John Benson was born on October 22, 1831, in Michigan, the son of John Benson and Lorena Hollis.
John was married and had at least one child: Alice (b. 1859).
In 1860 Alice, listed as “Allie” was living with Catharine Niles, a schoolteacher in Portland, Ionia County, and her son Jay. That same year John may have been the same “John Benson” living at the Douglas Hotel in Bingham, Clinton County, Michigan, and working as a telegraph superintendent. Also living in Bingham was a day laborer named James Benson, b. 1809 in New York, and his wife.
John was 29 years old and probably living in Portland, Ionia County when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.) He is not found in the 1905 3rd Michigan Regimental history, but he is in the 1905 Regimental history for the 27th Michigan (see below).
He was absent sick in the hospital in August of 1862, and from September 11, 1862, through February of 1863 was on recruiting service in Michigan. While in Michigan he was seeking a commission in one of the Regiments then forming in that state, and on November 14, 1862, Major Moses Houghton of the 3rd Michigan and the former captain of Company D, wrote to Michigan Governor Austin Blair. “Permit me,” he wrote, “to call your attention to John Benson a Sergeant of Company D. . . . He has been in the service from the first organization of the Regt filling various positions in the company, with credit to himself and to his Company. We therefore commend him to your consideration for commission in one of the Regiments formed or to be formed in Michigan.” Colonel Stephen Champlin commanding the 3rd Michigan and Lieutenant Colonel Byron Pierce both approved Houghton’s recommendation.
On January 15, 1863, Colonel D. M. Fox, commanding the 27th Michigan infantry wrote to Colonel Smith at Detroit that “Sergeant John Benson has been recommended . . . for a lieutenancy. The governor has referred the matter to me. I can give him the position of Sergeant Major now, which will soon place him in a position to obtain a commission as the governor and his superior officers desire.”
In fact, John was transferred to the 27th Michigan infantry on January 24 or 25, 1863, at Grand Ledge, Eaton County where he enlisted for 3 years, and was mustered on February 24 at Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County. The regiment was organized at Port Huron, Ovid and Ypsilanti and mustered into service on April 10, 1863. The 27th left Michigan for Kentucky on April 12.
John was soon promoted to Sergeant Major of Company G, then Second Lieutenant of Company B in May, commissioned April 30. The regiment participated in the siege and capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi in June and July of 1863. John was transferred to Company E and was “commanding the camp” in August. The regiment participated in numerous actions throughout eastern Tennessee during the second half of 1863, including the pursuit of Longstreet and the Knoxville campaign. In late March of 1864 it was transferred to the Army of the Potomac and arrived just in time to participate in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and North Anna in May of 1864.
By May of 1864 John was First Lieutenant of Company I, commissioned March 1, and then commissioned Regimental Quartermaster on April 20, 1864. He was serving with the supply train of the Third Division, Ninth army Corps, from June through August of 1864, and was mustered out with the regiment at the Delaney House, DC, on July 21, 1865. After the war John returned home to Michigan.
He married his second wife Michigan native and widow Mrs. Ellen Chipman Newman (1838-1878) in Clinton County on November 11, 1866, and they had at least two children: Mary (b. 1867) and Blanche (b. 1871). Her husband Edgar had died in Portland, Ionia County in 1862.
By 1870 John was working as a carpenter and living with his wife Ellen and daughters Alice and Mary in Portland, Ionia County; also living with them was Ellen’s son by her first marriage, Julien Newman (1859-1922). By 1880 he had settled in Mason County and was a widower working as a farmer and living with his three daughters in Eden. He was living in Eden in 1890 and 1894 -- nearby lived John Marsh, Sr. who had served in Company E. He was still living in Eden in 1900; also living with him was his daughter Mrs. Alice Bidwell and her three children.
John was living in Michigan in 1890 when he applied for and received a pension (no. 567565).
John was a widower when he died at his home on section 7 in Eden on Saturday morning, June 27, 1903, of arteriosclerosis. He was buried in Lakeside cemetery, Eden Township.