John Rau was born in 1826 or 1833 in Baden, Germany.
John immigrated to America and eventually settled in western Michigan. By 1860 he may have been the same John Rause, age 28, working as a day laborer and living at the Witherell boarding house in Muskegon, Muskegon County, or he may have been the same John Rowe, born 1826 in Baden, and working as a farm laborer and living alone in Norton, Muskegon County. (Miles Chubb lived nearby; Miles, too, would join the Third Michigan in 1861.)
He was a 35-year-old farmer probably living on the south side of Mona Lake in Norton, Muskegon County when he enlisted in Company C. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.) He was taken prisoner on July 1, 1862, at Malvern Hill, Virginia, confined in Richmond, Virginia, on July 2, and paroled on September 13 at Aiken’s Landing, Virginia. According to the Richmond Dispatch of September 15, 1862,
Three thousand three hundred of the Yankee prisoners left Richmond on Saturday for Varina to be exchanged. – Such as could not walk were conveyed away in wagons. The officers, of which there were 61, went in carriages, provided for the purpose. As the long line filed past the C. S. Prison, on Cary Street, they greeted their less lucky compeers with a feeble cheer. A small cavalry escort accompanied them down. Another large gang were started for Aiken’s landing, on James River, yesterday morning. During Saturday and Sunday five thousand two hundred and twenty-eight were sent away. This leaves on hand only about seven hundred, a good many of whom are in the hospital under treatment for wounds or disease, who were unable to bear removal. Three Yankee women and eight Yankee deserters, or rather men who came over to us and professed to be such, were sent from Castle Thunder. Though these deserters professed to have left their brethren in great disgust, they were very willing to be sent back to the North. The departure of the prisoners will save the Confederate Government an expense of about $4,000 per day, which was the average that their food as soldiers cost.
He returned to the Regiment on either November 15 at Alexandria, Virginia or December 20 at Camp Pitcher, Virginia. In any case, he was captured a second time, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 2, 1863, and confined in Richmond on July 21.
John was admitted to prison hospital no. 21 on October 30 where he died of typhoid fever on November 14, 1863, and was presumably buried in Richmond. (Listed also as “Roee” and as grave no. 2544 in U.S. Quartermaster General’s “Roll of Honor.” There is no additional burial information available.)
No pension seems to be available.