McClanahan, John, IL Vol Inf

John_McClanahan_portraitCapt. John McClanahan

IL Vol Inf, Co. B, 83rd Reg 

John McClanahan was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia on Nov. 6, 1794. He moved with his father’s family to Adams County, Ohio in November, 1799. He was married to Margaret “Peggy” Black Wright. To these 2 people were born seventeen children, nine boys and eight girls.

He became connected with the Church in early life and lived a consistent Christian life. He took an active part in church matters and was ever concerned for the moral condition of humanity. He was elected elder in 1832 and continued in that office in the various churches of which he was a member during his lifetime. Although an amiable man, he always felt an interest in military affairs and in the fall of 1812, when the President issued a call for volunteers to defend our northern boundary he responded and was chosen Orderly Sergeant. Shortly after, he was elected Major, Brigade Inspector, and some years later, Brigadier General of the militia of Adams County, Ohio, a post which he held until 1836. In addition to serving his country in this capacity, he represented Brown County, Ohio, one term in the State Legislature.

Under the President’s call for volunteers in August, 1862, he took an interest in raising troops and although in his sixty eighth year, he was by acclamation elected Captain of Company B, 83rd Illinois Infantry. His company awarded him a sash and sword in St. Louis, Missouri, on August 28, 1862 before they headed to Cairo, Illinois. He considered his age a barrier and after serving with the Company six months, he started back home to resign his commission. When at Cairo he heard that the rebels were on their way to attack Fort Donelson so he turned back and rejoined his Company and led them in battle, receiving a severe wound to his thigh.

He died at Fort Donelson, February 23, 1863, from the effects of the wound he received in defense of that post on the 3rd of February, in his sixty-ninth year. In a letter that one of the men of his company wrote to his wife, M. A. Thompson stated, “I have to write to you of the death of our beloved Captain, which took place at 4 o'clock of the morning of the 23rd. We were not altogether prepared for it but could see that he was sinking gradual and finally the diarrhea set in and reduced him rapidly. He sank away just as though he were going to sleep and even in death I never have seen a corpse more natural and look so calm. A person could hardly distinguish only through the pallid cheek but what he reposed in sleep. Such is the death of the righteous. I think it was truly said by a man in an adjoining company, that “if ever a man went to heaven, Captain McClanahan was one. He was put into a metallic coffin and his son took him home.”

At least 3 of his sons also served in the Civil War, William Steele McClanahan was in the 17th Infantry and the 138th Infantry, Francis McClanahan in the 36th Infantry, and Monroe Robentile McClanahan, also in the 138th Infantry.

Captain John and his wife Elizabeth are buried in Cedar Creek Cemetery in Monmouth, Illinois.

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