George Painter was born on April 2, 1842 to Hamilton and Matilda Painter. He grew up on a farm in Richland County, Ohio. He was named for his father’s brother. George had five brothers and one sister and the family attended the local Methodist Episcopal Church.
When the call for volunteers came in 1862, George and two of his brothers enlisted and were soon sent to Cincinnati to begin their time of service. Nearly 320,000 Union soldiers came from Ohio.
During the winter of 1862, the Mississippi Marine Brigade was being formed in the St. Louis area by General Alfred Ellet. Finding enough recruits to man the ships became a problem, so he went to the hospitals in the area to find convalescing patients who would be strong enough to manage ships on the Mississippi River.
George had been in the hospital with typhoid fever and the promise of not having to march daily, carry knapsacks, or sleep in trenches must have encouraged him to join the brigade.
As he traveled down the Mississippi River and its tributaries, George wrote daily of what was happening on the boat and sometimes in the war.