48th Mississippi Connections to Pennsylvania Residents

Tom Elmore

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Frank H. Foote, a private in Company F of the 48th Mississippi Infantry, part of Brig. Gen. Carnot Posey’s brigade, mentions two interesting civilian connections during the Gettysburg campaign, which appear in his 1881 article in the Philadelphia Weekly Times.

In late June 1863, a detachment of one officer and eight enlisted men (including Foote) of the 48th Mississippi were sent out on a foraging mission to gather supplies from area farmers near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In the vicinity of Orrstown, they encountered an elderly woman and two young girls at a farmhouse. Foote writes, “They kindly invited us to eat what cherries we wanted and questioned us as to what state we were from. On replying Mississippi, [the older woman] showed some interest and asked if any were from Vicksburg. Replying in the affirmative, she again asked if we knew anyone by the name of Grammer living there, whose relative she was. We told her yes, and furthermore that a man by that name was in camp from Vicksburg. When we returned, Grammer got permission and went to see the old lady, who proved to be his grandmother, and the maidens her cousins. An overflowing knapsack and haversack attested to his reception.” This must have been Private William B. Grammer from Company H, 48th Mississippi, who survived Gettysburg and was released from Point Lookout on June 27, 1865.

The next incident occurred in Gettysburg. Foote writes, “In the good old days of antebellum a favorite teacher of ours in Port Gibson, Mississippi, was one D. J. Benner. We knew he was from Gettysburg, for he often spoke of his home in the mountains of Pennsylvania. One of his former pupils made inquiries concerning him, and his father stated that his son, with the rank of major, was in the Federal army, then investing Vicksburg, Mississippi. Thus by war came changes. Pupils and teachers were separated by sectional animosities. The teacher was in the Federal army occupying his pupils’ home; his pupils in a hostile army occupying his home; his family in our lines, our families in his lines; each of us flushed with victory and seeking to conquer on each other’s land.”

Well, not quite. Yes, the former teacher was Major Daniel J. Benner of the 15th Illinois Infantry, and, yes, the 15th was then besieging Vicksburg and on the verge of declaring victory. However, Major Benner was not with it. In fact, he was on sick furlough at his home on Baltimore Street in Gettysburg. His parents were Jacob (1806-1864) and Eve Catherine (nee Snyder) Benner (1818-1894). Just before the Confederates arrived, Jacob concealed his son in the back of a grocery wagon and spirited him out of town, down the Baltimore Pike, while the rest of the family huddled in their cellar. At that moment, Major Benner was evidently not keen on a reunion with his former pupils, and Jacob Benner apparently chose not to disclose details regarding his son’s precise location.

The house still exists, as an art gallery, at 333 Baltimore Street. The town map of the period shows a residence, one outbuilding and an adjacent shop under the names of Jacob Benner and Daniel Snyder, who may have been Jacob’s brother-in-law. In 1858, Jacob had bought the lot in town, after selling his farm to George W. Rose; the farm was near the Emmitsburg road, south of town, just past a peach orchard. Both farm and orchard were destined to be remembered.

Sources:
-Frank H. Foote, Marching in Clover: A Confederate Brigade’s Tramp from the Rappahannock to Gettysburg, Philadelphia Weekly Times, no. 33, October 8, 1881.
-Compiled Service Record of William B. Grammer.
-The Jacob Benner House, http://www.civilwarfineart.com/JacobBennerHouse.htm
-Daniel J. Benner, https://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/scrapbk/benner.html
-Fields of Conflict II: The Rose Farm, https://npsgnmp.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/fields-of-conflict-ii-the-rose-farm-1844-1979/
 

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