Biography of

Luman Johnson, Co K

LUMAN JOHNSON           
July 4, 1839 – Sept. 21, 1914
(as written by Linda Wade)

It was a beautiful fall day in Carmel Cemetery, Sutton Township, Meigs County, Ohio when I met my great, great grandfather, Luman Johnson. As I searched among the stones to find his resting place, I never imagined that he would become so real to me as he is now. I feel as though I know him, if only through the physical description included in his records, the pension files that explain his wounds and disability and attest to his character and family life, through the news clippings and journal excerpts that tell of his deeds and misdeeds, and details of the 18th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Co K’s journey through the Civil War.

Luman Johnson was the son of John F. Johnson, a German immigrant who changed his name from Frederick Cowgall at the urging of his neighbors, and Lydia Circle (Zirkle). Born in July 4, 1839 in Meigs County Ohio, Luman, spelled Looman on rosters, and his two brothers, Phillip and Noah were coopers when all 3 enlisted in the 18th OVI at Camp Dennison, Ohio, on Oct. 16, 1861 to defend the sovereignty of the Union.

Luman was 23 years old, 5’8” tall with a light complexion and blue eyes, similar to my grandfather Jonas Rush Johnson and I imagine him of stocky build since the pictures I have of his son McClellan and grandson, Anthony show solid built men. He probably had a dry sense of humor too, just like my Grandpa Johnson, who loved a good joke and loved to laugh. My uncles, Russell and Ron Johnson carried that “humor gene” too.

As a teamster for the 18th , Luman, along with his brother Phillip, Sgt. T.C. Hudson and others were transporting supplies back to the unit on May 1, 1862 when, according to the journal of Sgt. Russell Middleswart, they were overtaken by Scott’s Cavalry at Athens, Ala. and taken prisoner.The newspaper article from the Nelsonville News quoting the Athens Messenger’s original article tells of their capture. At another time during his hitch, Luman and Phillip were involved in a questionable situation in which Confederate prisoners in their charge escaped, and again Luman had his name in the news.

The National Archives and Records Admin. Pensions files tell of the bullet that pierced Luman’s right foot between his toes on Sept. 19, 1863 at Chickamauga Creek, near Chattanooga, Tn. Though it sounds like a minor injury, he suffered more and more as he aged, making standing and walking painful and difficult for him and it affected other parts of his body as he tried to compensate for the lame foot. His occupation as a farmer was seriously affected as his disability worsened. What seems like a mountain of paperwork from doctors, relatives and neighbors was needed to secure his small pension. The wound did not, however, end his service to the Grand Army of the Republic and he mustered out at Camp Chase, Ohio the end of the war with his unit.

Luman and Mary Malissa Moore, married Jan. 1, 1860 in Meigs County, Ohio, raising 10 children in Great Bend including McClellan, my great grandfather. There is speculation in the family that he was named for Gen. George McClellan, whom the troops mightily admired, but there is no proof of that theory. I like to believe it just because it strengthens my connection to the past and reinforces my sense of patriotism. Luman and his brothers fought through that horrific time in history as our sons and daughters fight today to free oppressed people that cannot do it alone.

Linda L. Farley Wade, 2005

Sources: NARA Pensions files, diary of Sgt. Russell Middleswart, obituary in Pomeroy, Ohio Tribune Telegraph, death certificate Meigs County, Ohio, marriage record Meigs County, Ohio, transcribed letter from Sgt. T. C. Hudson published in the Pomeroy Telegraph June 20, 1862.