J. S. Leonard - One of Soldiers Detailed to Help Capture Jefferson Davis

This obituary was found while I was doing family history research. Unfortunately it was submitted without identifying the source. While Mr. Lenoard is described as an East Otto native son, it should be noted he lived in the Towns of Mansfield and Little Valley as well as several states.

November 2, 1934, East Otto:  The body of Sidney Leonard 89, last survivor of East Otto's native sons who took part in the Civil War was brought to the East Otto cemetery Thursday for burial, preceded by funeral services at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Bell Blackman, New Albion.

Mr. Leonard had traveled extensively through 35 states of the Union and the District of Columbia and had lived in 11 of them. During the later years of his life he had spent the winters in Florida and the summers in New York. He believed that Washington, D.C. had the climate best suited for an all-the-year home of any section of this country.

He was born in the red brick house then owned by his grandfather, Nathan Larabee, later purchased by Moses Beach near Kettle Corners, and after the death of both parents, moved to Wisconsin with his older brother and their grandparents. As soon as he was old enough. Mr. Leonard enlisted in the Wisconsin cavalry and served until the end of the war. He took part in the battles of Dalton, Resca, Buzzard's Roost, Kinesawa Mountains and smaller engagements, and at the siege of Atlanta.

Sees Jeff Davis

After Atlanta, Mr. Leonard was selected, one of 12 from his company and several from two other companies to go after Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States. Col. Hurndon was in command. Col. Pritchard with a detachment of 4th Michigan cavalry was also sent out after Davis, but went another way so that the first company knew nothing of his movements. After several days of hard marching through Georgia swamps, the Negroes told them they were nearly upon Davis's camp.

Early in the morning the first detachment broke camp and started, but was fired upon by Col. Pritchard's Company, which mistook the first party for the enemy killing two men. The fire was returned, killing two and wounding two. Both companies then closed in on the Davis camp. Mr. Leonard obtained a good look at the Confederate president and described him as tall and thin and far from handsome. The sum of $294 was paid Mr. Leonard for his share of the reward money for capturing Davis.

Horse Shot Under Him

Mr. Leonard took part in a charge made by companies A, F and M of his regiment at a place called Burnt Hickory against the rebels in which his horse was shot under him.

In 1867 Mr. Leonard crossed the plains of Salt Lake City, in the days of Brigham Young, whom he heard preach in the tabernacle when it was filled to its utmost capacity. From here he went 400 miles north into Montana in search of gold.

Having returned to New York State in 1881, he married Lida M. Harvey, who passed away in1928. Seven sons and daughters are now [still] living, with 26 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Mrs. Emiline Wallace was a half-sister of Mr. Leonard's. Mr. Leonard had worked as a colporter for 35 years and until his health failed him, was accustomed to write a letter or card every day of the year.

Submitted by Sue Cross, Town of Mansfield Historian


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