Brigadier General William P. Benton (USA)

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Brigadier General William Plummer Benton (USA)

William Plummer Benton was born in New Market, Maryland on 25 December 1828. In 1836, he and his mother moved to Richmond, Indiana. From age 15, he spent two to three years in Cincinnati as a chairmaker. At 18, Benton enlisted as a private in the Mexican-American War and fought with gallantry in the mounted infantry at Contreras, Churubusco, Chapultepec, and Mexico City.

He studied law and was admitted to the bar in Indiana in 1851. In 1852, he was elected district attorney of Wayne County on the Whig ticket and served until 1854. In 1856, he was elected judge of the Common pleas court. In 1855, Benton married Sarah A. Wiggins, daughter of Daniel A. Wiggins of Richmond. They had three children. In 1861, he wife died of consumption.

Benton raised the first company from Wayne County following President Abraham Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers in 1861. He was its captain when the company became part of the 8th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment but was elected the regiment's colonel. He led the 8th Indiana is some of the earliest fighting of the war during McClellan's Western Virginia Campaign of 1861, including the Battle of Rich Mountain.

The regiment was then ordered to Missouri. There are contradictions of whether or not he commanded a brigade at the Battle of Pea Ridge. While in Missouri, he was remarried to a war widow, Emma Adolphin Lenhart, after a ten-day courtship.

In April 1862, Benton was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers and served with distinction at the Battles of Port Gibson, Jackson (where he was wounded), Champion Hill, Big Black River, and at the Siege of Vicksburg.

He then served in various district commands with the XIII Corps in Texas and Louisiana throughout 1864, until he commanded a division in the campaign against Mobile, Alabama in early 1865. Benton was mustered out of the volunteer service on 24 July 1865. He was awarded a brevet grade of major general following the war.

After the war, Benton was appointed the Collector of Internal Revenue in the City of New Orleans. However, he died of yellow fever on 14 March 1867.

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