Oscar L. Herrington

Oscar L. Herrington, alias “William Johnson,” was born in 1838.

Oscar stood 5’11” with brown eyes and hair and a light complexion, was 23 years old and unable to read or write and possibly working as a blacksmith in Ionia County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861; he was possibly related to George Herrington of Company K. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.) He was reported missing in action at Bull Run on July 21, 1861. Apparently during the battle “he was left to guard the baggage at Bull Run and supposed to have been cut off,” presumably from friendly troops. He soon “escaped and joined his Regiment for duty.”

From April 9 to 14, 1862, he was apparently hospitalized, suffering from dysentery, but eventually returned to his Regiment. He may in fact have never fully recovered his health since he was reportedly sick in Kearny’s Division hospital at Baltimore store, Virginia (near Talleysville) when he was taken prisoner on June 30, 1862. He was paroled at Talleysville on July 10, sent to Fortress Monroe and arrived at Old Point, Virginia on the John Tucker, on the afternoon of July 11th. He then reported to Camp Parole, Maryland, on July 13, and from July 31 to August 28, 1862, was ill from typhoid fever and hospitalized at the U.S. General Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland.

According to a statement given in 1890, Byron Hess, former Lieutenant of Company D, testified that “on or about July 1, 1862” Hess was sent to the general hospital in Annapolis, Maryland. “A few days after,” Hess testified, “Herrington was sent to the same hospital with if I remember correctly typhoid or malarial fever having at the same time a bad diarrhea. I returned to my Regt about the middle of August 1862 leaving him in the hospital at Annapolis. On leaving the hospital . . . I asked the surgeon in charge of the ward what he thought of Herrington’s case. He replied by saying ‘he did not think he would ever get through’. I left the hospital never expecting to seem him again. I saw him about six years ago for the first time after -- very much disabled. I am now a practicing physician as I was then (six years ago) and think the said Herrington is troubled very much with rheumatism, chronic diarrhea and a very feeble lung, . . . and totally unfit for manual labor.”

Oscar remained a paroled prisoner of war, probably at Annapolis, until he was reported as having deserted on October 23, probably from the hospital.

However, according to the War Department Oscar reentered the service as one “William Johnson” in the U.S. Navy and served aboard the USS Chillicothe.

Oscar survived the war and eventually returned to western Michigan. He lived in Muskegon possibly from 1862 to 1865, then in Portland, Ionia County from about 1865 to 1873 when he moved to Lansing and then to Ogemaw County, probably settling in Ogemaw Springs.

In the early or mid-1880s Oscar applied for a pension, but was unsuccessful in removing the charge of desertion. In his service record and pension application is a notation from the Adjutant General’s office, War Department, dated December 13, 1884: “Application for removal of the charge of desertion and for an honorable discharge has been denied.” No further information is provided and no reasons for the denial are given.

Interestingly, in about 1891, Oscar, under the name of “William Johnson” applied for and received a pension (no. 30,729) for service in both the US Navy and the Third Michigan infantry.

By the 1890s Oscar was possibly living in Prescott on the eastern side of the County. (There was a civil war veteran named Oscar Harrington residing in Grand Rapids Fifth ward in 1894. However, he was most likely Captain Oscar Harrington who had served in Ohio regiments during the war and who was an inmate of the Soldiers’ Home in Grand Rapids in 1890.)

Oscar was still living in Ogemaw, under the name of “William Johnson” in 1900.