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Federal (USV)


John M. Disbrow

(1846 - 1862)

Home State: New York

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 111th New York Infantry

Before Antietam

Barely 16 years old, giving his age as 18, he enlisted on 6 August 1862 in Galen, and mustered as a Private in Company D, 111th New York Infantry on 20 August.

On the Campaign

He was killed by a gunshot in action on Bolivar Heights above Harpers Ferry sometime after 9 o'clock on the night of 14 September 1862 - possibly "friendly" fire from his own regiment, who fired at noises in the dark.

The rest of the War

One of his messmates, Manley Stacey, wrote home on 1 October 1862:

You ask me about Disbro, I guess I can tell you as much as any one, about him, as I stood near him when he fell, and helped bury him. It is a mistake, his being shot by one of his own Company, as after he was dead, one of our Balls were tried to put into the hole in his head, & would not go. It was a Pistol Shot from a horse Pistol, in all probability by some of the Rebel Cavaraly, as we have no such arms. It is almost positive that he was shot by one of the Rebel Cavalry which attacked us in our Rear. It would be dreadful to think of his being Shot by one of his own comrades. It is universaly acknowledged that he was shot by some of the Rebel Cavalry.

He lived about 15 minutes after he was found the Sunday night of the Battle, the next morning I took a Squad of men, some of our Friends, and went down to bury him. We dug his grave, in the most retired and Shady place that we could find, right at the foot of a large Oak. We buried him, wrapped in up in his Blanket and Overcoat & Cap with the hole in it. I cut his name on a Board, like This J Disbro Co, D 111 Regt, and placed it at the head of his grave, So that he could be found, if wanted. All of us could go right to the Spot in a moment.

Disbro was Shot right over the left Eye, the Ball coming out at the Back of the Head. Disrbo was in the same Mess with me and I thought a great deal of him, as also did the other Boys, He was always kind and obliging, especialy when I was sick, offering to do any thing in his power for me. I do not know that I can tell you any thing more Except, that I knew the [Plan] of his Grave & took some little Trinkets out of his Pockets, which was sent him by Mr, Cookingham. He was always the first to do his duty, always volunteering, never having to be detailed.

References & notes

Basic service from the Adjutant General1 who didn't know when he was killed. Death and friendly fire details from Martin V. Husk's The 111th New York Volunteer Infantry: A Civil War History (2010). His memorial is on Findagrave, source also of the text quoted above, from a letter now in the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, IL.


07/19/1846; Galen, NY


09/14/1862; Harpers Ferry, VA; burial in Bolivar, VA


1   State of New York, Adjutant-General, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York [year]: Registers of the [units], 43 Volumes, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1893-1905, For the Year 1903, Ser. No. 34, pg. 733  [AotW citation 22401]