This letter was written by George Benton, the son of Joseph and Janet (Davidson) Benton, pioneers of Richland county, was born in Jefferson Co., Ohio, Oct. 25, 1841, and was twelve years old when his parents emigrated to Richland county, and settled in township 11, range 1 west, now known as Marshall. Here he grew to manhood, assisting his father in clearing land, and attending the pioneer schools. He enlisted in February, 1864, in the 11th Wisconsin, Co. D (“the Richland County Plowboys”), and joined the regiment near New Orleans. For a time this regiment was detailed to guard railroads, after which they entered active service, participating in many minor engagements and skirmishes. The most important battle was Fort Blakely. He served until after the close of the war, and was discharged with the regiment in September, 1865, when he returned to his home. He remained on the homestead until 1870, when he came to Rockbridge and settled on a farm which he had purchased in 1867, located on section 16. He lived in a log house until 1879, when he built the commodious frame house which he now occupies. He has since purchased adjoining land, and his farm now contains 170 acres, 100 of which is cleared. He has been twice married. The first time, Feb. 22, 1866, to Mary E. Dickason, of Ohio. She died in April, 1867. His second wife was Keziah Robbins, to whom he was married Oct. 2, 1868. She was born in Carroll Co., Ohio, and has also been twice married. Her first husband was Hamilton Davis. They lived in Belmont Co., Ohio, where he died Oct. 14, 1867. Mr. and Mrs. Benton have an adopted daughter—Mary E. [Richland county, Wisconsin Biographies]
According to the company roster, George Benton joined the regiment as a private on 8 February 1864 and was mustered out on 4 September 1865.
[Camp Randall, Madison, WI]
March 4th 1864
I now embrace the present opportunity to send you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along soldiering. I am in reasonable good health. I sincerely hope these few lines will find you all enjoying the same rich blessings.
I have been pretty sick since I came to camp. I have just got out of the hospital last eek. Most all that come from our parts have gone south. They went when I was in the hospital.
I expect you are busy making sugar now. It is raining today here. It is a very bad day to stand guard. I expect we will be sent south soon. I do not care how soon we are sent off. I am getting tired staying in Camp Randall. There has nine out of our company died since they came to camp. It looks hard to see men die so near home.
I suppose it won’t be long before the draft comes off. I expect there will be a good many drafted in our town.
I suppose you have moved in your new house. I suppose you will hardly speak to common folks when you get fixed off in it.
Hugh Booker is in camp. He belongs to the Invalid Corps. His family lives close to camp. I was to their house once. He is the same Booker yet. He is not a much better man yet. He has lost the use of one of his hands. He was wounded in the hand.
I have but very little news to communicate at present so I will now close. Give my respects to all enquiring persons. Write soon. — G. Benton