Clark Mountain Musings

Friday, December 30, 2005

WILLIAM Plummer BENTON (1828 - 1867)

Union brigadier general, led a regiment at Pea Ridge and Vicksburg.

His signature. General Benton is the namesake of the fort.

BENTON, WILLIAM PLUMMER was born at New Market, Maryland, on December 25, 1828. When he was eight years old his widowed mother moved the family to Richmond, Indiana. At the outbreak of the Mexican War in 1846, Benton enlisted as a private in a mounted infantry regiment and saw duty in several major battles, including the capture of Mexico City. Upon his return to Indiana, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1851. Benton was the Wayne County district attorney in 1852-54 and a judge of the common pleas court in 1856-58.

When Lincoln called for soldiers to serve in the Union Army, it was reported Benton was the first in his county to volunteer. He was first appointed captain and then colonel of the 8th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, a three-month unit. The 8th saw duty in the (West) Virginia campaign during the summer of 1861 before being mustered out in August. The 8th was reorganized in September as a three-year unit and Benton was reappointed the regimental colonel. Benton and the 8th were sent west for duty in the Missouri interior and in March 1862 they fought in the battle at Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

Benton was promoted to brigadier general in April and commanded a division in the Army of Southeast Missouri until his transfer to the Army of the Tennessee in readiness for Ulysses Grant's Vicksburg, Mississippi, campaign. During that campaign, Benton was in command of a brigade at the battles of Port Gibson, Jackson, Champion Hill, Big Black River Bridge, and the siege of Vicksburg (all in Mississippi). Transferred to the Department of the Gulf, he served in both line and post positions.

In early 1865, he commanded a division in the Mobile, Alabama, operations and received a brevet major general's commission for his faithful and meritorious service during that campaign. After the War, Benton resumed his law practice in Richmond, Indiana. In 1866 he accepted a government position in New Orleans. On March 14, 1867, Benton died of yellow fever and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans.


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