David Kernehan was born in 1840.
David was 21 years old when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861, at Grand Rapids, Michigan, for three years, and was mustered on June 10.
On July 3, 1861, barely three weeks after the Third Michigan left Michigan and arrived outside of Washington, DC, at the Chain Bridge near Georgetown, David apparently atemted to desert. George W. Bailey of Company F, wrote to the editor of the Allegan Journal on July 15, that Kernehan “ran the guards last Monday, and went over into Virginia about eight miles, stopped at a house and asked for a drink, which was given him. Soon after drinking he went into spasms. A doctor who lived near by took the fellow in and sent word to our camp that one of our men was poisoned. Some of our men went and took care of him until Friday, and then brought him to camp. He is pretty hard up, don’t know whether he will live or not. The man by whom he was poisoned fled.”
Another member of the Third Michigan, noted that on Wednesday, July 3, 1861, Kernehan “ran the guards” at Camp Blair near Chain Bridge above Georgetown Heights on the Potomac River. Without authorization he left camp and “went some miles into Virginia.”
While there [reported the Grand Rapids Enquirer] he stopped at a house where a Mr. Deevies lives, and asked for a drink of water. There is a striking resemblance between this name and that of his Satanic Majesty [Jefferson Davis]. Well, names in the same family are sometimes slightly changed. This D., or rather Mr. Deevies, gave him the water. After drinking it, the soldier started for the camp. Within 10 minutes after drinking the man was taken with vomiting and spasms. Fortunately, a doctor came that way, saw him, and by extreme exertions saved the man from dying. From the symptoms and facts in this case, our surgeons had no hesitation in pronouncing a case of poisoning from strychnine. He was brought back to camp yesterday, placed in the hospital, and is on a fair way for recovery. The man Deevies was not be found, a day or 2 afterwards, when search was made for him. He is said to be a rank secessionist. If any of our boys get him he will be employed in stopping musket balls the remainder of his life; after which he will undoubtedly be resigned to the tender case of that illustrious personage whose name is so like his.
David apparently recovered, however, and reportedly deserted on June 20, 1862.
There is no further Record, and no pension seems to be available.