The 23rd Missouri Volunteer Infantry Goes to War
Affidavit of Lt John A. Fisher, Company D
in the matter of the pension application of Oxley Johnson
[Stamp: US Pension Office Jul 7 1888]
State of Kansas }
County of Marion } SS
On this 21st day of June A.D. 1888
Before me the undersigned Thos Morrison of Said County & State aforesaid Personally came John A. Fisher, of lawful age, who being duly sworn according to law, Says I was first Lieutenant in company D 23d Regt Mo. Vol. Inft.1 and was well acquainted with Oxley Johnson who was a Private in Said Company D 23d Regt Mo. Vol. Inft. I recruited Co. D. between the last of July and the 10th of August 1861 and in that time the said Oxley Johnson was enlisted by me. Co. D. was mustered into the United States Service at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Mo. between the middle and last of September 1861.
About this time an order was issued for three hundred men of the 23d Mo. fifty men from each of the six companys then in camp to Report to headquarters at daylight for instructions, one Commissioned Officer from Each company. I was in command of Co. D.s Detail. Said Oxley Johnson was one of my Detail. Lt. Perie had command of the whole Detail from our Regiment. He marched us through St Louis, from one Headquarters to another for instruction what to do from Early morning till after the middle of the day when we reached Stock yard near Mound Market.2 There he was informed that we were to catch and harness unbroken Mules, which he refused to do saying that the Men did not Enlist for that kind of Service. I told him unless he ordered me not to, that Co. D. would catch Mules. He said I could do as I pleased. So I ordered Co. D. to go to catching Mules. We worked there about an hour catching and harnessing Mules. The Men were jerked around in every directing yet they seemed to Enjoy it. Then Lt. Perie ordered us in line and marched us back to Benton Barracks where we arrived about three Oclock in the afternoon tired and hungry.
|Subduing a recalcitrant Army mule.|
From Leslie's Magazine
In October 1861 our Regt. was in camp on Chattau [Choteau] Ave. & Hickery St. in St Louis Mo. The latter part of October our Regiment left St. Louis Mo. by Steam Boat for St Charles Mo, where we Boarded open flat cars Expecting to meet an Enemy near Mexico or Wellsville Mo. sometime during the night.6 The weather was clear and cold and windy. We moved Slow and cautious, put in most of the night between St Charles & Wellsville. Early in the Morning we Built fires and got our Breakfast near Wellsville. After Breakfast we went to Macon City, Mo. At Macon City said Oxley Johnson complained of being Sick and was reported so at sick call. We had no Hospital at Macon city so the Sick had to remain in their Mess tents during our stay at Macon.7 The Regiment moved from there to Chillicothe Mo. leaving Co. D. with me in commd and the only commissioned officer with it, Capt. Robinson,8 absent on Detached Duty & 2d Lt Carnwell previously resigned, my orders from Col. J. T. Tindall9 was to remain at Macon City untill Col. Grasbecks Ohio Regiment arrived, then I was to take the first train west for Chillicothe, Even if it was a freight train. In a day or two Grasbecks Regt arrived.10
|Federal troops waiting to go somewhere in luxurious boxcars.|
Somewhere in Virginia, not Missouri.
On that same day we left for St Louis Mo. and at that time I was again in command of Co. D. as Capt Robinson was on leave and joined us at St Louis Mo. and on the first of April we started for Pittsburg Landing Tenn. [I] was captured the Evening of April 6th 1862 at Shiloh Tenn, and was Paroled at Libby Prison Richmond Va, Oct 12th 1862. I have not met Said Oxley Johnson Since I left him at Chillicothe in March 1862, untill I met him at the [Grand Army of the Republic] National Encampment at St Louis, Mo in September 1887.13 We were together two or three days, him and I slept in the same bed. Part of the time I consider him in a bad fix as far as I know. From the date of Enlistment I was Present for Duty with Co. D. up to the Battle of Shiloh April 6th 1862, Except fifteen or twenty days, between November 15th & December 15th 1861, I was on Detached Duty Recruiting for the Regiment.
That affiant makes the above Statement from Personal Knowledge, between dates already stated, and that I have no interest in the Prosicution of the above claim, that my Age is 62 years and my Present P.O. address is Florence Marion County Kans.
John A. X Fisher (his mark)
[Click on the footnote number to return to the text.]
[Oxley Johnson Pension files, Claim No. 237,502. Spelling and capitalization as in original document which is seven handwritten pages. Transcribed from photocopy.]
1 John A. Fisher, born about 1832, came from New York before the war to Harrison County, Missouri, where he was a neighbor of Oxley Johnson in Clay Township. John was probably kin to Sgt Eugene B. Fisher. Both men moved with their families after the war to Marion County, Kansas. Probably for that reason Oxley thought that Lieutenant Fisher had died until they met again at a GAR convention in Saint Louis, a few months before Fisher made this affidavit.
2 Records list a Stephen B. Peery as Lieutenant in Company B. A well-off lawyer from Virginia, he lived in Grundy County before the war. Benton Barracks was located in what became Fairgrounds Park, in the northern part of the urban area. Mound Market, also known as the North Market, was at Broadway and Lucas, in the older part of town, not far from where Samuel Eads later built his famous bridge across the Mississippi, a little over three miles (or an hour's march each way) from Benton Barracks.
4 Lafayette Cornwell, 2nd Lieutenant in Company D, was born about 1829 in Kentucky. He apparently died not long after the war.
5 The mule-catching detail seems to have been forgotten by the higher-ups, who had made no arrangements for feeding or quartering them.
6 The war was beginning to heat up, and the Federal authorities, still fearful that divided Missouri might slip from their control, sought to blanket Little Dixie with blue-clad troops. The 23rd's expedition did not merit special mention in the Official Records. According to my calculations Company D traveled about 40 miles by steamboat, and then 154 miles overnight on open flatcars to Macon.
7 This of course almost guaranteed that the diseases would spread to comrades who had previously escaped infection. One of them was Private Francis Marion Hanson, who stated in an affidavit of 12 Sep 1889, "I being a Bunk Mate took the measles myself from Johnson." And on 2 Oct 1891 Hanson reiterated, "Belonging to the same Co. & mess I slept with him and caught the measles from him."
8 William Perrine Robinson was elected captain of Company D when it was organized, but his abilities (including service during the Mexican War) earned him promotion. He became regimental commander 7 June 1862. A sketch.
9 Colonel Jacob Tindall, original commanding officer of the 23rd, was killed at Shiloh, 6 April 1862.
10 Col Grasbeck not identified. Perhaps the name was something like Grossbach.
11 The army took over rooms in a private house (or houses) to serve as hospital wards for the five months the regiment was in Chillicothe. I suspect the homeowners' patriotic spirit was sorely tried.
12 Another example of the lack of organization. The unit was only 200 miles from major military department headquarters in Saint Louis, connected by rail and telegraph, not off on the front lines in Arkansas or Tennessee, but somehow those in charge could not arrange to get pay to the men.
13 The twenty-first National Encampment of the GAR was held in Saint Louis, September 28-30, 1887. By this time the veterans' organization counted over 350,000 members and had become an adjunct of the Republican Party. Oxley would have been a member of Neodesha Post 145, Department of Kansas.