My 3rd great grandfather Thomas JOHNSON was born on the 3rd day of the 1st month of the year 1794 (for us, this is 3 January 1794). He was the first child of devout Quakers Anderson and Sarah (BROOKS) JOHNSON. I wrote about Thomas and his wife Rachel (nee´ JOHNSON) earlier this year.
A Thomas Johnson enlisted in the U.S. Army on 15 October 1813 during the War of 1812 (1). Thomas Johnson is a common name, but this particular 19 year old fits the birth and residence locations of my Thomas.
This Thomas Johnson deserted five days later.
My Thomas Johnson was a member of the Society of Friends (Quaker). Quakers were pacifists and were opposed to taking up arms in battle.
I have this vision of my Thomas running home and telling his mom and dad that he enlisted, and their response was “WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU THINKING???” (Thomas would not marry Rachel until 1818.) Or perhaps one of his siblings told on him (they were all under age). Or perhaps he ran away to enlist. Wouldn’t I have liked to have been a fly on the wall during that family meeting?
Given his religious background, which he maintained into his adulthood, what would make him enlist in the first place?
My Quaker ancestors Thomas and Rachel (JOHNSON) JOHNSON moved in 1840 to Indiana because of their opposition to slavery and to war.
Religious Freedom is a right upon which this nation was founded. My Quaker ancestors suffered greatly for attempting to exercise their religious freedom. I may never know why Thomas enlisted nor what made him desert. When the records of the War of 1812 become more accessible, I look forward to seeing if I can find more information on this event in my “almost a veteran”‘s life.
1. Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, compiled 1798 – 1914. NARA M233. Roll 7. Record Group 94. Registrant 1849. Accessed on Fold3.com (<http://www.fold3.com/image/310834552/>).