Heyer, Oliver Walter
Age: 18, credited to St. Johnsbury, VTVITALS
Birth: 09/24/1842, New Bedford, MAADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, St. Johnsbury, VT
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Oliver W. Heyer
Born in Mattapoisett, Mass. Son of Walter J. Heyer. Resided in St. Johnsbury at the beginning of the war. Enlisted in Company C, 3d Regiment, June 1, 1861, at the age of eighteen years. Mustered into United States service July 16, 1861. On the return of the army from the mishaps of the Peninsula, and when it was between Fairfax Court House and Alexandria, Heyer, as he says, unable to march, fell out of the ranks, and soon found his way to Washington; and, though reported, in the records of the Regiment, as deserting August 31, '62, declares that he never intended to desert, and only wished to serve out his term under more favorable circumstances. He could not endure long marches.
In Washington, meeting with an acquaintance -- an officer of the 16th Eastern Virginia Regiment -- recruiting for the defence of Washington, and after informing him of his leaving the 3d Vermont, and the circumstances, yielded to his solicitations, and enlisted. He remained with this Regiment nine months, when it was disbanded. the officers of the 3d Vermont were cognizant of his whereabouts, yet did not treat him as a deserter, or attempt to disturb his connection with the 16th Virginia. He was with the Regiment in the engagements at Lewinsville, Lee's Mills, Warwick Creek, Williamsburg, Golding's Farm, Savage Station and White Oak Swamp.
After the discharge of the 16th Virginia Regiment, Heyer, on the 15th of June, 1863, enlisted at Philadelphia, in the naval service, and went on board the Frigate Wabash, and did service on this vessel until he was taken prisoner at Fort Sumter, August 8th, 1863. Escaping two days later he served upon the supply ship Massachusetts, engaged in transporting provisions from Philadelphia to the blockading fleet before Charleston. He then, for a few weeks, was in the school of Instruction at Washington, D.C. He again went to sea, on board the United States steamer Iroquois, at Baltimore, and to France, England, West Coast of Africa, to Brazil, China, Hindoostan, and home by way of the West Indies, having, during a cruise of a little less than sixteen months, visited 49 different ports, and traveled 43,321 miles.
While on board the Wabash he participated in the attack under Admiral Dahlgren, upon Fort Sumter, and with 139 others, was taken prisoner in Fort Sumter. The captives were taken to Sullivan Island. Not relishing the prospect of prison life before him, with two other unfortunates, he sought for a way of escape. Having passed the sentry unobserved in the early evening of the 9th, they made their way slowly, some times upon hands an d knees, and under projecting banks, towards an inlet visited by night by the picket boats of the squadron. They slept under the tops of fallen trees in the daytime, but the next night reached the inlet. Finding boards there they constructed a raft and in the darkness floated out to sea upon on outflowing tide -- luckily finding of the the boats they were seeking -- when the rejoined the squadron, after an absence of some forty-eight hours. Fearing a possibly recapture if they continued with the squadron, or rather, the consequence of such an event, the three escaped captive were allowed to enter more peaceful service upon the supply boat Massachusetts. After the events already narrated, and on the 12th day of October, 1865, Heyer was discharged from United States service.
Source: Albert G. Chadwick, compiler, Soldiers Record of the Town of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-5,(C. M. Stone & Co., St. Johnsbury, VT., 1883), pp. 80-81