George I. Waterman
Lieutenant, Co B; Captain, Co F

George Isham Waterman was born on December 22, 1834 in Providence, Rhode Island. His father Thomas T. Waterman was a Congregational minister. Waterman graduated from the Congregationalist Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin in 1856. He then taught for a year at Maquoketa Academy at Maquoketa, Iowa. Then from 1857 to 1861 he was a deputy clerk of the U. S. Circuit and District Courts in Chicago.

Waterman enrolled in the Fifty-First Illinois in the autumn of 1861. He initially was mustered in as the second lieutenant of Company B, under Captain Isaac Gardner. Henry Hall was first lieutenant of the company. Waterman and Hall were fast friends until death parted them.

On June 5, 1862, Waterman went on detached service as aide-de-camp of Brigadier General James Morgan, who commanded the Second Brigade of Eleazar Paine's Division. The Fifty-First illinois was at the time in the First Brigade commanded by John M. Palmer. On November 29, 1862, Waterman was promoted to first lieutenant of Company B when the incumbent Henry Hall was promoted captain, but Waterman continued to serve as Morgan's aide-de-camp until August 22, 1864.

On September 10, 1864 Waterman was detailed aide-de-camp to Luther Bradley who had been promoted to brigade command; he commanded the brigade of which the Fifty-First was a part. On October 15, 1864, upon the resignation of Andrew Fraser, Waterman was promoted to the captaincy of Company F. Still, he did not return to the regiment and take active command of Company F. He continued as Bradley's aide-de-camp. And, so, Bradley and Waterman came to Spring Hill and the first fight of the end-fight against Hood: Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville, and both were wounded at Spring Hill, Tennessee, November 29, 1864, both suffering slow-healing wounds. A bullet went through Waterman's left leg below the knee, between the two bones, damaging especially the fibula. Donald Lines, drawing his information from a memorial by William A. Montgomery, a one-time law partner of Waterman, said that Waterman was left on the field (when Federal forces were driven back) and was taken captive by Confederate forces, as were a number of his comrades at Spring Hill and Franklin, the Union army falling back to Nashville. Waterman and others of the Fifty-First and many others of the Federal force were moved south to Columbia. From there most were sent on to Andersonville, some to Cahawba in Alabama. But Waterman, probably due to the nature of his wound—he was "placed in rebel hospital"—was not sent on to Confederate prison camp. When George Thomas, including Bradley's Brigade, including the Fifty-First Illiniois, defeated Hood's army at Nashville and drove Hood back south, back through Franklin and Columbia, Waterman fell back into the hands of his friends (December 26, 1864). He was treated by Surgeon Thomas Magee, the regimental surgeon of the Fifty-First (and brigade surgeon of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 4th Army Corps), who was fulfilling his Army of the Cumberland duties in Nashville.

A series of extensions of leave followed while Waterman, in Federal hospitals at Nashville and Louisville and at home in Chicago, tried to recover. He was on crutches for eight months. Four months after the fighting at Spring Hill, a surgeon wrote of Waterman's wound, "The wound is now open and in an unhealthy condition." In April 1865, Bradley recommended to the judge advocate of the Department of the Cumberland that Waterman serve on a court martial panel in Nashville, as his legal training equipped him for it. Waterman did. Bradley wrote to his mother from Nashville on April 8, "Captain Waterman has joined me here. He is still on crutches and will not be able to walk for a good while. I think he will be obliged to have the leg operated on to remove some splintered bone." On May 16, Waterman asked to be relieved even from this desk job, stating, "I am suffering from the effects of a wound and find that I cannot give it (the wound) the attention and care necessary which it could receive from my surgeon in camp. I therefore ask to be relieved to return to my command." Waterman's request was granted. The request was granted, but the ailing Waterman was not long for the world of the regiment; he was mustered out of the service on June 16, 1865. He had actually been with the regiment, serving within its hierarchy in the field, only until June 5, 1862, the date on which he became Morgan's aide-de-camp.

Waterman was breveted major and lieutenant colonel on June 22, 1867. After the war, Waterman pursued law studies at Springfield, Illinois. He was recording secretary of the first reunion of the Army of the Cumberland which was held in Chicago in December, 1868. Waterman practiced law in Chicago until, according to Lines, failing health caused him to abandon the city and the law. He moved to Minnesota. The 1880 census shows him living in Clay County, Minnesota (just over twenty miles east of Fargo, North Dakota) and earning his living as a farmer. He never married.

On May 15, 1884, Waterman was in Chicago and initiated an application for pension. He appointed E. S. Weeden as his pension attorney. Waterman deposed that his occupation had been "lawyer and farmer" and that after the war he had lived in Chicago, Springfield, and Hawley, Minnesota. In November, 1884, the federal Pension Office ordered the pension board in Fargo to examine Waterman, but Waterman was already dead. He died of "apoplexy" in Hawley, Clay County, Minnesota on September 13, 1884.

At the 1875 Reunion of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland. Lines wrote, "For a long period he was secretary of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland. His companions of that Army chose him to deliver the annual oration before the Society in Sept. 1875, at Utica, N.Y." The 1875 reunion had among its attendees Private James Hale of the 109th Pennsylvania Infantry, Captain John Isom of the 25th Illinois Infantry; Waterman, Merrick, and Brown of the Fifty-First Illinois; Grant, who was president of the United States, Hooker, Sheridan, Bradley, Opdycke, Sherman, and hundreds of others. George Thomas was absent, having died in the past year. Grant spoke briefly and said nothing. At the evening session Hooker was applauded to the front, said a word or two, and asked permission to turn the podium over to General Slocum, "who was born talking". Slocum reminded the crowd that Hooker had got ahead of himself at the morning session and there asked for volunteer speeches, "but we forgive him, because we all know he made his attacks eight or ten hours before they were expected." Sherman talked. He showed a moment or two of eloquence when speaking of the very, very early history of the Army of the Cumberland. He rambled on; by the time he concluded, he had said, "Gentlemen, do not forget your drill. Keep your muskets ready, and keep your powder dry."

In his oration, Waterman recalled Thomas: "...loved, respected, and trusted above all others." Waterman opined that the reunion "borders upon the incomprehensible... to the world outside." He remembered those "who did not come back with us, but who sleep beneath the clods in those valleys where the twilight hardly lingers." He considered himself and his comrades as "graduates" of a course of study in "the practical art of war; in the practical application of mud, water, and mules; in the practical solution of the problem how to save a country." He spoke of civilizations that were "devoid of justice" and how the absence of justice eventuated in "the French revolutions and American rebellions". There was no practical value to the question, "why there was a gigantic civil war, why we were soldiers in it, why national traditions and memories were for a time obliterated, why men with the same blood fought terrible battles." Rather, had the men of the army profited by their experience? Waterman answered, "Sturdy men are scattered all through the land who left the army with enlarged habits of thought and reason, with national as well as county and farm ideas, and with a mental vision no longer bounded by the horizon surrounding a county seat, but which took in the entire length and breadth of our land."