Eli D. Johnson was born on September 17, 1843, in Spencer (?), Lucas County, Ohio, the son of David M. (1817-1892) and Chloe (Munson, 1817-1885).
Ohio native David married New York-born Chloe and they settled in Ohio. He took his family and left Ohio and by 1857 had settled in Michigan. By 1860 Eli was working as a farm hand and attending school and living with his family in Casnovia, Muskegon County.
He stood 5’7” with gray eyes, dark hair and a light complexion and was a 17-year-old farmer probably still living with his family in Casnovia when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861. (His younger brother Ira would join Company F in 1864. Eli was possibly related to John Johnson who would also enlist in Company F in 1864 and who was also from Muskegon County.)
According to one report Eli was sick with typhoid fever in early September of 1861, and he was reported sick in his quarters in December of 1861, but he eventually recovered and returned to duty. He was again sick this time in the regimental hospital in late February of 1862 and an the hospital at fortress Monroe, Virginia, in April of 1862.
He returned to duty and was again absent sick in May of 1863, rejoined the Regiment and was wounded in the left thigh on July 2, 1863, probably in the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He was subsequently hospitalized, possibly in Philadelphia. According to Eli, he was “struck by a piece of shell weighing about three ounces” which “entered the fleshy part of leg till it struck and fractured the bone and remained in his leg for twenty-four days when it was cut out by [Dr.] Z. E. Bliss.” Moreover, “at the same time he received a gunshot wound by rifle ball in left elbow just above the joint. He laid on the field till the 4th day of July 1863, when he was carried to field hospital, where he remained about ten days. From thence he was taken to West Building hospital [in Baltimore and] about ten days from thence he was taken to Camden Street hospital where he remained till he was discharged.”
Eli was discharged on January 18, 1864, at Baltimore, Maryland, for “the effects of a gun shot wound (shell) of the left thigh received at the battle of Gettysburg July 2nd, 1863, resulting in the permanent contraction of the muscles on the anterior aspect of the left thigh.” He was declared as “Unfit for Invalid Corps.”
Nevertheless, Eli returned to Casnovia following his discharge, and reentered the service in Company A, Tenth Michigan cavalry on February 20, 1865, at Grand Rapids for 1 year, and was mustered on February 24, crediting Casnovia. (In fact Eli is found in both the Third infantry and Tenth cavalry 1905 Regimental histories.) He joined the Regiment on March 16 at Knoxville, Tennessee, and was mustered out with the regiment on November 11, 1865, at Memphis.
After the war Eli returned to western Michigan and by 1870 he was living with his parents and siblings in Casnovia in 1870.
Eli was married to Harriet Munson; she died in May of 1872. He then married his second wife Irene or Irena M. Munson (b. 1855), on November 22, 1872, in Ogden, Lenawee County, Michigan and they had at least one child, a son Jacob D. (b. 1874).
By 1880 Eli was working as a farmer and living with his wife and son in Hart, Oceana County, and residing in Hart in 1883 when he was drawing $8.00 per month for a wounded left leg (pension no. 25,770, dated 1864), drawing $40 per month by 1909 and $72 per month by 1922.
He was still living in Hart in December of 1886 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and in 1888 and 1890, and in Tigris, Oceana County in 1898 and in Hart when he attended the Fiftieth Reunion of the battle of Gettysburg in 1913.
By 1906 he had moved to Pentwater, Oceana County where he lived until 1917.
By 1921 he was living at 21 Cleveland Street in Muskegon, Muskegon County and possibly at 25 Cleveland Street in 1922; he may also have returned briefly to Casnovia, Muskegon County.
Eli was a widower when he died of a cerebral hemorrhage, on April 24, 1922, presumably at his home in Muskegon. He was buried in Randall (Mt. Huftile) cemetery, Hart: lot no. 20.