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History The Civil War War Along the Bryant


War Along The Bryant

John Hutchison: Missouri's Last Civil War Veteran
by Inell McMillon

When Americans think of war, they think of soldiers fighting in foreign countries. What if war meant fighting in your own backyard? That's what happened to John Hutchison. He saw three Confederate soldiers kill his uncle in a field near his home on Pond Fork Creek in Ozark County. This caused him to enlist in the 46th Missouri Infantry in September 1864. 


He was just 17, but he lied about his age so they would let him join the Union Army. He was assigned to Company I that had special orders to defend the border between Missouri and Arkansas where Confederate raids had increased. That's how John Hutchison found himself fighting a war in his own neighborhood. 

Years later, John talked about his experiences in the Civil War. Asked to compare modern warfare with the Civil War, he replied, "I hear the youngsters talk about their problems with shrapnel and these new-fangled weapons, but we had just as much trouble with cannon and muskets. The trouble with those old single ball muskets--a man was just as well off in front of them as behind them. You never knew which way they were going to shoot."

Although John was never in any major battles, patrolling the border was a dangerous task. Once when Company I encountered three men riding across a field and "took out after them," they saw that one of the men was wearing a Federal coat. When they got "right up on them, the fellow with the Federal coat (he had a Confederate uniform on underneath it) turned and fired..." One of the Federal soldiers was hit in the side, but all three of the Confederates were killed. 

John said of his war experience, "War today is not any worse or better than it was back in 1864. It's all bad. You wade in mud and water up to your neck and then, after it's all over, you don't know why you went." 

On March 12, 1951, the State of Missouri designated John Hutchison Missouri's Last Civil War Veteran. He died on March 18, 1951, just four days after his 104th birthday. He was buried in Isabella Cemetery on March 24, 1951.

Inell McMillon is a retired history teacher, originally from the St. Louis area, who now lives and writes in Theodosia. Mike Thorson, a well known military artist, created the illustration.

Sources: Springfield Leader & Press; Springfield News & Leader,March 1951. A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region,Goodspeed Bros., Chicago, 1894, pp. 724-725.

The John Hutchison Memorial Fund raised money for a new tombstone for his grave and an historic marker. The illustration you see here is etched on the tombstone with an outline of the state of Missouri and  the words, "Missouri's Last Civil War Veteran". 

Hutchison Memorial Ceremony