in General Gordon's Engagement, twelve Confederate generals including Generals Ewell, Dubose, Corse, Hunton, Kershaw, and Custis Lee, were captured and General Lee's loss was nearly eight thousand men in killed, wounded and prisoners taken.

The House was also used as a Federal Hospital as evidenced by the bloodstains still visible on its floors. An interesting event of the battle was the capture of nine Confederate soldiers in a pit under the house.

It is fitting, therefore, that this area should be included in the National Battlefield Park System along with Appomattox. Thanks to a small appropriation of fifteen hundred dollars made available to the Legislature of Virginia to purchase the land on the Sayler's Creek Battlefield and the generosity of the Counties of Amelia, Nottoway and Prince Edward in matching this with a like amount, the purchase by the State of the house, together with ten acres and the restoration of the house, has been made possible.

Marna L. Clemons

(858) 486-6099

Created December 2000
Last Revision -
Wednesday, 04-Jan-2017 00:46:35 MST

Copyright © 2000-2017, Marna L. Clemons
All rights reserved.