Archive:Civil War Pension File, Benjamin D. Whitney

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Archives > Archive:Military Records > Archive:Civil War, Pension Files > Civil War Pension File, Benjamin D. Whitney

Civil War Pension File of Benjamin D. Whitney, alias Benjamin Grover
Guardian of Children: John Saunders
Minors' Applic. # 187973 Cert. # 157378
National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.

I have no idea whether Benjamin D. Whitney is his correct name or, indeed, who he really is. Ben is a mystery man. He first appears in the 1860 census for Aurora, Maine as David B. Whitney (no entry in 1850 census). David B. Whitney is also the name with which he was married. You will see that he was also known as Benjamin Grover from New Brunswick, Canada. As Benjamin D. Whitney, he claims to have been born in Readfield, Maine.

At first, I tended to believe the information on his discharge as Benjamin D. Whitney. I thought that at that point, he had no reason to misinform the army. His second discharge as Benjamin Grover carried the New Brunswick birth information, and was less believable due to his deception of the army. But, his absence from the 1850 census can make one think that he may have been Canadian.

So, if anyone can link Benjamin or David to a Canadian family, or if anyone has access to the Readfield, Maine vital record microfilm or CD, your help would be appreciated in the identification of this Civil War veteran.

Sergeant, Company F, 2nd Maine Infantry and Company E, Battalion 1, 17th U.S. Infantry

John Saunders, guardian of the legitimate children of Benjamin D. Whitney, signed a Declaration for Pension of Children under sixteen years of age surviving from Hancock County, Maine on 30 May 1870. Their father had enlisted under the name Benjamin Grover on 9 September 1864 in Company E, First Battalion, 17th Regiment of U.S. Infantry Volunteers. He had formerly enlisted on 25 April 1861 in Company F, 2nd Regiment of Maine Volunteers. He was discharged on 15 January 1863 at camp near Falmouth, Virginia by reason of asthma and chronic rheumatism. He died at Aurora, Maine on 11 September 1865, and left no surviving widow. His wife, Abby Whitney, died 4 November 1860.

The children are: Margaret E. Whitney, born 17 August 1854; William Whitney, born 5 June 1856; Helen M. Whitney, born 15 August 1857; and Abby A. Whitney, born 10 December 1858. Benjamin D. Whitney was married to Abigail Butler on 5 February 1854 by D.B. Silsby, Justice of the Peace.

Mr. Silsby provided a certified copy of the Town of Aurora, Hancock Co., Maine records concerning this family. In the record, Benjamin is called David B. Whitney. He married Abagal (sic) Butler as previously stated in Aurora, and the records reflect the death of Abigail in Aurora as previously stated. The records of the births in Aurora of all of the children are as previously stated.

The Selectmen of the Town Of Aurora wrote a letter in support of the pension claim for the children. It is an attempt to explain the circumstances of the family and the circumstances of the army record of Benjamin D. Whitney. The letter says:

"We the undersigned selectmen of the Town of Aurora, Hancock County, State of Maine hereby make affidavit that we were well acquainted with Benjamin D. Whitney from and since 1860; that we were well acquainted with said Whitney during the time intervening between January 15, 1863 and September 9th, 1864; that at January 15, 1863 he was sick and physically unable to perform or to do any labor; that he thereafterwards improved in health and was able to do hard work and at the time of September 9th, 1864 he was able to do hard labor and do hard work the same as before he first entered the service of the United States and was well and able bodied on the 9th day of September 1864; that he re-enlisted under the name Benjamin Grover as we have every reason to believe by reason of letters of his which he sent to various persons in Aurora aforesaid and he was discharged and returned to Aurora, Maine in the Spring of 1866, on or about _______ 31st, 1866, he was sick and enfeebled and again unable to work and instead of getting better as before he grew worse until he died on or about September 11th, 1866, we believe of disease contracted in the service of the United States. He has a bad cough and the chronic diarrhea and we think chills and fever and died of these complaints with consumption growing out of them. No one here doubts that said Benjamin D. Whitney and said Benjamin Grover are one and the same individual. Henry L. Rowe and George F. Silsby, Selectmen."

The Adjutant General's Office informed the Commissioner of Pensions that Benjamin D. Whitney was enrolled on 28 May 1861 at Willett's Point in Company F, 2nd Regiment of Maine Volunteers to serve two years. He was mustered in a Sergeant the same day. He was reported Discharged for Disability January 15, 1863. The name Benjamin D. Grover does not appear upon any rolls of Company F.

The Surgeon General's Office reports that it appears on records filed in their office that Benjamin Grover, Private, Company E, 17th Regt., U.S. Volunteers was admitted to the Post Hospital, Galveston, Texas on 7 May 1866 for treatment of phthisis pulmonalis, and was discharged from the service 31 May 1866 by reason of phthisis pulmonalis. He also appears as re-admitted 31 May 1866 and left the hospital 2 June 1866.

This file contains two Certificates of Disability for Discharge from the Army of the United States. One is for Benjamin D. Whitney and the other for Benjamin Grover:

Sergeant Benjamin D. Whitney of Captain Albion P. Wilson's Company F of the Second Maine Regiment of Volunteer Infantry was enlisted by Daniel Chaplin of the Second Maine Regiment at Bangor on 25 April 1861 to serve two years; he was born in Reedfield in the State of Maine, is thirty-fives years of age, five feet eight and ½ inches high, dark complexion, black eyes, auburn hair, and by occupation when enlisted, a lumberman. During the last two months said soldier has been unfit for duty sixty days. Said Whitney a year ago was unfit for duty on account of the phthisis and difficulty in breathing caused by exposure for a month or more and he has done very little duty since, and as soon as cold weather came on it came on him a great deal worse than before with a very severe attack of rheumatism so that he has not been able to do any duty in two months and a half or three months. J. C. Collins, Lieutenant, Commanding Company. L. B. Morrison, Surgeon, found him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier. Benjamin was discharged on 15 January 1863 at Falmouth, Virginia by Lt. Colonel George Varney, commanding the regiment.

Private Benjamin Grover of Captain Edward Collins' Company E of the First Battery, 17th Regiment of U.S. Infantry was enlisted by Lieutenant Lancaster of the 17th Regiment of Infantry at Bangor, Maine on 9 September 1864, to serve three years. He was born at New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, is forty years of age, five feet seven inches high, dark complexion, hazel eyes, brown hair, and by occupation a laborer when he enlisted. During the past two months he has been unfit for duty sixty days. He contracted a cough while on duty at Fort Preble, Maine shortly after enlistment. He appeared well in the first part of his enlistment, but has been unfit for duty during the greater part of the past year, the disease having been contracted apparently in the discharge of his duty at camp near Galveston, Texas on 24 May 1866. Edward Collins, Captain of the company. Benjamin was certified incapable of performing his duties because of phthisis pulmonalis involving both lungs. He has an incessant cough, excessive tuberculous expectoration, and night fevers. He is much emaciated and extremely feeble. A remote cause of the malady is hereditary taint. Immediate cause is exposure incident to the service, contracted since enlistment. He is unable to earn his own subsistence. His disability is total and he is unfit for the Veteran Reserve Corps. He was discharged 31 May 1866 at Galveston, Texas.

Copyright © 2006, Kenneth L. Whitney and the Whitney Research Group

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