Friday, September 07, 2007

William Bennett

William Bennett was born 1833 in England.

William eventually immigrated to the United States, settling in western Michigan.

He stood 5’10” with gray eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion and was a 37-year-old farmer possibly living in Ronald, Ionia County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company E on January 27, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the same day, crediting Ronald. (Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.)

He joined the Regiment on February 10, and was present for duty through April. He was reportedly wounded in the back of the neck by a shell fragment during action at the North Anna River, Virginia, on or about May 27, 1864. In any case, he was apparently serving with the regiment and was transferred to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was reported absent sick from June 12, 1864, and then again through October and indeed through the spring of 1865.

In fact, William was admitted to Lincoln General Hospital in Washington, DC, on June 15, and was treated for a contusion of the lumbar region, reportedly as a result of being wounded on June 1 at Cold Harbor, Virginia. He was transferred on July 28, to the general hospital in York, Pennsylvania, where he arrived the following day. He stated at the time that “he was injured by a tree falling upon him before Petersburg, Va., the beginning of June”. However, the examining physician noted that William “pretends to be unable to maintain the erect position, [yet there is] no evidence of any injury.” William was subsqeuently furloughed from the hospital on November 1, readmitted on November 22, and then returned to duty on November 28.

He was listed as present at the end of April of 1865, and was mustered out July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war William returned to Michigan and lived for for two or three years in Lowell, Kent County and may have spent some time in Gratiot County as well.

In the early 1880s, possibly around 1883, he moved west, eventually settling in Shelton, Buffalo County, Nebraska, where he worked as a farmer and laborer. By 1885 he was living in Shelton, Nebraska.

He was living in Shelton in 1886 when he applied for a pension (claim no. 564,777) but the certificate was never granted.

William was living in Grand Island (possibly at the State Soldier’s Home), Hall County, Nebraska, when he married his second wife, Mrs. Catharine Hare (b. 1835, widow of Sylvester Hare) on June 2, 1888, in Grand Island.

On July 21, 1891, William was admitted to the Nebraska Hospital for the Insane in Lincoln. On November 30, 1891, George Spencer, a Justice of the peace in Grand island wrote to the pension bureau responding to their inquiry about William Bennett’s pension application. “Sometime ago Mr. Bennett became so feeble that he was wholly past all work & became a public charge & was supported a few days at our Co. poor house & then admitted to our Soldiers Home [in Grand Island]. He became violently insane & was sent to” Lincoln, Nebraska “and is still there with no prospect of recovery. He has a wife something over 50 years of age.”

Indeed, William remained a patient in Lincoln until he died of consumption on February 20, 1892, and was reportedly buried at Grand Island.

His widow applied for a pension (no. 545278), but the certificate was never granted.

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