Captain Henry Benson

Captain Henry Benson

The 38-year-old Civil War officer was a Belleville native, born in the Miller House, in 1824. The Miller House was located near the corner of Mill Street and Main Street in Belleville.

He joined the army at a young age and quickly rose through the artillery ranks distinguishing himself during the Mexican American War. For his good qualities as a soldier he received a commission as a brevet second lieutenant of the Second Artillery, June 28th, 1848.

In March, 1853, he was commissioned first lieutenant, and in May, 1861, captain. He was a fine artillery officer, and a favorite with Gen. McClellan and all with whom he was associated.

In 1862 he was commander of Battery M of the U.S. Horse Artillery.

Captain Henry Benson, of Belleville, died August 11 of wounds received on July 1, 1862, at the battle of Malvern Hill, Va., the sixth and last of the Seven Days Battles (Peninsula Campaign).

Malvern Hill was one of the North's rare victories in the early years of the Civil War. The Battle of Malvern Hill, also known as the Battle of Poindexter's Farm, took place on July 1, 1862, in Henrico County, Va.

This battle proved the superiority of Union artillery, which decisively repulsed Robert E. Lee's attempt to destroy the Army of the Potomac.

Captain Benson's company was the largest of the horse artillery units with over 130 men and almost 200 horses. Horse artillery was a new concept, also called "Flying Artillery" as every soldier rode his own horse which made it capable to very quickly mobilize and set up artillery at different locations on very short notice.

At the Battle, the 53,000 Union army troops faced Robert E. Lee and 55,000 Confederates.

 Two hundred cannons roared all day long with almost 10,000 casualties on both sides. Among the gravely wounded was Capt. Benson. He was transported to the hospital ship "Spaulding" and died from his wounds on board on Aug. 11, while en route to Philadelphia.

Benson's funeral took place in Belleville with full military honors on August 13. This was Belleville's first military funeral with six senior commanding officers as pallbearers and army units from Bloomfield, Nutley and other areas escorting the casket. It concluded with a 21-gun salute.

He is buried in the former Dutch Reformed Church cemetery in Belleville.

 The army named two coastal defense artillery batteries in honor of Benson. One in Maryland and the other Washington state.

The Belleville Historical Society discovered Captain Benson's long forgotten grave during a two year cemetery restoration project in 2003-2004. The tombstone had fallen over years ago and was buried under dirt and debris. The July 4th cannon are set up alongside his grave.

Read more below, research courtesy of Michael Perrone, president of the Belleville Historical Society.


Henry Benson Way, Belleville, New Jersey

The intersection of Main and Rutgers streets was dedicated in honor of Captain Henry Benson who died of his wounds on the battlefield in the Civil War. The ceremony was held at Belleville Dutch Reformed Church, 171 Main St., Belleville, New Jersey 07109, on Saturday, September 10, 2016,


LOCAL INTELLIGENCE

CAPT. BENSON, U.S.A. – Among the sufferers placed on board the steamer Spaulding at Harrison’s Landing, to be brought to Philadelphia, was Capt. Henry Benson, of the Second Regiment U.S. Artillery.

He had a shell wound in the right thigh, received from one of his own guns at Malvern Hill on the 6th inst., from which, unfortunately, he died on board the boat. Captain Benson was from Belleville, in this State, and rose from the ranks.

The funeral will take place with military honors, to-morrow, at 3 P.M., from the Reformed Dutch Church in Belleville.

MILITARY FUNERAL AT BELLEVILE – A large concourse of people assembled yesterday at Belleville to pay their last respects to the memory of the late Capt. Benson, of the U.S. Army.

The Pall Bearers were Maj. Gen. Runyon, Col. A. J. Johnson, Col. A. F. Munn, Col E. A. Carman, Lieut. Col. Swords, Lieut. Col. Corby of Bloomfield, Paymaster Ward, of Belleville, and Major Webster of Belleville.

A detachment of 100 men from the 13th Regiment, a Company from Bloomfield, and one from Franklin formed the military escort. The remains were taken from the house to the Dutch Reformed Church, where the funeral ceremonies took place.

After the services the body was carried to the grave yard in rear of the church, upon the shoulders of six men from the 13th Regiment, detailed for that purpose, and with measured step, and notes from the fife and drum, with the ceremonies of the Episcopal church, all that remains of the patriot was consigned to the grave – “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” there to remain until the resurrection.

At the close of the services a volley of three rounds was fired over the grave by a platoon of  men, and the vast assemblage retired, showing that the words of the text was verified “than thou destroyest the hope of man.” (Newark Daily Mercury, Aug.13.1862)

The grave of Capt. Henry Benson, (November 20, 1824 to August 11, 1862), in the Dutch Reformed Church Cemetery, Belleville, N.J., is a few feet north of the marble obelisk marking the Benson family plot, located near the middle of the churchyard's western wall.

His name appears on both the northern facade of the obelisk and on a separate marble headstone with Civil War imagery in its tympanum: a cannon, forager cap, and Old Glory.

The 38-year-old Civil War officer was a Belleville native, born in the Miller House, and was accorded his hometown's first military funeral. He was captain and commander of Battery M, 2nd United States Regular Light Artillery.

The battery between Forts Ripley and Mansfield, and west of Powder Mill Branch (Maryland) are to be called Battery Benson after Capt. Henry Benson, who died Aug. 11, 1862, of wounds received at the second engagement at Malvern Hill, Va., by order of Brig. Gen. George W. Cullum, Chief of Staff, March 16, 1863.

Another battery was named for Maj. Gen Philip Kearny, U.S. Volunteers, killed at the battle of Chantilly, Va.

Sources: American Civil War.com; Belleville: 150th-Anniversary Historical Highlights 1839-1989 by Robert B. Burnett and the Belleville 150th-Anniversary Committee Belleville, New Jersey. 1991. Newark Daily Mercury, Weds., August 13, 1862, Local Intelligence and Military Funeral at Belleville, courtesy of Glen Pierce. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Malvern_Hill ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Benson%27s_Battery_M_at_Fair_Oaks_1862_-_LC-B815-433.JPG  Find a Grave memorial; Created by: Nikita Barlow; Record added: Aug 01, 2002; Find A Grave Memorial# 6653672; http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GScid=1259891&GRid=6653672&


Battery M, 2nd U.S. Artillery, Library of Congress photo collection

Captain Henry Benson of Belleville is on horseback in the center of photo. He is commander of this Company M of the Horse Artillery. This photo is taken from the front lines in Virginia in June 1862. Days later, on July 1, as the fighting continued, Captain Benson was mortally wounded as his troops traded artillery fire with the forces of General Robert E. Lee.

Captain Benson's funeral took place six weeks later on August 13 in Belleville with full military honors. This was Belleville's first military funeral with six senior commanding officers as pall bearers and army units from Bloomfield, Nutley and other areas escorting the casket. He is buried in the Dutch Reformed Church cemetery.

Captain Benson's company was the largest of the horse artillery units with over 130 men and almost 200 horses. Horse artillery was a new concept, also called "Flying Artillery" as every soldier rode his own horse which made it capable to very quickly mobilize and set up artillery at different locations on very short notice.

The Belleville Historical Society discovered Captain Benson's long forgotten grave during a two year cemetery restoration project in 2003-2004. The tombstone had fallen over years ago and was buried under dirt and debris. The July 4th cannon are set up alongside his grave.

Courtesy: Michael Perrone, Belleville Historical Society


Captain Henry Benson

By Michael Perrone

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, originated in the years following the Civil War. The Civil War, America's bloodiest conflict, cost more lives than all of America's other wars combined.

Library of Congress photo collection

Belleville lost three men in battle during the war, Capt. Henry Benson, Thomas Stevens and John Rodgers. Benson and Stevens both lost their lives during the same month-long battle campaign in Virginia in the summer of 1862, while Rodgers died defending Washington, D.C., on April 8, 1865. Benson's remains were returned to Belleville; the final resting places of Stevens and Rodgers are unknown.

Benson was born in Belleville in 1824. He joined the army at a young age and quickly rose through the artillery ranks distinguishing himself during the Mexican American War. In 1862 he was commander of Battery M of the U.S. Horse Artillery.

Horse artillery was part of the cavalry and known also as "flying artillery" since they were able to rapidly move and set up artillery on short notice. At the Battle of Malvern Hill near Richmond, Va. on July 1, 1862, the 53,000 Union army troops faced Robert E. Lee and 55,000 Confederates.

 Two hundred cannons roared all day long with almost 10,000 casualties on both sides. Among the gravely wounded was Capt. Benson. He was transported to the hospital ship "Spaulding" and died from his wounds on board on Aug. 11, while en route to Philadelphia.

Benson's funeral took place in Belleville with full military honors on August 12. This was Belleville's first military funeral with six senior commanding officers as pallbearers and army units from Bloomfield, Nutley and other areas escorting the casket. It concluded with a 21-gun salute. He is buried in the former Dutch Reformed Church cemetery in Belleville.

 The army went on to name two coastal defense artillery batteries in honor of Benson. One was located on the coast of Maryland at Fort Sumner and a later one at Fort Worden in Washington state.

The Belleville Historical Society discovered Benson's long forgotten grave during a two-year cemetery restoration project in 2003-2004. The tombstone had fallen over years ago and was buried under dirt and debris. The 34-star Union army flag flies at his grave site along Stevens Street.

Benson's grave is decorated for Memorial Day.

Michael Perrone is the president of the Belleville Historical Society.

Belleville Sons Honor Roll

  A Place of Honor and Remembrance In the Home of the Brave

Belleville, New Jersey

Civil War


SUPPORT THIS SITE and OUR CONTINUING RESEARCH

BELLEVILLE SONS HONOR ROLL - Remembering the men who paid for our freedom; photo by Robert Caruso, used by permission.

Belleville Sons Honor Roll
Remembering the men who paid for our freedom

In the last century, Belleville lost 157 sons while in service to our country. This collection, gathered from newspaper clippings and other sources gathers what we know about these young men in an effort that their sacrifice not be forgotten.  

Available in paperback, Nook, Kindle and Amazon.


Nutley Sons Honor Roll by Anthony Buccino

Nutley Sons Honor Roll


 

Contact/Join Our Email List

BellevilleSons © 2018 By Anthony Buccino

Permissions & other snail mail: PO Box 110252 Nutley NJ 07110


Support this website by buying a book

BELLEVILLE SONS HONOR ROLL - Remembering the men who paid for our freedom

Belleville and Nutley in the Civil War - a Brief History

Anthony Buccino