John McNab born January 2, 1841, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Peter and Margaret (Forbes).
Shortly after emigrating to America John settled in Michigan and by 1860 he was a farm laborer working for and/or living with John Robson, a farmer in Cannon, Kent County.
John stood 5’5” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 21 years old when he enlisted in Company A on November 13, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the same day. (Company A was made up largely of men from Grand Rapids, and many of whom had served in various local militia units before the war, specifically the Valley City Guards, or VCG, under the command of Captain Samuel Judd, who would also command Company A.)
He was working as a wagoner in September of 1862, on detached duty at Third Brigade headquarters in October, probably as a wagoner and a Brigade wagoner from November of 1862 through July of 1863. He reenlisted on February 4, 1864, near Culpeper, Virginia, was absent on veteran’s furlough in March and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of April.
John was wounded in the face on May 6, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia, and subsequently lost his left eye. Dan Crotty of Company F wrote some years after the war that “Our Regiment, with all our corps, has suffered fearfully so far [at the Wilderness]. John McNabb, of Company A, or as he was more familiarly called, Scotty, has given his left eye as his mite for the cause.” John was subsequently hospitalized and was still absent wounded when he was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.
He remained absent wounded in the hospital through June of 1865, and was eventually transferred to the Veterans’ Reserve Corps. He was discharged from the Fifth company, Second battalion VRC on November 10, 1865, at David’s Island, New York harbor by reason of wounds received in action.
After his discharge from the army John returned to western Michigan and lived the rest of his life in Grand Rapids.
He was married to Michigan native Jennie Ryan (1851-1943), the daughter of William Ryan, formerly of Company H, and they had at least five children: Bettie (b. 1870), John (b. 1872), Jennie (b. 1875), Cora (b. 1877) and Carrie (b. 1879). They may have also had a son Thomas. (Three of the daughters’ married names were Mrs. F. B. Parks, Mrs. E. E. Huling and Mrs. George Wilson.)
By 1880 John was working as a horseman and living with his wife and childrenon Scribner Street in Grand Rapids’ Sixth Ward in 1880, in the Tenth Ward in 1894 and in 1895, at 28 Dwight Street in 1906, at 34 Dwight avenue in 1922, and he lived on Dwight avenue the remainder of his life, working for some years as assistant superintendent of the Consolidated Street Railways of Grand Rapids.
In 1865 John applied for and received pension no. 58,643, drawing $12.00 for a gunshot wound to the face which destroyed his left eye. He became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association in December of 1883.
John died of carcinoma of the lip and upper jaw on Friday morning May 25, 1928, at his home at 34 Dwight Street, and private services were held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday at Metcalf’s chapel. He was buried in Woodlawn “Protestant” (now “east”) cemetery.
His widow applied for a pension (no. 1614988) but the certificate was never granted.