Sunday, February 26, 2012
In May of 1861, one of the many who answered President Lincoln's call for volunteers was John Clem of Ohio. He was denied admittance by the 3rd Ohio Regiment, however, because he was only 9 years old at the time. Undeterred, he sought out the 22nd Michigan instead and followed them around, eventually being accepted as a drummer boy and unofficial mascot. On September 20 of that year, the 22nd was fighting in the Battle of Chickamauga, and young John - armed with his special musket, which his fellow soldiers had sawn down to his size - was discovered by a Confederate colonel, who called for him to surrender. In response, John shot the colonel and escaped back to his unit. For his heroics, John Clem was promoted to Sergeant at the age of 12, was later personally promoted to Lieutenant by President U.S. Grant, and ultimately reached the rank of Brigadier General. He retired in 1915 as the last remaining Civil War veteran to serve in the US military, and was promoted to Major General as he did.