Monday, September 10, 2007

William W. Bennett

William W. Bennett was born August 14, 1839, in Washington County, New York, the son of Morris (b. 1812) and Mary (Winnie, b. 1808).

New York natives Morris and Mary were married presumably in New York where they resided for many years. The family moved from New York to Michigan sometime after 1854 and by 1860 William was living with his family and working as a farm laborer in Wyoming, Kent County.

William W. stood 5’8” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 21 years old and probably living in Wyoming when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. (Company B was made up largely of men from the Grand Rapids area, many of whom had served in various local militia units before the war, in particular the Grand Rapids Artillery, under Captain Baker Borden, who would also command Company B.) He may have been related to James D. Bennett, who lived on the west side of the Grand River and who also enlisted in Company B. Also, James had served in the GRA before the war.

William was present for duty from January of 1862 through June of 1863, and awarded the Kearny Cross for his service during the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 3, 1863.

William was treated for a headache on May 16 and 17, 1863, and returned to duty. He was quite possibly a Corporal when, while en route to New York City with the regiment, he was struck down with dysentery and was admitted to Grace Church (Second Division General) hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, on August 16, 1863, suffering from chronic diarrhea.

He apparently remained hospitalized until, after being examined by a Medical Board, he was transferred to an unassigned (possibly the Second Batallion) detachment of the Veterans’ Reserve Corps with chronic diarrhea on March 4, 1864. (The VRC was made up of men who while ambulatory were generally incapable of performing regular military tasks due to having suffered debilitating wounds and/or diseases and were assigned to garrison the many supply depots, draft rendezvous, camps, forts, prisons, etc. scattered throughout the northern cities, thus freeing able-bodied men for regular military duty.) He later claimed that he was discharged on June 9, 1864 (which would have coincided with the end of his term of service of three years), at Washington, DC.

In any case, William was apparently been discharged from the army for dysentery, eventually returned to his home in Grand Rapids where he reentered the service in Company A, Tenth Michigan cavalry on February 11, 1865, for one year, crediting Walker and was mustered on February 15.

He joined the Regiment on March 16 at Knoxville, Tennessee, and possibly participated in Stoneman’s expedition into east Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and west North Carolina from March 21-April 25; the regiment was on duty at Lenoir and Sweetwater, Tennessee from about May until August and in west Tennessee until November. William was mustered out with the regiment on November 11, 1865, at Memphis,Tennessee.

After the war William returned to Michigan. His parents had settled in Alpine Township, Kent County sometime before 1870 and by 1880 William had returned to his family and was working as a laborer and living with his parents in Alpine. William was living in Alpine in 1890 and in 1907 and at RFD no. 7, Box 33, Grand Rapids in 1909 and in Alpine in 1912.

William apparently never married.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. In 1891 he applied for and received pension no. 881,777, drawing $30.00 per month by 1917.

William was living at RFD No. 1, Comstock Park, just outside of Grand Rapids when he died of arteriosclerosis on August 15, 1917, in Alpine and was buried in Pine Grove cemetery, Alpine Township.

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