After training at La Crosse and Camp Randall, Wisconsin, he was sent first to Minnesota to quell an Indian uprising, and then south to fight the Southern rebels.
Throughout his wartime service, he wrote many letters to his 13-year-old neighbor Mary ENGLESBY back in Wisconsin starting out with the words "Well Mary ...". Those letters began in 1863 and continued to June, 1865, when he returned home.
Mary kept every one of John's letters. Although his first letters to Mary were merely to a young daughter to a friend of the family, their trust and affection grew. And by the time John returned home, after three years, he and Mary were engaged to be married! What is also amazing, as a parallel, is that their frequent letters flowed back and forth so freely, what with the wartime troop movements and the poor and overloaded transportation system.
John's farm was located in German Valley, about two miles west-southwest of the town of Gilmanton, Buffalo County, Wisconsin. He bought 40 acres the Dec 10, 1867. He sold the farm to Peter Aesau about 1893-1894. The farm was probably close to the ENGLESBY farm. He then bought a new farm on the north side of Mondovi, Wisconsin.
John died in 1917, but Mary lived to be 93, and died in 1943. Her family remembers her taking the letters out of the box and reading them with the stories of battles, marches, prisons, and rebs. After her death, her letters lay in the box, forgotten, in the home of a daughter, they were found nearly fifteen years later. With the help of the University of Wisconsin Press, the family copied the frail, faded script and compiled the letters into a love story more moving than most fiction.