| 8th MO Infantry (US)
Private John O'Dea was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1839. He joined Company D
of the 8th MO Volunteer Infantry (US) in St. Louis, Missouri on 14 June 1861.
He was a member of the storming party known as the "Forlorn Hope"; which attempted to breach the Rebel works at Vicksburg, Mississippi on 22 May 1863. This costly attack proved to be General Ulysses S. Grant's last attempt to take Vicksburg by storm; thereafter, Grant reverted to siege.   Storming a fortification known as Fort Pemberton "in a dead run" with a scaling ladder on his back, John O'Dea was struck in the thigh with a bullet. The bullet was prevented from piercing his flesh by a pocket knife which, however, opened and struck his groin.
Later, pinned down by the enemy, O'Dea attempted to use his rifle to stop a shell hand grenade (thrown from the Rebel works) from rolling down on himself and his comrades. The grenade exploded, knocking him senseless and blowing the rifle from his hand. Eyewitness accounts of the action are provided by a comrade-in-arms and the Company Commander.
Despite a painful wound that never healed properly, and near deafness caused by the grenade blast, John O'Dea, in the words of his Commander "participated in most if not all the battles of the Army of the Tennessee under Generals Grant and Sherman, from Forts Henry and Donelson to Missionary Ridge and the advance on Atlanta, and always with honor to himself and a profit to the service..."
John O'Dea was one of 11 members of the 8th Missouri to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor after the Siege of Vicksburg.
The above information comes to us from John O'Dea's descendant: Joe Henggler, and from "Deeds Of Valor".
THE FOLLOWING BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF JOHN O'DEA WAS WRITTEN BY TOM O'DEA, AND IS
EXCERPTED FROM THE O'DEA FAMILY GENEALOGY FORUM ON WWW.GENEALOGY.COM:
There was a true O'Dea hero living in Southern Illinois in the late 1800's.
John O'Dea, Private of Co. D 8th Regiment Missouri Volunteer Infantry, won the Medal of Honor for actions at the Seige of Vicksburg in May 1863. He left the Army due to wounds received at Vicksburg and elsewhere. An extensive pension record exists of John at the National Archives.
John was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1839 and joined the 8th Missouri on June 14, 1861. He saved some comrades who were pinned down by rebel fire in the assault on Ft. Pemberton at Vicksburg in May 1863. A nearby shell exploding cost him his hearing in 1 ear. He also suffered a groin injury from which he never fully recovered.
After the war he resided in Bloomington, IL. He married and had 3 children. He was a blacksmith in Bloomington. John O'Dea died at the Old Soldiers Home in Quincy, IL on July 2, 1905.
(This is from notes I took from original documents in his pension record
at the Natl Archives some years ago.)
According to www.findagrave.com, John O'Dea is buried in Sunset
Cemetery in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. His plot is in
Division 8, Row 4.