When the Tenth Indiana was recruited in the fall of 1861, they took for their drummer a little fellow, named Johnny McLaughlin, whose parents reside at Lafayette, Indiana. He was then a little over ten years of age, and beat his tattoo at the head of the regiment for several months of active service.
At Donelson and at Shiloh, when the drum-beats were drowned in the deeper roar of battle, Johnny laid down his sticks, and taking the musket and cartridge box from a dead soldier, went out to the front, and fought as bravely as the stoutest soldier in the regiment. Escaping unhurt in each of these engagements, he was enamoured of soldier life, and sought a transfer from the infantry to Col. Jacob’s Kentucky cavalry. Being favorably impressed with the spirit and zeal of the young warrior, Col. Jacob put him into his best company, and mounted him on a good horse. At the engagement at Richmond, which soon followed, in the summer of 1862, he fought with as much coolness and skill as any of his company, handling his sabre, revolver, and revolving rifle with the address of a veteran.
In October following, he was in another battle, at Perryville, where he received his first wound, a ball passing through the leg above the knee.
In this engagement Col. Jacob, with a part of his command, was temporarily separated from the greater part of the regiment, and while thus cut off was attacked by a largely superior force of the enemy, led by a Major. Col. Jacob was deliberating for a moment on the demand to surrender, when the little hero drew his pistol and shot the Major in the mouth, killing him instantly. a few moments of confusion and delay followed in the rebel regiment, during which Col. Jacob and his men escaped.
A few weeks after, he was engaged in a skirmish with some of John Morgan’s men, who were raiding through Kentucky, and the fighting was severe.
Johnny was set upon by a strapping fellow, who gave him a pretty severe cut on the leg with his sabre, and knocked him off his horse. A moment after, another rebel seized him by the collar, and exclaimed: “We’ve got one d—d little Yankee, anyhow.” The little Yankee did not see it in that light, however, and quickly drawing his pistol, shot his captor dead, and a moment after the rebels were routed, and he escaped capture.
As he was going back to Indiana on furlough to give his wound time to heal, he was stopped at one point by a provost guard, and his pass demanded.
“O,” said he, “the Colonel didn’t give me one, but just told me to go along with the rest. But, “added the little soldier, showing his wound, “here’s a pass the rebs gave me; ain’t that good enough for a little fellow like me?” The guard thought it was.
His wound proved quite serious, and, much to his surprise, and against his wishes, he received his discharge in consequence of this and his extreme youthfulness. Not relishing civil life as long as the hostilities lasted, he applied at the recruiting office, but the condition of his leg excluded him.
Nothing daunted, however, he sought and obtained an interview with the President, who on hearing the story of the boyish veteran, gave a special order for his enlistment.
He had now made up his mind to follow the life of a soldier, and joined the regular army of the United States as a bugler in the cavalry service, and makes as fine-looking, neat, and obedient a little dragoon as there is in the army.
Originally posted 2008-08-07 20:03:14.