|Death: ||Jun. 20, 1895|
Michael was the son of cooper Peter Bennett, and his wife, Mary (maiden name Rose), and was born in Nova Scotia, about 1846 (his death certificate gives his age at death as 48, and his age at enlistment is shown as 18). Prior to enlistment, his occupation was shown as a sailor, and he was residing at Provincetown (not Boston, as one highly inaccurate web site shows), at the tip of the Cape Cod peninsula. Michael enlisted as a private, in lieutenant James A. Littlefield's company H, of the 56th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry on February 17, 1864, and was mustered in with the company on March 1, of that year (Bennett himself, in his pension application forms, gave his date of enlistment as February 16, but this was obviously stated from memory, many years after the war). Enlistment was actually conducted at Camp Meigs, in the suburb of Readville, Massachusetts.
In was while the regiment, together with the Army of the Potomac, under General Ulysses S. Grant, were laying siege to Petersburg, Virginia, at the Weldon Railroad, about June 21, 1864, that Bennett contracted pleurisy, jaundice and the chills, and was sent by ambulance to City Point, then by transport vessel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was admitted to ward 61 of the Chestnut Hill Hospital (which was actually known as the Mower Hospital, or Mower General Hospital). The cause of his ailment was indicated to have been exposure to the elements, for two days, while on the battlefield in front of Petersburg. The published war journal of the commander of the 56th does indicate that, while in the line of battle, the unit had to contend with the elements, and sometimes did not have the shelter required to protect his men from the occasional rain. Treatment and medical care for Bennett's problems, while in hospital, continued for some four or five months, after which he returned to his unit, still situated in front of Petersburg. It was after his return to the regiment that Bennett was indicated to have been wounded in the chest, and, at which time, the symptoms of his previous ailment returned. The medical record of the War Department shows that he returned to duty about April 7, 1865, and that he continued on duty with the regiment until they were mustered out of service on July 12, 1865, near Alexandria, Virginia.
Being a sailor by profession, there is no doubt that Bennett continued in this profession, after the war, and migrated to Australia in 1878 or 1880. He is most certainly not shown in the 1880 United States census, and was obviously already at sea, or else in Australia, by that stage. Although there is a person named Michael Bennett, who was born in Nova Scotia, shown residing in Boston, in the 1880 United States census, this is most definitely not the same Michael Bennett who served in the 56th Massachusetts Infantry, as his age, at the time of the census was shown as 27, and thus he would have been only aged 11 in 1864.
There is also some doubt about exactly where Michael Bennett was married, as his death certificate, besides indicating that he had been residing for fifteen years in Victoria, at the time of his death in 1895, also clearly shows that he was married to Dolise Rose Durocher, at the age of 31, in "Collingwood, Victoria." Yet, other sources seem to indicate that he was married in the United States, which may, in fact, be totally inaccurate.
By December of 1889, Michael had appeared before the United States Consul, at Melbourne, James Petigru Lesesne, himself a veteran of the Civil War, to make his claim for the pension, and by February of 1890, Michael had filed an application for the United States government pension. His address was then shown as Bay Street, in Port Melbourne, Australia, the same street on which at least two other veterans of the American Civil War had resided, at one time or another, in the late 1800's. To assist him in his pension application, Bennett appointed Charles E. Hapgood, of Boston, who was a lawful attorney based in that city. Hapgood himself had been the commanding officer of the 5th New Hampshire infantry, during the war, and did assist Bennett in transmitting his pension application, in 1890. However, Hapgood indicated, to the Commissioner of Pensions, in Washington, D.C., that, although he did not wish to be considered as the attorney for Bennett, he would still assist in sending in any correspondence in relation to the claim of Michael Bennett.
To support his claim for the pension, Bennett had to undergo a thorough medical examination, and it was found that he did still suffer from some of the conditions that caused his hospitalisation, in 1864 and 1865. However, within a year, the claim was entirely abandoned, for an unspecified reason. About the end of 1892, he contracted phthisis pulmonalis, from which he was to suffer for the rest of his life. At the time of his death, on June 20, 1895, at Wellington Street, Collingwood, Michael was indicated to have been a bootmaker, which trade he took up when he arrived in Australia. Although he had married Dolise when he was aged about 31, the couple remained childless. Michael was buried, the day after his death, at the Melbourne General Cemetery.
Adjutant General's Report, Massachusetts; Comm. Of Massachusetts, Military Division, Military Records, 143 Speen Street, Natick, Massachusetts 01760.
Death Certificate of Michael Bennett, died June 20, 1895, City of Collingwood, County of Bourke, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Pension Application forms of Michael Bennett, No. 758.227.
"War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld, 1861 – 1865," originally published in 1912; second editon published by the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, in 1917.
Original research of the late Roy Parker, Barry Crompton, Bob Simpson, Len Traynor and Terry Foenander, and published in the volume, CIVIL WAR VETERANS IN AUSTRALIA, edited by Mrs. Virginia Crocker, 2000.
Melbourne General Cemetery
Plot: Baptist Compartment A, Grave No. 238.
Created by: Terry Foenander
Record added: May 15, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 19390273
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