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Federal (USV)


John Crosby McKenney

(1831 - 1908)

Home State: Maine

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 7th Maine Infantry

Before Antietam

Age 29, from Phippsburg, he enlisted as a Sergeant in Company B, 7th Maine Infantry on 22 August 1861. He was acting First (Orderly) Sergeant of his Company by September 1862.

On the Campaign

He later wrote of his experience at Antietam on 17 September 1862:

I was First Sergt. of B Company, and went into the fight when I could honorably have kept out, as I was on the sick list at the time, and had been for nearly two weeks. The Regiment went into the battle with less than two hundred men.

In the forenoon we were supporting a battery. In the afternoon we were ordered to advance and drive back a large skirmish line of Rebels in our front. We advanced and drove them back over a short hill; and when we reached the top of the hill, we found a rebel brigade waiting for us. They gave us a volley, which we returned the best we could. In a few minutes we discovered that the Rebels were on our flank and rear; they opened fire on us from that direction.

Maj. Hyde immediately gave the order: "By the left flank, double quick, march!" A rail fence was in our path, and a gap had to be made by the head of the column to get through. Maj Hyde could not go where the men were filing through; and 1st Sergeants Hill, Benson and McKenney, stopped and tore down a place for the Major to get his horse through. By this time all had passed on, and left the three Sergeants in the rear of the command. All were running to get out of the trap. I being weak and exhausted, was soon left behind; I was compelled to surrender, and was reported missing. Sergeants Hill and Benson escaped, and were promoted for special bravery.

The rest of the War

For five days we lived mostly on green corn taken from the fields through the Shenandoah Valley. We reached Staunton, and were put into cattle cars, sent to Richmond, and confined in Libbey Prison thirty days.
He was paroled to Annapolis, MD and returned to duty in December 1862 while the regiment was in Portland, Maine, recruiting. He was formally promoted to First Sergeant in 1863 and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant of Company K, 32nd US Colored Troops on 11 March 1864. He transferred as First Lieutenant to Company B on 6 August 1865 and mustered out with them on 22 August in Philadelphia. In October 1865 he was appointed First Lieutenant, Company C, 11th US Colored Troops, and was discharged on 12 January 1866.

After the War

By 1870 he was a grocer in Eliot, York County, ME. In 1880 he was a watchman for the US Navy, probably at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. By 1900 he was a clerk at the Naval Shipyard, still living in Eliot.

References & notes

His status as missing at Antietam from Hyde,1 as John C. McKenney. His service from the Adjutant General2 and the Army Register.3 He's also seen as John C. McKinney in some records, and his father may have spelled his surname that way. Further details from Dr. J.L.M. Willis' Old Eliot: A Quarterly Magazine of the History and Biography ... (Vol. VII, No. 4, Oct-Dec 1906), source of the quotes above, family genealogists, and the US Census of 1870, 1880, and 1900. His gravesite is on Findagrave.

He married Elvira Jane Tobin (1833-1910) in September 1857 and they had 4 sons between 1862 and 1872.


08/02/1831; Phippsburg, ME


01/22/1908; Eliot, ME; burial in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Eliot, ME


1   Hyde, Thomas W., Casualties in the Seventh Maine Regiment in the Battle of Antietam, Lewiston Falls (Maine) Journal, 1862-10-02  [AotW citation 6613]

2   State of Maine, Adjutant General's Office, and John L. Hodsdon, AG, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine for the Year ending December 31, 1862, Augusta: Stevens and Sayward, Printers to the State, 1863  [AotW citation 27836]

3   US Army, Adjutant General, Official Army Register of the Volunteer Forces, U. S. Army, 8 vols., Washington, DC: Adjutant General's Office, 1867  [AotW citation 27837]