I don't think that's what happened!
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"I don't think that's what happened!" , although true, is not intended to be offensive. It's intended to attract attention and hopefully get you more help than I can give you.
I would take a really hard look at "Never returned home-family thought he was killed in the war". I think he did.
The desertion charge was likely not all that bad-he was returned to the same unit. More of a blot on his record that a really black mark.
The 116th IL was at the Grand Review at DC in May and mustered out at DC 7 June. Here's where someone can help!
I think they were immediately loaded, as a unit, on a train home.