John Broad’s Second Act


Shot in the arm and face, then left for dead “I came to life Sunday night… exposed to mosquito bites, my throat aching for a drink of water, and blind.” Found by another Lansingite named Steve Longyear, John Broad, lost an eye, was completely blind for five months and took several more to recover from the Battle of Seven Pines in Fair Oaks, Virginia May 31, 1862. Longyear began the rejuvenation of his friend offering him “cold water from the swamp.”

Gliding in and out of consciousness for days he aroused briefly at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, became comatose, then awakened again packed in ice at the New York Military Hospital on David’s Island in Long Island Sound. Doctors expended the bulk of their resources on those they believed would survive; Broad in his state received little medical attention before this. He recovered, rejoining his unit in time to participate in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

An Elderly John Broad

Born in Cornwall England May 15, 1832 Broad came to the U.S. at the age of 20. He filed naturalization papers in Paw Paw, Michigan in 1855. In 1858 he came to Lansing, married Charlotte Sherman in 1859, bought property and built a home on North Cedar Street soon after. Despite a wife and new child in 1861 he enlisted in Company G, Third Michigan infantry. He was one of two Lansing men from the Third to return.

After the war Broad became a local celebrity. He worked for years as a porter in the State Capitol building. Outliving his wife by seven years he died at the age of 83, in the home he built and spent 50 years after originally being “killed.” The bullet that blinded him was still lodged in his head.

Sources Consulted
Lansing State Journal (September 4, 1915)
Lansing State Journal (February 15, 1919)
The Man Who Died Twice (Lansing Metropolitan Quarterly/Winter 1986)
Pioneer History of Ingham County By Mrs. Franc Adams
Lansing Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1913
Lansing City Directory, 1915
Images from the Capital Area District Libraries’ Special Collections

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