Corp John Dehn

Photo added by MrsJB

Corp John Dehn

  • Birth 1835 Germany
  • Death 21 Jun 1904
  • Burial Colegrove, McKean County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Memorial ID 36055092

Civil War veteran, Union, Company A, First Minnesota Infantry.

John Dehn was German by birth. His parents emigrated to America when he was young. They settled in Claremontville, McKean County, Pennsylvania. When the war broke out he was living in St Paul, Mn. He enlisted at the onset of the war and was mustered into Company H of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry on April 29, 1861. The 25 year old was 6' 3/8" tall, had a florid complexion, gray eyes and sandy colored hair. He gave his occupation as being that of a farmer though in an affidavit later in life he stated that he was a merchant before the war.

Little is known about his service until the battle of Gettysburg. Corporal Dehn began the morning of July 3, 1863, as the only one in the color guard left standing, after the regiment's charge into the Confederate ranks on the previous day. That heroic effort had left their unit a shadow of its former self. The men from Companies C and F were brought back into the ranks and the entire regiment still totaled less than 100 men. Color Sgt. Ellet Perkins, Corporal John Densmore and the another member of the four man color guard had all been wounded during the battle. John was now in charge of the colors, their U. S. flag. The men watched the Confederate advance, in what would become known as Pickett's Charge. As the rebels got close and the firing intensified on both sides John was shot. A bullet entered his right hand and lodged against his wrist joint. He fell and Henry O'Brien took charge of the colors and led the remnants of the unit into their second charge in two days.

After the battle, John was taken to a hospital in Baltimore known as McKim's Mansion. The bullet had lodged itself against his wrist joint. The wound was severe enough that his arm had to be amputated, which it was, four inches below the elbow. He must have been right handed. Thereafter, whenever his signature was required, all he could do was mark an "X" where it was needed. He was not judged to be capable of serving in the VRC. He was discharged from military service at the army hospital in Baltimore on November 19, 1863.

1st Sgt James Wright, of Company F, wrote about the incident later in life.

"Captain Messick was in command, and Corporal John Dehn carried the flag-he being the only one of the color guard of the day before able to be on his feet at the close of fighting the evening of the 2nd-a new detail being necessary. In the 'mix-up' with Pickett's men he was shot through the hand, and the same shot splintered the flagstaff so that it broke in two pieces. Corporal Henry D. O'Brien then took the piece with the flag on and kept it until twice wounded, when it passed to the hands of Corporal William N Irvine, who carried it through the fighting. The flag of the 28th Virginia was captured by Marshall Sherman. A portion of this staff was used to replace the broken portion of ours. The splice made in the field by a little rough whittling and bound with a knapsack strap and was carried afterwards until the regiment went to the state the next February."

On November 25, 1863, in Washington DC, John filed for an Invalid's Pension. Perhaps because of the sacrifice he gave at Gettysburg and to show their respect Colonel Charles P Adams of the First Minnesota acted as a witness and signed the claim. Governor Alexander Ramsey was apparently in Washington at the time for he also signed a form vouching for the statements John was making about his having been wounded, having worked as a merchant but now being an invalid. John signed both by making his "X" as noted before.

John did not return to Minnesota. After his discharge at Baltimore he returned to Clermontville, PA, later known as Claremont. He married a widow by the name of Miami (Davis) Shermer on March 16, 1874, in Norwich Township, McKean County, PA. They settled on a farm in the township of Wrights also located in McKean County. They had no children. On May 15, 1884, John became a charter member of the Henry H. Metcalf GAR Post #431 in nearby Port Allegheny.

John died on June 21, 1904, in Wrights and is buried in the Colgrove Cemetery. In filing for her widow's pension Miami stated that she had known John since 1851. Miami died on July 4, 1908. (bio by: Wayne Jorgenson)


Sources:

"Another Veteran Dies", McKean County Miner, Smethport, PA., June 30, 1904.

No More Gallant A Deed, James F Wright, 2001, p 312-313.

Military Medical Record, John Dehn, National Archives, Wash. D. C.

Military Pension Record, John Dehn, National Archives, Wash. D. C.


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  • Created by: Cindy K. Coffin
  • Added: 19 Apr 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 36055092
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Corp John Dehn (1835–21 Jun 1904), Find A Grave Memorial no. 36055092, citing Norwich Cemetery, Colegrove, McKean County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Cindy K. Coffin (contributor 47084179) .