Mahana, John B.
Age: 0, credited to Benson, VT
Unit(s): 4th MI CAV
Service: 4th MI CAV
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: 07/19/1843, Benson, VT
Burial: Fairview Cemetery, Benson, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Susan Brown
Findagrave Memorial #: 0
(There may be a Findagrave Memorial, but we have not recorded it)
Alias?: None noted
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)
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Fairview Cemetery, Benson, VT
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Personal ExperiencesBenson Man Helped Capture Jeff Davis
Dr. Mahana Thinks He Is Sole Survivor
of Yankee Band to Enter Ocmulgee Swamp
Dr. John B. Mahana of Benson, who claims to be the only living man who was present at the capture of Jefferson Davis in the forests of the Ocmulgee swamp, Ga., in April 1865, has recently written a description of that capture which broke up the confederacy.
Dr. Mahana was a private in Company H, Fourth Michigan cavalry at the time. Born and brought up in Benson, he went to Michigan shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, and enlisted from that state. He has now returned to Benson to spend his last days.
A few months ago, a man living in New York claimed that he was the only one living who was present when Davis was taken. This man has since died, however, and Dr. Mahana says that, "As near as I can learn, I am the last living participant, who reached the Davis camp in the Ocmulgee woods."
Rode With Davis
Dr. Mahana was privileged to be assigned to guard duty over a tent next to the one occupied by Davis, prior to his capture, after the Michigan troops had quietly surrounded the camp in the night, and, after Davis was taken, he was one of those assigned to ride in the wagon with the captured man and prevent his escape.
The bulk of the doctor's story is history; an account of a forced march of 46 hours from Macon, Ga., to the Ocmulgee river, the crossing of the stream by 100 men left of the 412 who started, the others having dropped out on the march, the surrounding of the Davis camp and the subsequent capture of the southerner.
From his post of vantage, Dr. Mahana overheard the whole conversation leading up to the capture of Davis. His tent, as well as his camp, was surrounded by federal troopers. A sergeant, so the doctor's story goes, received orders to rout Davis out and, in reply to the former's call to come out, he was answered by a woman.
"Woman" Wore Spurs
This proved to be Mrs. Davis and in a few moments she came from the tent with an old woman, whom she called mother and asked to go to the brook of water. A federal soldier, however, saw the gleam of spurs under the aged woman's skirt and so Davis' ruse was discovered and he and his retinue were taken.
Dr. Mahana says: "The only thing Davis had on of women's attire was a veil tied over his own small felt hat. He had his own dressing robe and officer's poncho, folded like a shawl, and he really did look like a little old woman as he hurried away from the tent.
Dr. Mahana concludes his narrative by saying that: "Soon after the capture, the confederacy and its camp were broken and enroute north and in place of the "mansion of state" to which President Davis had aspired, his home was a large covered wagon, with a yankee sentinel inside with him and his family."Source: From a newspaper clipping at the Benson, Vt. Museum believed to have been published in White River Junction, Vt. Thursday, September 23, 1920; Barry Trutor, who contributed this article, is searching for corroboration.
See also The Capture of Jefferson Davis"