|Unit History Project|
Foreward and Notes
John was born 13 July 1838 probably in Dublin, Ireland. His mother’s name was probably Jane because he named his first child, Jennie, a diminutive for Jane. He enlisted in the 21st Foot during the Crimean War. He lied about his age because he was only 16 and enlisted as a private not as a boy. After brief service in the Crimea and a stay at Florence Nightingale’s hospital he returned to Dublin. He deserted in July 1855. He arrived in New York on 13 October 1855 and went to Lansingburgh, New York where he was a brush maker, a trade his sister and her husband followed in Dublin, Ireland.
On 14 July 1857 he enlisted in US Navy and was assigned to USS Wabash. Wabash was sent to Panama and participated in the capture of the infamous freebooter, William Walker. After the ship returned to New York the crew was discharged. John quickly reenlisted and was assigned to the USS Relief. Relief was a supply ship and returned to Aspinwall, Panama. Following Relief’s return to New York John was again discharged on 29 January 1859.
He returned to Lansingburgh and married Margaret McCabe 3 July 1859. On 24 April 1861, shortly after Fort Sumter was attacked, John enlisted in 30th NY Volunteer Infantry. After arriving in the Washington area he volunteered for service on the Western Waters and served in USS Carondolet and later in USS Lafayette. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for his service in Carondolet. Following his discharge he returned to Lansingburg. He reenlisted in Company C, 21st New York Cavalry in September 1864 and served until May 1865 following the end of the Civil War.
His diary covers the most of the time that he served during the Civil War. There are some gaps. One was apparently because he could not find a journal.
The original of the diary was in the possession of my great aunt, Margaret Morrison until sometime after 1954. She donated it to the Naval Historical Foundation.
I did not correct Morrison's spellings nor a few errors and inconsistencies I found. I only made it match the original typescript.
Please cite the diary as the source of any quotes or extracts that you may wish to use. The original is now in the Naval Historical Center Library at the Washington Navy Yard.
James L. Owens
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History