Monday, December 29, 2008

Benjamin F. Hammond

Benjamin F. Hammond was born in 1842 in Vermont or Ohio, the son of Sylvester (b. 1807) and Eliza (b. 1809).

New York native Sylvester married Vermonter Eliza and settled in Vermont where they resided for some years. His family moved from Vermont to Ohio and by 1850 they were living in Orwell, Ashtabula County where Sylvester worked as a laborer (he owned some $650 worth of real estate) and Ben attended school with his siblings. The family moved on to Michigan sometime between 1858 and 1860 when Benjamin was working as a farm hand, attending school and living with his family in Locke, Ingham County where his father operated a large farm.

Benjamin stood 5’7” with hazel eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 19 years old and working as a farm hand probably living in Locke when he enlisted with his parents’ consent in Company G on May 10, 1861. (His cousin James Hammond enlisted in Company D and he may also have been related to George Hammond and Marshall Hammond, both members of Company D.)

According to Homer Thayer of Company G, Benjamin was wounded slightly at the battle of Second Bull Run on August 29, 1862, and subsequently absent sick in the hospital until March of 1863. He eventually rejoined the Regiment and reenlisted on December 24 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Locke. He was presumably absent on 30-days’ veterans furlough in January of 1864, probably at his parents’ home in Michigan, and quite likely returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

Benjamin was unhappy about the bounties paid to the soldiers for reenlisting, and on March 10, 1864, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Lansing State Republican in which he discussed

the bounties which should be paid to the Third Regiment, by which it appears that some members of that Regiment think they are liable to lose their just dues through the dishonesty of some interested persons. We will let the writer present his statement in his own words:

“The head of the War Department issued an order to the effect that all reenlisting men should be credited to their several States on the call of 300,000 men, and should be entitled to the local bounties. Of course they should look after these local affairs themselves, as it was evident from another order emanating from the same source, giving the men the express privilege of crediting themselves where they chose, or where they could get the largest bounties. All men could not take the advantage of this while at home on furlough, for the last mentioned order did not appear, until after several Regiments had returned to the field. Now, Co. G, 3d Regiment Michigan Volunteer Infantry was back to the seat of war before we were aware that such an order existed. They tried while at home to be credited, or to credit themselves somewhere. They were told that they would have to go back and get a certificate from their officers stating that they had not been credited anywhere else, before they could be credited even to the town in which they formerly lived. There the matter rested until we got back. When we asked for a certificate, we were told there would be some blanks along in a few days for us. They did come in a few days, but to our amazement they showed to us that we were already credited to the city of Lansing.

“However, as the whole Company was going to the same place, we unmurmuringly submitted. Now we are told that because we were not assigned to some ward in the city, we cannot get any bounty at all, either city or ward. And it is too late now to remedy the matter, for the city has filled her quota, each ward has filled its quota, or will before the matter can be adjusted. Perhaps I do not understand the matter, but if I do not, the whole company are deceived, for it looks to them and to me as if we are going to find ourselves minus a local bounty when we know the truth. And who is to blame for this, I would like to know? Perhaps the officers thought to do us a favor by crediting us as they did; but why do even that, in direct opposition to orders form the War Department when we had the express privilege of going where we chose? And did they think us incapable of doing for ourselves, a little thing like that? The Lieutenant told us that he saw two or three responsible men of Lansing who pledged themselves that, that city would pay as large a bounty as any other city or town, and now we understand that after they had got the credit of all the veterans they could, and had nearly filled their quota, before the certificates could be presented the bounty was cut down to $100 per man.

“This is not all. Since we came back, or rather since we were sold, the Legislature at Lansing has passed an act authorizing an additional fifty dollars State bounty to certain persons “providing they are credited where they are registered, to the place where they formerly lived,” or “where they lived previous to enlisting.” The case is plain enough. Many, and in fact nearly all of the men in this Company are residents of other towns, and some of other counties, so that without fraud or deceit they [would] not get this’” additional bounty. Furthermore, he argued, “‘our friends whom we shall entreat with collecting the bounties, it is a great deal of trouble to go from ten to thirty miles after it, perhaps making two or three journey's, and then not get as much as they might at home in their own towns.”

The State Republican replied to these “charges” by saying, first, that “The apprehension of the soldiers that their officers, or some other persons, are to make gain out of their bounties by sharp management, are without any foundation.

No such thing can be done. If any bounty money shall be paid, or bounty orders issued, they will go to the soldier on his order. The person paying the money or issuing the order cannot lawfully deliver to any other person.

2. We suppose the Third Regiment reenlisted before the Act of the last Legislature was passed, granting the fifty dollars State bounty to reenlisting veterans. If son, and there was no retrospective cause, they cannot be paid a State bounty under a State law which did not exist at the time of their reenlistment. It was probably an oversight in framing the law, which can only be remedied by a future act.

3. As to those who were supposed to be credited to the city of Lansing, we can only say that the credits are not fully and finally determined; but our impression is that they will be needed to fill out the quota under the new call, and will be received for that purpose. But there is a great diversity of opinion respecting action on bounty laws, even among the best informed; and our opinion could be worthless. But we can assure the soldiers of the gallant Third of this one thing, that there is not a feeling among our citizens which would intentionally wrong them or permit them to be wronged by others.

Benjamin was reported absent in May of 1864, and was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.

He eventually rejoined the Fifth Michigan and was killed in action on June 16, 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia. He was presumably buried among the unknown soldiers at Petersburg.

No pension seems to be available.

In 1870 his parents were still living on a farm (his father owned some $4000 worth of real estate) in Locke.

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