The 20th Battery, Indiana Light Artillery was a different kind of unit as the infantry fighting boys. Organized in Indianapolis on September 19, 1862, men from ten different Indiana counties served together. Not many were from Montgomery, but John R. Britton was one. Often, his name is found John P. Britton, but his death record is clear that the middle initial is an R and other records indicate the same.
An interesting tidbit I could not crack in the short time allotted (maybe some day) one article I found stated his grandfather, Nathaniel fought in the War of 1812 at age 14. He’d be more like 40, but here definitely was a Nathan Britton who fought that could be him and Nathaniel received bounty land listing his captain as William Blair. Brittons were early Montgomery County settlers. In fact, there are four John Brittons alone buried in Montgomery County, two in Oak Hill. Oddly, the other John Britton had been getting the flag that should be our Civil War soldier’s. This John died in 1883 and his wife, Sarah Sparks burned to death in a fatal accident at her home in 1892. Kim and Suzy have that straightened out now and John R. Britton will be receiving one on Decoration Day. See photo.
The 20th was organized in Indianapolis on September 19, 1862 and discharged not long after the end of the war (in late June at Chattanooga). Soldiers from Decatur, Hamilton, Jay, Kosciusko, Marion, Porter, Putnam, Shelby, Wayne and our own dear Montgomery made up the group. Of course, the artillery would be positioned somewhat away from the actual fighting and more behind the scene, but I still found it amazing they only lost 25 during their close to three years service, plus no officers’ deaths. They were in two major battles at least, that of Jonesboro and Nashville, and aided in the seige of Atlanta. Actually, they spent the majority of their time in the Nashville area. Then again, the reader needs to keep in mind it wasn’t easy lugging those huge cannons around and setting them up. The loading alone of the cannons was quite a feat.
There may have been some recruits (without checking the 35-40 individually as in the official list they are only named) from Montgomery but the official, original roster listed but a few, William Campbell; James Lindell; Martin Lerten; James F. Boots and Robert Montgomery who eventually deserted.
John Briton’s father was Nathan as well as gpa, too. Mother was Catherine Welliver, as all readers will know, a deep-rooted Montgomery family. A brick mason, John worked at that labor for many years, but in the last census he is shown in, he worked at the Match factory. Born June 19, 1842, assumedly in Montgomery County, he received his education in the early schools, fought in a war of horrors barely a man, and returned home to work his trade. He was 38 years old when he married a widow woman with children, Mary Louise Reynolds Mitchell. They lived together 24 years, Mary living yet another 20 beyond, being cared for by her grandchildren, as was John. In fact, John passed away of uremic poisoning at the home of his step grandson, Herb Chapman, 109 E. Franklin at 5 in the evening on April 15, 1914. So, this year marked the 104th year without a tombstone, but now, thanks to Kim and Suzi, John R. Britton is now Etched In Stone!
Over the coming weeks and months I will write these columns highlighting each new stone. Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. And she writes Around the County, which appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County. One by One: Etched in Stone is her latest offering and will appear periodically on Mondays in The Paper.