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Interesting Facts & Stories
of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Patriot Listed as Deserter Meets Tragic Death
Web Author's Notes:

John Knapp joined Company D of the 16th Ohio on September 13, 1861, from his hometown of Dresden, Ohio. He endured an amazing Civil War experience, survived, started a family but went on to experience what some might say, in retrospect, a very tragic life. After Knapp's harrowing Civil War service he married Mary Frances Kelly in 1866. Two years later, after the birth of their son, Miles, wife Mary died on April 3, 1868. Mr. Knapp remarried Catherine Hunter on August 24, 1870, and went on to father three daughters and another son, from 1872 to 1879. Son Miles, from his first wife, died in 1880. In 1899 his second wife, Catherine, died. That same year his mother died. Read the story, below, as published in the Mattoon, Illinois Daily Journal on December 27, 1902, a week after his death, which completes John Knapp's story.

Thanks to 16th Ohio researcher Rob Garber for the article. Rob is the 3rd great nephew of Capt. William Buchanan, Company F, and has provided much research and contribution to this website.

Article from the Mattoon (Illinois) Daily Journal
published December 27, 1902.

Mattoon Daily Journal article


The Bruce Suicide Was a Patriot
During Civil War.


Without Leave and Waded
Swamps to Return to
His Regiment

John Knapp, a veteran of the civil war, committed suicide at Bruce, Ill., by cutting his throat. Mr. Knapp served in the same regiment with the senior editor of the Arcola Record, the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was one of the tried and true, who always wanted to be at the front when business was on hand.

The Record editor says of Knapp:

At one time he was taken sick with typhoid fever and sent to the hospital at Memphis. When he recovered sufficiently he was sent to a convalescent camp. This was too tame for him and he requested permission to go to his regiment, but the doctor thinking him not sufficiently recovered, refused his request.

The first opportunity that offered itself he escaped from this camp and hid himself on a river boat bound for New Orleans, determined to reach his regiment, then on the western coast of Texas. When he was missed at the camp the commandant notified his company officers that he had deserted and he was marked on the company rolls accordingly.

On his way to New Orleans he took a relapse and remembered only being carried off the boat and laid on the floor in a wedge tent. For four weeks his mind was a total blank. When his reason returned and his terrible determination to live and reach his regiment again took possession of him and he struggled back to life.

His former experience was valuable to him and he remained at the hospital until he was permitted to leave, and joined us in Texas after an absence of five months, much to the astonishment of officers and comrades.

After a time the paymaster came along and he took his place in line, expecting to draw six months' pay. Everyone else had been paid and his name had not been called and the paymaster was about to leave when he called the officer's attention to the fact that the had been missed. Looking down the roll he replied: You are marked here as a deserter.

My God, said Knapp, Here I have been doing everything I could to get to the boys and now I am marked as a deserter. It seems like the ground is opening to swallow me up.

In their joy at his return they had neglected to correct the roll and gave him this unnecessary mortification. Satisfactory explanations were made and he got his money, and Co. D had no more valiant or worthy officer.

When last we met he was in a very poor health, which perhaps produced despondency which culminated in this rash act.

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