John Washington Dyer, of Marinette, Wis., member of G. A. R. Post Lyon, No. 266, Menomonee, Mich., was born April 19, 1840, in Wysox, Bradford Co., Pa. He remained in his native St to until he was sixteen years old and received a common school education. His father, John W. Dyer, was born and reared in Hartford, Conn. and he was drowned in Hartford and the son was bound to his uncle. With three comrades, he ran away to Pennsylvania where he married Betsey, E. Holley, a native of the Keystone State of German parentage. John W. Dyer, senior, died when John W., junior was 11 years old, and when the father was suffering from his last illness, word came of the death of his mother, aged 115 years. Mr. Dyer has four brothers and two sisters living. William, his oldest brother, was killed in Pennsylvania when he was 21 years old while blasting rock. Then Mr. Dyer was 16 years old he came to Wisconsin and located at Marinette. October 8, 186l, he enlisted at East Marinette for three years in Company F, 12th Wisconsin Infantry. The regiment event into rendezvous at Madison and left the state Jan. 11, 1862, under orders for Weston, Mo. He went next to Leavenworth, Kas., afterwards to Kansas City, thence to Fort Scott and Lawrence, next to Manhattan and Topeka and to Fort Riley. There the command prepared to proceed to New Mexico, but received orders to go to St. Louis. They went thence to Columbus where they disembarked and repaired railroads and scouted until their arrival at Humboldt, Tenn., whence they were detailed to duty after the battle of Corinth. The regiment was assigned to Grant's command and started for the South, but the disaster at Holly Springs changed all plains. In January, 186e, the command was engaged in guarding the Memphis and Charleston railroad and went thence to Memphis.
After being assigned to the command of McPherson the regiment went to Vicksburg and Mr. Dyer was one of a detail who built a large raft and sent it own the river past Vicksburg, the rebels attacking it with their guns. Soon after they returned and remained in the rear of Vicksburg until the surrender of that city. After the surrender, the regiment went to the Black River, remaining there about two weeks reconnoitering. The regiment went to Natchez to recruit, where Mr. Dyer veteranized and came home on his furlough and was sick with fever and ague and remained home 60 days. He went to Cairo and thence to Nashville, Tenn., and the recruits and veterans were ordered to go to Cairo, but he went in person and informed McPherson that they could not proceed without equipments and he told him to make connection with his regiment at Kingston, Ga., which was done. The action there was in progress and Mr. Dyer stood in line of battle all day. They proceeded thence to Big Shanty, and participated in the action there and at Kennesaw Mountain, where they were in a heavy skirmish from seven in the morning until ten at night. On the next day they took Lost Mountain and on the next night the rebels came up from Marietta to see the Yankees run. In the action of that day Bishop Leonidas Polk was killed and the books of the rebel signal service captured, by which the signal system of the rebels became known to General Sherman.
The following night the rebels returned to Marietta and Mr. Dyer was next in battle at Atlanta and was in hot action all day, on the 21st of July. In the midst of the fighting, McPherson's horse came into the lines with out a rider and turned and whinnied. Mr. Dyer remarked to his comrades that something was the trouble with McPherson. The battle raged heavily and the 12th Wisconsin and an Illinois regiment were detailed to obtain the body of McPherson and the, captured the man who had cut from the General's clothing his shoulder straps and buttons and taken his boots. When they reached the point where the General fell the rebels were dragging him off. The fact became known that the rebels were full of whisky mixed with gunpowder during that action. After Atlanta, the 12th went into the action at Bentonville, from which they drove the rebels and went to Savannah. They besieged the city and after a few days it was evacuated. They went thence on transports to Beaufort, N. C., where General Foster was stationed with 40,000 colored troops and they captured the rebel works with 32 pieces of artillery. They went thence to Charleston and from there to Goldsboro, where they made communication with the fleet and received their rations. They got one piece or hardtack each and abundant rations next day. Here they obtained the news of Lee's surrender and of Lincoln's assassination. When they reached Raleigh, they did so with all understanding, with the rebel, that hostilities on either side should entirely cease, and on the next morning the news of the surrender of Johnston was received. The 12th went to Washington, were a part of the Grand Review, and thence to Louisville, where they remained about two weeks; there John A. Logan made a speech to the command telling them that they would soon be mustered out. They were ordered aboard the cars and traveled two days when Colonel Bright told them they were going home. They reached Madison all dispersed, receiving notification a few days later to return to Madison to receive their pay. While there, they were out one evening sitting peaceably in a beer garden when a robust fellow came in and called them "Sherman's [Black slang]"; he was promptly knocked down and a large force rallied who were served in the same way.
Since the war Mr. Dyer has resided in Marinette. He was married in 1869 to Fannie Roberts of Fond du Lac Co., Wis. One of their six children is deceased. The others are named Alice Adelia, Jessie Ellen, Emma Elizabeth, Freddie Garfield and John Robert. Alzie died when a little more than two years old. The residence of Mr. Dyer is situated in Menekaunee, Wis. October 8, 1871, his property was burned in the great fire of that date.
Mrs. Dyer is the daughter of Richard Roberts, and was born in England, crossing the ocean when six weeks old. Her brother, Richard Roberts was in the same company and regiment as Mr. Dyer, and he was taken prisoner July 21, 1864, in front of Atlanta, sent to Andersonville and was there imprisoned for two months and ten days.