Andrew Jackson Johnson was born on May 28, 1840, in Trumbull County, Ohio the son of Ichabod (d. 1876) and Mary A. (Whitmore).
New York natives Ichabod and Mary were married in Trumbull County, Ohio in 1837 and Ichabod was probably living in Ashtabula County in 1840. Andrew and his family moved from Ohio to western Michigan. By 1850 Andrew was attending school with his siblings and they were living with their mother and the Fransisco family in Watertown, Clinton County. Andrew reportedly spent several years hunting and trapping in Northern Michigan before the war and probably also followed his father’s trade of blacksmith.
Andrew was 20 years old and probably living in either Mecosta or Muskegon County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company H on April 28, 1861. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.) he suffered at injury to his back during a fall while with the regiment near Chain Bridge, Virginia, in July of 1861. he was also treated for chronic diarrhea at Mount Pleasant hospital in Washington, DC or Georgetown, DC, during the Peninsula campaign in the summer of 1862.
Apparently Andrew, also known as “Slasher Jack,” had spent some time in Mecosta County, possibly in the vicinity of Big Rapids before the war. In January of 1863, he wrote the editor of the Mecosta County Pioneer, the following letter in which he criticized the administration’s mishandling of the war and its foolishness in replacing McClellan with Burnside.
With pleasure I receive the Pioneer, for from it I glean nearly all the news I get from that part of the country, and I must say it is hailed with more joy, and perused with greater satisfaction than any other paper that comes into the camp of the Third Michigan. The editorial in the 25th number, which I received yesterday, meets the approbation of nearly every soldier in the camp, and it cheers them to know that the people of the North begin to see what the army has long known, that the fault is not in the army, but in the political parties at the head of the army. The fault was not with General McClellan, when he was in command but it was with the political opposition which was brought to bear upon his movements. That was one reason for his tardiness in getting ready to move; he having to lay his plans to avoid political opposition to his movements, for if they discovered that he was ready to strike a death blow to the rebellion, which they did somehow every time, they would either throw a block in his way, or else remove him from command, rather than let a Democrat have the honor of putting down the rebellion. Such feelings as these have hurt the Republican party more in the army (I say this, though I am a Republican myself) than anything else that could have been done; and it has disheartened the arm more than all the defeats it has ever suffered, for the reason that there is hardly a man init but who knows the true cause of every defeat, and they all know that we do not lack for strength to win every battle. We do not want a man more than we now have, to put down the rebellion, if they were only led forward for that purpose, instead of being used to make great men with, as they have been use [sic] heretofore.
There is nothing going on here at present, except reviews and inspection of troops; nor has there since General Burnside took command, only they took us across the river at Fredericksburg and killed ten thousand of us, to let Burnside know that the rebels were over there, but that was not worth mentioning. The loss of ten thousand men don’t amount to anything now; no, they often kill that many men to make a general of some man like our present one [Burnside], and all there is said about it is, that he is much obliged to the widows and orphans for the lives of their husbands and fathers which he has taken to make a railroad on which to run himself up to the presidency; but enough of this.
The boys are all well who came from Mecosta, as far as I know. The weather is fine as in the month of June; Christmas and New Year’s were the finest days I ever saw for the time of year. Excuse mistakes, and believe me yours. J.
He was absent sick from June of 1863 through October, and by November he was reported absent sick in a hospital in Washington, DC, where he remained through February of 1864. (One source reported after the war that “He was wounded twice in his left leg, and also received an injury to his scalp. . .”) In March Andrew was reported as a Corporal, and he was transferred to One-hundred-nineteenth Company, Second Battalion, Veterans’ Reserve Corps at Annapolis, Maryland, on either November 25, 1863, or February 15, 1864.
According to the Mecosta County Pioneer, Andrew returned “home” -- possibly to Big Rapids or at least Mecosta County -- in July of 1864. In any case shortly after he was discharged from the army he settled on some 80 acres of land on section 26, in Hersey Township, Osceola County, where he probably lived the rest of his life.
On January 6, 1866, he married Ohio native Mary A. Jones (1846-1922), in Big Rapids, mecosta County, and they had at least six children: Alice May (1867-68), Charles A. (b. 1868), Mary E. (b. 1871), George W. (b. 1873), William P. (b. 1877) and Courtland W. (b. 1880).
For many years Andrew worked as a farmer and blacksmith. By 1880 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Hersey, Osceola County. In December of 1879 (?) he applied for and received a pension (no. 269378).
He was probably living at home in Osceola County when he died on February 23, 1880. He was buried in Oakdale cemetery in Hersey, Osceola County.
During the December 1881 reunion of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, a collection was taken for Johnson’s widow, which resulted in a benefit to her of $40. In December of 1884 Mary applied for and received a widow’s pension (no. 319633), drawing $30 per month by 1922. She was living in Hersey in 1890 and 1891.