Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

#40--John Hannah--Civil War Soldier--Serving in the Trans-Mississippi Theater

When I think about the Civil War and the battles, I think about battles in Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.  However, as I followed John Wesley Hannah as a soldier, I found a different part of the war—one that was played out in the west and is known as the Trans-Mississippi Theater.  That theater consisted of the area west of the Mississippi River, including the states of
Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and part of Louisiana as well as Indiana Territory (Oklahoma).  That is the place that John Wesley Hannah and the Illinois 62 spent two years. 
The 62nd remained at LaGrange, Tennessee until August 19.  However, on July 18, John applied for a 20 day leave because of his health.  His application was approved by the camp surgeon, Dr. Cameron, who stated that John has had “bilious remitting fever” for the last four weeks, had to stay in his room, and would benefit from a different environment.  I had no idea what “bilious remitting fever” was, but from several online sources about diseases during the Civil War I learned that it was relapsing fever characterized by vomiting bile and diarrhea.
From August 19 to the 28th, 1863 the 62nd was involved in General Steele’s Campaign against Little Rock, moving first to Memphis, Tennessee, then to Helena, Arkansas, which was held by Union forces.   Believing that attacking Helena would take pressure off Vicksburg, Confederate General Holmes and his troops attacked that town on July 4, 1863.  While the Confederates had more troops and took some fortification, they were repelled by the Union forces, which remained in control of Helena.  This is an important battle in the War, one which I had never heard of, probably because it occurred on the same day as the battle at Gettysburg. 
The 62nd was next involved in the battle of Little Rock.   According to the National Park Service Battlefield Protection Program:
 On September 10, 1863, Maj. Gen. Fred Steele, Army of Arkansas commander, sent Brig. Gen. John W. Davidson’s cavalry division across the Arkansas River to move on Little Rock, while he took other troops to attack Confederates entrenched on the north side. In his thrust toward Little Rock, Davidson ran into Confederate troops at Bayou Fourche. Aided by Union artillery fire from the north side of the river, Davidson forced them out of their position and sent them fleeing back to Little Rock, which fell to Union troops that evening. Bayou Fourche sealed Little Rock’s fate. The fall of Little Rock further helped to contain the Confederate Trans-Mississippi theater, isolating it from the rest of the South. (http://www.nps.gov/abpp/battles/ar010a.htm)
The 62nd remained at Little Rock.  From his muster roll, it appears that John was the commanding officer of Company K from October 22 to December 22 as he was he entitled extra pay for those duties.  On January 9, 1864 John along with the other soldiers re-enlisted as a veteran organization.  On April 25, 1964, the 62nd moved to Pine Bluff Arkansas.  On August 31, 1864, John Wesley mustered out as a 1st Lieutenant, was promoted to Captain and became commander of Company K.  On August 12, 1864, John along with the other veteran soldiers returned to Illinois for a veteran furlough.  The furlough lasted until November 25, 1864, when he returned to Pine Bluff.
On February 5, 1865, John was detached from duty to serve as the Provost Marshall in Pine Bluff.  I was not sure what exact a provost marshal did, but the following explanation from Family Search (https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Union_Provost_Marshals%27_File) was extremely helpful: 

The provost marshals who served in territorial commands, armies, and Army corps were the military police. They sought out and arrested deserters, Confederate spies, and civilians suspected of disloyalty. They also investigated the theft of Government property, controlled the passage of civilians in military zones and those using Government transportation, confined prisoners and maintained records of paroles and oaths allegiance,

John continued as Provost Marfshall through June of 1865.

In April, 1865, the men who were not veterans were ordered back to Illinois for mustering out.  Those that remained were consolidated into seven companies.  John Wesley became to Captain of the new Company D and also continued as Provost Marshall.  On July 8, 1865 the 62nd became part of Brigadier General Bussey’s command at Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory.
On September 14, 1865 John Wesley resigned as Captain of Company D, 62nd Illinois.  He gave two reasons:  one that he has served for four years in the regiment, and second that his business at home required his immediate attention.  He also indicated he had been paid through April 30, 1865, had returned all the property owned by the government, and that he did not owe the Government any money.  He also stated that at the time of his resignation the company consisted of the following:  3 Commissioned Officers and 88 enlisted men.

I am not sure exactly why John resigned.  Since he referred to personal business, I am assuming he is referring to his father’s death which occurred in 1865.  Therefore, he needed to return to his home in Edgar County, Illinois to deal with his father’s affairs and the farm.  

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