Elias was born July 2, 1819 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. During the Mexican-American War, 27-year-old Elias enrolled in Captain James Nayle's Company B, First Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers from December 15, 1846 through July 27, 1848pretty much through the entire duration of the war. Elias was a private until February 7, 1847, when he was promoted to the rank of corporal. While there are no known photos of Elias, we do know what he looked like from his military and pension records. Elias stood 5 feet 6 inches tall, had a light complexion, gray eyes and sandy colored hair. This description is almost identical with that of his father.
Unlike many folks of the day who could neither read nor write, Elias was educated and literate, and he kept a diary during his military term of service. It is reproduced at the end of this section in its entirety. A copy of the first page of the original handwritten diary is shown below. The Descendants of Mexican-American War Veterans published this diary in their Fall/Winter 1997 edition of the Mexican War Journal and they supplied me with much of the detailed information which appears in the footnotes.
Elias was a printer by trade while in Pennsylvania and, after removing to Iowa, became a farmer. On April 4, 1849 in Middletown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, he married Mary Williamson. Mary, daughter of George Williamson and Elizabeth (Betsy) Montgomery, was born August 27, 1820 in Halifax, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Prior to marrying Elias, Mary had been married to a fellow whose last name was Shannon, by whom she had a son, Ellis, born June 4, 1844. Mr. Shannon apparently died sometime after this date and before the 1849 date of Mary's marriage to Elias.
Elias and Mary had 8 children, all born in Pennsylvania, only 3 of whom lived to adulthood. Interestingly, some of the boys were named after soldiers Elias served with during the war. His first son, Winfield Scott Hiney, was clearly named after the commanding General of the American forces, General Winfield Scott. Worth Hiney was named after General William J. Worth, whom Ft. Worth, Texas is also named after. William Henry was possibly named after Colonel William F. Harney. The source of Andrew McCullough's name is unknown, but the next son, George, was undoubtedly named for Elias's father. Elizabeth was named from Mary Williamson Hiney's mother and Mary (Jennie) named after Mary herself. No one has any idea who Great Grandpa Kirk Hiney was named after.
Elias and Mary loaded up their family, horses and wagons and moved to Minburn, Dallas County, Iowa shortly after Kirk's birth in 1863, probably to avoid the Civil War which was coming a bit too close to their home in Pennsylvania. It's also possible that Elias received a bounty land grant for his service in the war and, having seen quite a bit of the country during his travels as a soldier, decided to move the family west and claim land there.
Elias died of a heart attack while walking home from a Christmas play on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1879 in Minburn. He was 60 years old. Mary outlived Elias by many years, dying at age 89 on July 30, 1910 in Minburn. Elias and Mary, along with their daughter Jennie, are buried in a small, private cemetery called Garoutte cemetery on farmland near Minburn.
Elias Hiney's Honorable Discharge
Appraiser's Bill. Elias Hiney died intestate (without a will), so his estate needed to be probated. This Bill shows the inventory of his estate. Some of the items mentioned in it are horses, cows, hogs, pigs, wagon, sausage grinder & stuffer, 2 rocking chairs, a churn, milk crocks, corn plow, wheel barrow, and 700 bushels of corn.
Mary (Williamson) Hiney's Death Certificate. She died of Apoplexy, or stroke.
The Mexican-American War & Elias Hiney's Diary
Elias Hiney served with Company B, 1st Pennsylvania Regiment Washington Artillery.
A new uniformed militia company, the Independent Blues, was formed in 1840 and not long afterward renamed the Pottsville Blues. In 1842 the name changed again to the Washington Artillery.
Captain James Nagle and the company offered their services to President Polk as part of the 1st Schuylkill County Volunteer Regi-ment, under Colonel Francis M. Wynkoop, immediately after the 13 May declaration of war became known. They were accepted instead, on 30 November 1846, to be a part of the 1st Regiment from Pennsylvania.
Departing from Pottsville on a snowy 5 December, the Artillerists rendezvoused in Pittsburgh and were mustered into federal service on 15 December by First Lieutenant Horace B. Field of the 3rd U.S. Artillery.
The artillerists participated in the siege of Vera Cruz, the battles of Cerro Gordo, La Hoya and Huamantla, and performed garrison duty at Perote and finally near Mexico City.
Returning home, the company arrived in Philadelphia on 24 July 1848 and was mustered out there on 27 July by Captain George Taylor of the 3rd U.S. Artillery. The men returned to Pottsville on 5 August for a round of celebrations they would never forget.
A total of 99 men served in the company during the war. Of these, three were recruits who joined the company in Mexico. Thirteen men deserted. One battle casualty was suffered, the soldier being killed. This was one of the seventeen deaths endured by the Artillery. A total of seventeen men also received discharges before their term of service was ended.
The Descendants of Mexican War Veterans published this diary in their Fall/Winter, 1997 edition of the Mexican War Journal and they supplied the author of this genealogy with much of the detailed information which appears in the red notes.
We left Pittsburgh on Monday the 21 of December, 1846 at 11 o'clock on the Steam Boat Messenger for New Orleans. There were thousands of spectators. We [are] the 2[nd] company in the regiment letter B. Wynehook [Francis M. Wynkoop, 28, Colonel, commanding] elected by 4 of majority. Hard getting along on account of the ice on the Ohio River. The day delightful, the country generally mountainous.
22 - Nothing of importance occurred today.
23 - Early this morning we arrived in Cincinnati to get our engine fixed. This morning called on guard to stand twenty four hours.
24 - We arrived in Louisville, Kentucky. This is a handsome place. This is as pretty a city as I ever saw. The country generally level. We marched through the city. Albany is a pretty town situated on the Illinois side.
25 - This is Christmas morning. This morning there is a visible change in the weather, the climate. We can set out on the deck. Came to the mouth of the Mississippi River just at sunset. The country delightful, the weather delightful as in May.
26 - This morning we came to a beautiful place called Memphis, as handsome a place as one would wish to see.
27 - This is Sabbath morning. This morning we were all on shore and saw how the cane grows. This is the State of Louisiana. We stopped to wood with a planter and saw how the slaves are used. There were 80 of them here owned by one man.
28 - Today we passed Placimin Paris [probably the town of Plaquemine]. This lies on the right of going down the river. This is or may be called a Paradise indeed. Arrived at New Orleans about 11 o'clock.
29 - This day we came as far as the battle ground of General Jackson [Chalmette, where the Battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815] and struck our tents. I saw the tree that Packingham [Packingham was the British general defeated by Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans] died under. This is about 5 miles below Orleans. This evening I was very unlucky. There was a party of us went up to town and when we got as far as the beginning of the city, we broke down and I was thrown across the carriage and sprained my leg so that I was not able to get to the ground for a day and will not be fit for duty for a week. The soldiers are all very kind.
There are plenty of oranges growing here and the roses are in full bloom. There are peas plenty and salad just ripe. It is or seems so strange to find such a sudden change from the dreary snows of winter as it is in Pennsylvania, and then to the warm sun of the South. Here it is just as warm at times as it is in May.
January 1, 1847 - This day I got to the city and stayed for 2 days. New Orleans is indeed a great city. Here we can see all kinds of vessels from all parts of the world and all kinds of beings, nations and tongues. It is a very wicked place. We, however, are not much better for we have two general parades on Sabbath. This is something I do not like. There is now on this ground 1,000 soldiers. It makes a fine show when we all turn out, and in the course of time there will be another regiment here.
We left the battleground on Friday, 16 of January, 1947. On the 17 we sailed as far as the Beleis [probably the town of Buras] four miles above the north of the Gulf. Here we laid 18 and 19 awaiting for the fog to clear away and a breeze to take us out to sea. The boat that towed us out to the mouth of the Gulf blowed up on the next day and 40 lives lost. There are three vessels chartered to take us, the Oxnard, Russel Gluver and Statesman. On the 20 we crossed the bar. We nearly all got seasick.
23 - We landed at the Brazos[Brazos, Santiago] near at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Here we anchored till the 25. We had on our ship 300 soldiers, 150 cords of wood, and water sufficient for 3 months.
We landed within one mile of the Island of Labor [he means Lobos Island] on Friday the 29 of January and the first 3 companies here. Here I spent the Sabbath on this island looking at nature's works. There is growing here corkwood, the coconut lemon. Lizards and scorpions plenty. Fish and shells, plenty of all kinds. The weather very hot and dry.
On the second of February we came to the island and encamped and cut down the wood. The island is about one and a half mile round.
On the 4 of February there was a wreck of one vessel of the Louisiana regiment, about 18 miles above this, and the Mexicans came to take the men prisoners, but before they got them off, there was a sufficient force sent from this place with the war sloop St. Mary. She went to their assistance and gave them one shot and then got all off the vessel and sent a bombshell into the ship and set her on fire so the Mexicans could get nothing from our vessel. The Mounted riflemen on their road here lost 450 horses. Up to the 10 of February there was 4 deaths in all our regiment.
Sunday 14 February - Took 3 Mexicans prisoners supposed to be spies, were put in irons. The same night the camp was put in alarm by Colonel Butler's [Colonel Pierce Butler, who was doomed to die at the Battle of Churubusco] regiment South Carolinians who fired off a few muskets. It was supposed to be the enemy.
21 - General Scott [General Winfield Scott, the commanding General of the American Army] arrived. Fired a salute of 15 guns from the Man of War and the same from the island. Washington's birthday we celebrated by a jollification and firing of cannon.
General Scott leading the troops
25 - Embarked on board ship Oxnard.
28 - Were inspected by General Scott's Aide de Camp.
March 3 - Sailed from Vera Cruz.
5 - Cast anchor 20 miles below Vera Cruz. Weather pleasant.
9 - Landed on shore by the Frigate Potomac 8 o'clock tonight. 12 o'clock alarmed by Picket Guard and Mexicans who get intermixed and caused some sharp firing. Two of our men wounded.
10 - Took up our line of march and was in action in a very short time. Mexicans threw bombs and ball with great precision. Though some of us was hurt, we were drawn under the fire of the castle [Castillo San Juan D'Ulloa, which guards the entrance to the harbor of Vera Cruz] by the Lancers, who retreated and eventually led us into the Chaparral where there was a large party of Mexicans lying in ambush near an old cemetery or castle, who fired into us pretty sharp. None hurt though we killed 3 Mexicans at this part of the action. We took the cemetery and few hundred guards. Further on took the magazine with a quantity of ammunition. The main hill or point was taken by our regiment and the Tennessee regiment. This was a hard night. Threw up entrenchments
On the morning of the 11th was attacked by Lancers and musketry supposed to be 2 thousand strong. Killed several, wounded do not know how many Mexicans. Supposed 8 killed, several wounded.
12 & 13 - Nothing except occasional firing.
14 - Still nothing of importance occurred, only occasional firing from the city and castle. This night we laid in ambush awaiting for the enemy to pop along. There was 200 barrels of wine taken from the Mexicans.
15 - Monday. Nothing of importance today except firing from the castle which done but little injury.
16 - Nothing but constant firing and a small skirmish with a few hundred Mexicans. This night we 8 companies marched out expecting a force, as there was a spy taken and how his plan hid in a cane. The way he intended to take the force into the city to get some artillery.
Wednesday 17 - Still nothing of importance. The reason is of the North Winds.
18 - Today one of our men died in the hospital by the name of Lisht. [Pvt. Michael Lusht, age 37. Official records give date of death as March 17, 1847.] Received a letter from home.
19 - Today there is much firing from the city, it being to prevent us from building our batteries.
20 - Saturday. Last night we were led within 600 yards of the city to throw up entrenchments to place our batteries on, and in coming out at 4 o'clock in the morning we lost our way and came out within 50 yards of the city, but fortunately were not detected by the watchman of the city. Worth's division being plain on the east side and them firing on them saved us. 17 men killed off Worth's [General William J. Worth, for whom the city of Fort Worth, Texas is named] yesterday.
Sunday 21st - Still fire from city and castle to prevent us from planting our batteries though they can't win, as we work night and day. Things nearly ready.
22 - About 5 o'clock Genl. Worth commenced firing on the city. Two privates and one officer killed. Genl. very sick. Kept up a strong fire.
23 - Heavy firing from the city and battery.
24 - Our battery nearly completed. Discovered fire into us strong which we return with doubled effect. Commenced at 10 o'clock a.m. We lay about 1 mile back of our battery. Saw the fire open from both sides, 4 killed, 1 wounded.
25 - An attack from the rear of about 3,000 Mexicans. Drove them back. This night, hard duty lay in our trench at the Battery Called to arms. There was 6 killed. An attack made on Twiggs [General David Twiggs] by the Lancers.
26 - This morning flag of truce sent in by Mexicans. No firing done on either side. Still remain in our trenches to guard Battery.
27 - Cease hostilities. City and castle surrender.
28 - Sunday the flag of truce planted in the ranch. Still stationed in the trenches.
Sunday 18 - We were led out to capture the Batteries of the pass called Cerro-Gordo. This was a wonderful place. Our company taken with the Tennesseans to fill up their regiment. Moved through the Chaparral close to the Batteries. When the enemy opened a heavy fire on us which made great havoc in our ranks and the loss of many lives. In all 434 killed and as many wounded. Sharp shooting with grape and canister and about 1,500 musketry here. Santa Anna's carriage was captured with 60,000 dollars and fineries. [Among Santa Anna's personal baggage was his spare wooden leg, which was captured by the Illinois volunteers.]
On the 20 left the Bridge and such a sight I never wish to see again. Along the read all Mexicans killed by the Cavalry as they popped along and also the horses. Col. Harney [Colonel William F. Harney] being in pursuit of Santa Anna.
Arrive at Jalapa on the 21 and encamped 3 miles the other side. A splendid place and good water and a sight of the mountain covered with perpetual snow.
On the 4 of May one of our men died called Greaf. [Pvt. Henry Graeff, 25. Official records give his date of death as May 3, 1847.] Received a letter dated March 15 from home. The wet season commenced on the last of April.
6 of May - The Tennesseans left for home. Many dying daily. Took up our line of march and arrived at the castle [the castle or prison of Perote] on 8 of May. Here we were Garrisoned. A splendid place, this covers 20 acres of ground. This castle contained 53,552 stand of arms and mounts 96 cannon and four 22 inch mortars. [illegible] went to the pass at night. Arrived at 3 o'clock in the morning of 20th June, this being Sunday. When our regiment was fired on here, Captain Walker [Captain Samuel Walker of the Mounted Rifles] made a charge. They had a fence built across the road. We, however, soon heard that Cadwallader's [Brig. General George Cadwalader] train was coming. When we followed in the pass numbers of Mexicans killed. We had some killed and two officers wounded fatally. Here it was M. Steiver had his horse shot (from) under him.
July - This month we average 12 to 14 deaths in the castle. Buried ridiculous. [There were so many deaths, there was no time for proper burial and the dead were probably buried hurriedly in shallow graves with only a blanket for a shroud, which no doubt offended Elias's Christian sensibilities.]
Left on the 23 of August to Jalapa to met Major Laley's [Major Folliot T. Lally] train. Returned on Sunday 29. Lost one man.
Left the castle on the 6 of October for Puebla. Came as far as Huamantla. Here we had a smart fight with 5,000 Lancers and lost Captain Walker and 6 of his men (and) one of the Georgians. This occurred the 9 of October, 1847.
Arrived at Puebla on the 12 with but little opposition. 15 of Company K killed and several wounded. The Mexicans firing from their housetops. Here we got quarters in a church. This is a splendid city [with] 91 churches and 2000 peasants. The city contains 80,000 inhabitants.
On the 19 of October left for Atalixco. This place was bombarded by us. Returned again to the castle in safety again on the 29 of October, 1847. From the 8 of May to the 8 of September the number of deaths in the castle was 516.
On Sunday 31 October left the castle for Vera Cruz. Returned on the 27 November and left the castle on the 28 for Puebla and arrived on the 3 of December. Nothing of importance occurred except some of our men got their throats cut along the way. Left Puebla on the 4 of December. Arrived at the City of Mexico on the 8. Remained here until the 19 of December. Then marched to San Angelo [San Angel, a Mexico City suburb] 8 miles from the city. Christmas dinner consisted of hogs, bread and cabbage.
On the 3 of January, 1848 lost one of our men called William Merkle [the company roster lists a Mathew Merkel, but not a William] and on the 6 of the same month another killed by the Mexicans called T. Douhtry. [Pvt. John Douty is shown in the official records as being killed at San Angel, Jan. 6, 1847.] Received a letter from Harrisburg on the 26 of January from G. Hiney. [George Hiney, father of Elias.] Received a letter from home on the 3 of February. Treaty of Peace [the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed Feb. 2, 1847] on Thursday, February 3, 1848. William Merkle found who was lost in January found February 13. General review on the 12 February.
22 February - Spent in San Angelo.
March 6 - Seven of our companies left for Vera Cruz, Company A, D, E, F, H, I, K. On the 15 went with a party to Contraras. [Probably Mixcoac, a Mexico City suburb.] Was over at a place called Molina del Rey and at Misquan. On Friday 21 April General Worth and several others took dinner at the Celow Church. Here I was on guard, and Sunday 30 April, 1848 were inspected. The Mexicans mode of keeping Good Friday and of funerals, etc.
Grand review took place on the 1st of May, 1848 by General Patterson. [Major General Robert Patterson.] Went to the City of Mexico on 21 in company with J. Swan. Took a room at the National Theatre Hotel. Returned on 25. Dutton and Hare reprieved.
Went on the 27 of May to San Augustine, a distance of 8 miles from our camp. Left San Angelo May 30, 1848 for Vera Cruz, there being five regiments from New York, Ist Pa., 2nd Pa., S. Carolinians and Mass., 1 Ohio, 1 Indiana arrived at Encero on the 10 of June.
Left on the 15 and arrived at Vera Cruz on the 18 and set sail the same day on the schooner Sarah Churchman and arrived at New Orleans the 1st of July. Set out the same evening on board the steamer Chalmeto.
4 of July Passed the mouth of the Arkansas River on the Mississippi River. Rob. F. Walter [Cpl. Robert F. Walter, age 26, died near Cincinnati, July 10, 1848] died on the 10 of July, 1848 on the Ohio River and another in about 3 hours after, and a messmate of mine by the name of G. V. Whitcomb, [Pvt. William Whitcomb died near Cincinnati, July 10, 1848] and another in about 12 hours after by the name of P. Haas [Pvt. Peter Haas, age 26, died near Cincinnati, July 11, 1848] and one more on the 13 of July, H. Richards, [Pvt. Henry Richards, age 22, died near Wheeling, Ohio, July 4, 1848] all of Yellow Fever.
29 of July - Arrived at home after an absence from home one year and 8 months. Mustered out of the service of the United States on 27 of July, 1848.
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See lineage of Hiney Family
Read the Biography of Elias's father, George Hiney
Read the Biography of Elias's son, Kirk Hiney
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