During a 2005 renovation of the north wall of the Old Commissary, the National Park Service work crew discovered a 100-pound stone with "J H Mc LAUGHLIN CO B 3 RGT" etched on its top side. This stone, which had been hidden since the building was completed in 1866, revealed an interesting individual.
It turns out that the graffiti artist was John H. McLaughlin, a private in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, Company B. That his name appears on the stone suggests that he was involved in building the structure, suggesting soldiers participated in its construction. McLaughlin placed the stone at the top, face up, so that the roof would cover the carvings, suggesting that although he wanted to leave his mark, he did not want to get caught; he must have known the hazards of defacing government property. His stone is one of the rare examples of soldiers leaving graffiti behind.
Who was John McLaughlin? His military records reveal an extraordinary life.
John Henry McLaughlin was born June 22, 1826 in
McLaughlin changed plans and went to
The Civil War pulled McLaughlin into military service. He joined the United States Navy and was assigned to the "USS Virginia." For unknown reasons, he was transferred to the "USS Ida." The "Ida" was assisting other ships taking of seaports in
After his discharge, McLaughlin had trouble finding work, so he enlisted in the Army. McLaughlin was assigned to Company B, 3rd Infantry Regiment, and posted to
John McLaughlin's career in the army spanned 12 years. In 1870, he transferred to the 6th Cavalry, and re-enlisted with the 8th Cavalry in 1874.
McLaughlin recalled his most terrifying experience fighting Indians while carrying dispatches with five others to another post. "We were attacked by about 130 Indians, we made breastwork out of our horses and when forced back we took cover behind two of our fallen comrades who had just been killed. When all hope was lost, we were saved by the arrival of another troop of Cavalry."
McLaughlin retired from the army in 1877 and lived an active life to the end, attending reunions and lodge meetings. Others remembered he was the center of attention. John H. McLaughlin died on October 6, 1907 at 4:30 pm at
Last updated: April 10, 2015