5th Minnesota
            Battle Flag John King

Name: John King
Company: G
Enlisted January 16, 1862; promoted Sergeant April 24, 1862; First Lieutenant July 22, 1863
  • Date: about 1837
  • Place: Ireland
Mustered In
  • Date: January 16, 1862
  • Rank: Sergeant (as of April 24, 1862)
  • Age: 25
  • Date: March 18, 1886
  • Buried: St. Agatha's Catholic Cemetery, Vermillion township, Dakota county, Minnesota (T114N-R18W; NW 1/4 of Section 8. 170th St. E. West of Highway 52)
Mustered Out
  • Date: September 6, 1865
  • Rank: Captain

John King in the Civil War

John A. King was born in Ireland about 1837, the son of James and Winifred King. Between 1844 and  1860 the James King family was living in Nininger, Dakota County, Minnesota, along the Missippi River near Hastings. James was age 50 and worked as a Stone Mason; his wife "Winnofer" was age 48; sons John (age 23), Patrick (22), James (19), and William (17) were all laborers--possibly helping their father with stone work; son Edward was age 14. All were born in Ireland.

In January 1862, 25-year-old John King enlisted in the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. According to the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System database [CWSS], John King served in both companies G and D of the 5th Minnesota, with "Rank In" as a Sergeant and "Rank Out" as Captain. But in Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars [MCIW], Volume 1, King is listed as Captain of Company G and not listed with Company D at all. The roster from Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars also states that he enlisted on January 16, 1862, was promoted Sergeant on April 24 of the same year, and made first Lieutenant on July 22, 1863. Another John King--age 44--did serve in companies D and F of the 10th Minnesota from August 18, 1862 to August 19, 1865 [MCIW, Vol. 1, p. 478]. Other John Kings also served in Minnesota regiments:
Information Sources
John King
1st Regiment, Minnesota Heavy Artillery, Company I
MCIW, Vol. 1, p. 632; CWSS
John King 2nd Regiment, Minnesota Infantry, Company G Private
MCIW, Vol. 1, p. 138; CWSS
John King 2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery Private
John H. King 3rd Regiment, Minnesota Infantry, Company F Private
MCIW, Vol. 1, p. 188; CWSS
John H. King 6th Regiment, Minnesota Infantry, Company H Private - Sergeant
MCIW, Vol. 1, p. 342; CWSS
John R. King 6th Regiment, Minnesota Infantry, Company A Private
MCIW, Vol. 1, p. 330; CWSS

In fact, the CWSS returns a total of 1237 record listings of John Kings who served in the Civil War. 803 (65%) of them fought for the Union; 434 (35%) fought for the Confederacy. From another perspective: 804 (65%) served in the infantry, 236 (19%) in the cavalry, 107 (9%) in artillery, 6 as sharpshooters, and 5 as engineers. NOTE: There are undoubtedly duplicates in these records, particularly if the same person is listed both with and without a middle initial, or if individual soldiers served in more than one unit. These figures also include men whose first name is an extension from "John", such as "Johnathan" or "Johnson".

John King of the 5th Regiment effectively began his service as 3rd Sergeant, being made a Sergeant on April 24, 1862, as the regiment was being organized. Sergeant John King served for about a year during which the 5th Minnesota Regiment participated in a battle at Farmington (May 28, 1862), the Siege of Corinth (May 26-30), the Battle of Iuka (September 19; 5th Minnesota held in reserve), the Battle of Corinth (October 3-4), Grant's Central Mississippi campaign (November 1862-January 1863), and the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi (May 18-July 4). King was promoted to First Lieutenant on July 22, 1863, as the regiment was concluding its guard duty at Black River Bridge; he filled the vacancy left when Lieutenant Alexis P. Bailly resigned.

Captain John King, Company GFirst Lieutenant John King continued in that position until the war's end. During this period the 5th Minnesota participated in an expedition to Canton, Mississippi (October 14-20, 1863); the Meridian Campaign (February 3-March 2, 1864); the Red River Campaign (March 10-May 22); action at Lake Chicot, Arkansas (June 6); a veterans' furlough (June 17-August 17); Smith's Expedition to Tupelo (non-veteran detachment; July 5-21); Smith's Expedition to Oxford, Mississippi (August 1-30); Mower's Expedition to Brownsville, Arkansas (September 2-10); the pursuit of Price through Arkansas & Missouri (September 17-November 15); the Battle of Nashville, Tennessee (December 15-16); and the Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its Defenses (March 7-April 12, 1865).

With the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, the 5th Minnesota concluded its service with garrison duty at Montgomery, Selma, and Demopolis, Alabama. On May 22, 1st Lieutenant John King was promoted to Captain of Company G when
Orlando Eddy was promoted to Major of the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery. Captain John King was mustered out with the regiment on September 6, 1865.

After the war, John King returned to the area of Hastings, Minnesota. According to The History of Renville County, Minnesota, in the spring of 1871, King filed a government homestead in Palmyra, Renville County, Minnesota. A J. M. Bowler is credited with the following account of the results of King's initiative:

He [John King] gave to his neighbors such a rosy account of the country that, when he went to improve his homestead late in October, he was accompanied by Marion Boyer, Calvin Boyer, Nicholas O'Brien. Joseph S. Bowler, James W. Bowler and John A. Johnson, all except Johnson being Civil war veterans and entitled to a full 160-acre homestead. The party had four teams and journeyed via New Ulm, Fort Ridgeley and Birch Coulie. We camped nights and had a jolly trip. We took along materials enough to build a claim shanty, 14 by 16 feet, on King's homestead. He had told us that the whole township (now Palmyra) was vacant and ours for the taking. Eager to reach the promised land, we plied him with all manner of questions about it. He assured us that the nearest settlers, in Birch Coulie, were a mixed population, but when confronted with the names Reagan, Leary, McLaughlin, Pat Williams, Gillen, Dougherty and others of the same "mixed" significance which he had given us in his glowing account of his former trip to that land of milk and honey, he humorously admitted, now that we had come too far to turn back, that the people were all like himself, of a fierce Irish clan, who would help him to make way with the rest of us and he would have our teams, wagons and outfits and be able to start farming in good shape. But, after a good hearty laugh, Cap affected to relent and said that, as we have been neighbors and friends so long, he would get some red paint at Fort Ridgeley, paint our mouths, change our names and pass us off as Irish. Said he, "There is O'Brien, his name is all right; the Boyers we'll change to Bogerty and the Bowlers to Bolarity; your mugs are all right and will pass for Irish anywhere. But that Swede Johnson; no use to change his name; he can't hit the brogue; they'll kill him sure."

Camping at Birch Coulie on the last leg of our outward trip, we met a goodly number of those same Irish and were received with the generous hospitality peculiar to pioneers and which culminated in long years of mutual regard and friendship. Some have passed on to the better sphere, but a few of us remain, and though scattered, occasionally meet and greet each other with the old time fervor. The subject would fill a book, precious with memories to the sturdy characters who bore a worthy part in the settlement of one of Minnesota's finest counties.

From Birch Coulie in the early morning we drove out to Capt. King's claim. As far as we could see, "vacant" Palmyra was dotted with board and sod claim shanties. Before supper we had built King's shanty and had it ready for occupancy that night when we noticed a man on horseback coming towards us. He proved to be Ed. H. Oleson, who was for many years thereafter a well-known resident of Renville county. He presented to King for his signature a petition for organizing the town of Palmyra. It already contained the signatures of a goodly number of petitioners. As King read the paper I looked over his shoulder and read it, too. The names were all Norwegians or Swede, King turned to me and said, "My name is Kingson; what's yours?" I replied, "I'm Bowlerson." That night, with blankets over it, but nothing under us but the cold, frozen prairie, we were kept busy rolling over and over in vain efforts to get warm.

And so, Captain John King and others from the Hastings area homesteaded in Renville County. John King's homestead was a 160-acre tract of land: the northwest quarter of Section 32 in Palmyra Township (114N-33W, MN, 5th PM). Palmyra is bounded on the north by Meville township, on the east by Martinsburg township, on the south by Bandon township, and on the west by Norfolk township. In 1872 John King was assessed in Palmyra Township's first personal property assessment. King's land would later be purchased by two brothers: Michael and Stephen Sanger.

John King and Mr. J. B. Boyd started the first general store in the city of Renville. While their store was being built, Boyd and King sold goods in a small shack which Mr. Boyd had moved from Willmar. The general store site was later used for the Renville State Bank building.

On December 13, 1879, John King was one of 15 men who united to incorporate the Renville County Agricultural Society. Their first fair was held at Bird Island in 1880. At the end of 1879, Capt. J. A. King bought the Merchants hotel and bar which was begun by P. J. Martell in Bird Island. The 1880 census shows John King and his wife, "Antimus" living in Bird Island, Renville County, Minnesota. John was a 43-year-old Hotel Keeper. Antimus was 36 and had been born in Ohio. Most of the hotel residents listed in the census worked for the railroad.

John King died March 18, 1886, and was buried back in
St. Agatha's Catholic Cemetery, Vermillion township, Dakota County, Minnesota (T114N-R18W; NW 1/4 of Section 8. 170th St. E. West of Highway 52). The 1910 U.S. Census shows Antimus King, age 67, as a widow living as a boarder in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota. On page 466 of the Minnesota History Bulletin from August 1920, a report was made of the donation of a framed tinted photograph of Captain John King of the Fifth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry to the portrait collection of the Minnesota Historical Society. The donation was made by Mrs. C. D. Fisher of Tonka Bay--John King's sister-in-law--who also donated his sabre and several military papers.

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