A saddler and jailer from Illinois, McLean F. Wood served as a private in the 4th Illinois Infantry during the Mexican War. He raised a company in 1861, and was made Captain in the 10th Illinois Infantry. He was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in June, 1862. Wood commanded the regiment during Sherman's March to the Sea. He was mustered out on June 12, 1865, but he returned to the field to take command of the 154th Illinois Infantry as a Colonel. This proved to be a fatal mistake.
Wood took command of the District of Middle Tennessee, Department of the Cumberland in July. He contracted typhoid fever and spotted fever the same month while at Nashville. After an illness of three weeks, Wood died on August 6, 1865. He left behind a wife, named Sophia, and a 7 year old son named Edward.
Wood's remains were returned to his hometown of Jacksonville, Illinois, and the funeral services held at Strawn's Hall. Flags throughout the city were flown half-mast and his coffin wrapped in the U.S. flag. On August 11, 1865, the Daily Illinois State Journal declared that Wood’s “reputation as an officer and soldier, added to his private virtues, have caused all to mourn his loss.”
"Long after the proudest mausoleum shall have crumbed to dust," the same paper noted five days later, "the deeds of these men [Wood and two other officers killed in action] shall live fresh and green in the memory and heart of the nation whose fullness of freedom they lived and died to accomplish."
Wood's headstone at East Cemetery has since crumbled to dust, and his deeds have been forgotten. That was at least the case until May, 2021. A veteran headstone was added to his unmarked grave. His sacrifice has not been forgotten.