Joshua R. Benson

Joshua R. Benson was born February 1, 1843, in Ontario, New York, possibly the son of James (b. 1809) and the son of Anna.

In 1840 there was a James Benson residing in Canadaigua, Ontario County, New York. New York native James was living in Buffalo’s Fifth Ward, Erie County, New York in 1850 (as was one Allice Benson, b. c. 1790 in New York). By 1860 James H. Benson was working as a laborer, and living with his wife Usiella (?, b. c. 1816) and one Alice Benson, b. c. 1790, in Bingham, Clinton County, Michigan. Also living in Bingham, Clinton County was Joshua’s future wife, Frances Brown.

In any case, Joshua eventually settled in Riley, Clinton County, Michigan where by 1860 he was a farm laborer working for and/or living with John Apthorpe, a farmer in Riley.

Joshua stood 6’0” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 18 years old and probably still living in Riley when he enlisted on May 10, 1861, with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company G. (Interestingly, a JP gave the consent to enlist and not, as one might have expected, his father and/or mother, assuming they were living in Clinton County.)

According to Frank Siverd of Company G, during the first battle of Bull Run, Virginia, on Sunday, July 21, Joshua was taken prisoner, along with one of the Shaft brothers (he does not mention which one) and Oscar Van Wormer, all of Company G. They were captured, wrote Siverd, “by four rebel scouts; they discovered the boys, and they showing too much pluck to be marched into the rebel camp, let them go. It is presumed they made pretty good double quick time from that to camp.”

Indeed, Joshua returned to the Regiment and was present for duty when he was wounded slightly on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia. According to Homer Thayer of Company G, Benson had been wounded but it must have been rather slight since Thayer reports him as already back in camp by June 8.

He was present for duty through most of 1862, and in September and October of 1862, he was reported as on detached duty with the color guard, but had returned to the company by the end of the year.

Joshua remained present for duty and had been promoted to Sergeant by the time he reenlisted on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Courtland, Kent County. He was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

He was slightly wounded in the left arm on May 12 or 13, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia, and subsequently absent sick in the hospital. He soon rejoined his Regiment and was transferred as First Sergeant to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant on November 2, commissioned September 18, replacing Lieutenant Daniel Kennicutt, and in February of 1865 promoted to First Lieutenant, commissioned November 29, 1864, replacing Lieutenant Murray. Joshua was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Joshua returned to Michigan and probably settled back in Clinton County where he married New York native Frances M. Brown (b. 1848) on November 19, 1865, in Dewitt, Clinton County, and they at least one child: Alice (b. 1866. (Frances was probably living with her grandparents, Benjamin and Phebe in Bingham, Clinton County in 1860.) They were living in Dewitt, Clinton County in 1866 when their daughter was born.

Around 1867 Joshua moved his family to northern Michigan settling in or near Inland, Benzie County. By 1870 Joshua was working as a farmer (he owned some $1000 worth of real estate) and living with his wife and daughter in Blair, Grand Traverse County. (In 1870 there were two young teachers named Sophy and Mary Benson, both born in Michigan living with the William Roberts family in Dewitt, Clinton County.)

Joshua was living in Blair when he died of typhoid fever on June 25, 1871, and he was presumably buried in Blair.

When Joshua died his father’s residence was listed as Clinton County.

His widow had remarried one Mr. Morrell or Murrell by 1880 when she applied for a pension (no. 280268) on behalf of her child, but the certificate was apparently never granted.