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Pvt Benjamin F. Smith

Pvt Benjamin F. Smith

Knox County, Illinois, USA
Death 26 Dec 1864 (aged 19)
Quincy, Adams County, Illinois, USA
Burial Marshall County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 104900516 · View Source
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(Note: The mortal remains of Private Benjamin F. Smith are found in the Quincy National Cemetery in Quincy, Illinois. This is a cenotaph that was placed by the family in the Lawn Ridge Cemetery in Lawn Ridge near the burial site of his baby sister, Florence A. Smith.)

Private BENJAMIN F. SMITH, Co. E, 86th Illinois

Benjamin F. Smith was born on February 5, 1845, most likely in Knox County, Illinois, the son of Riley Smith and Catherine (Newman) Smith. Riley Smith was born on June 6, 1804 at Guilford, Windham County, Vermont, the son of James Smith and Elizabeth (Jacobs) Smith, while Catherine Newman was born on June 29, 1812 in Wyoming, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Richard Newman and Nancy (Montayne) Mullison Newman.
About 1812, when Riley Smith was about eight years of age, his parents moved the family to Preble, Cortland County, New York. It is possible that as a young man, Riley may have worked on the Erie Canal. By the 1830's, Riley and at least one brother, Van Rensselaer, lived in Pennsylvania, in either Luzerne or Susquehanna counties. There Riley met a young lady named Catherine Newman. Riley and Catherine were married about 1832 at __________, Pennsylvania. Eleven children are known to have been born to them. They include;
1. Mary Eleanor "Ellen" Smith, born February 25, 1833 in Pennsylvania; married to Francis H. "Frank" Young on October 29, 1859 in Peoria County; In 1860, Valley Township, Stark County, Illinois; In 1870, they are found in ___________ County, Illinois Frank (40, NY), Mary E. (37, PA), Carrie (13, IL) and Chester F. (6, IL); In 1900, they are found in Ridgeway, Harrison County, Missouri; Mary died on __________ __, 19__ (after 1904) at __________, __________.

2. George Arnold Smith, born June 12, 1835 in Fulton County, Illinois; served in Co. E of the 86th Illinois during the Civil War, serving initially as 2nd Sergeant, then later as 2nd Lt., 1st Lt., and was Captain of Co. E when the war ended; married to Mary Elizabeth Wolfe on August 30, 1865 in Lawn Ridge, Marshall County, Illinois; George died on April 25, 1919 in Colony, Anderson County, Kansas.

3. Henry Smith, born August 22, 1837, most likely in Fulton County, Illinois; Henry is with the family in 1850, but in the 1850's, Henry is known to have gone off on his own; family records state that "his sister, Rose, believed she found Henry's wife in Oklahoma some years after he died and learned that he served in the Civil War, died and was buried in Wichita, Kansas." No grave has been found to date for Henry though.

4. Lyman B. Smith, born November 16, 1839 Chestnut Township, Knox County, Illinois; served in Co. G of the 54th Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War; married 1st to Clara Rhynhart on May 26, 1866 in Stark County, Illinois; married 2nd to Martha P. (Kendel) Spacius on June 1, 1881 in Clay Center, Clay County, Kansas; Lyman died on December 10, 1915 in Alhambra, Los Angeles County, California. His mortal remains were laid in the San Gabriel Cemetery, San Gabriel, Los Angeles County, California.

5. Egbert H. Smith, born January 9, 1843, most likely in Knox County, Illinois; Egbert was on the draft registration list for Peoria County dated June 1863 under Akron township; He may very well have served in the Union army, but, evidence has been found to date; married to Hattie E. Shaw on April 4, 1871 in Peoria County; Egbert died on July 6, 1920 in Los Angeles County, California. His mortal remains were laid in the ___________ Cemetery in __________, __________.

6. Benjamin F. Smith, born February 5, 1844, most likely in Knox County, Illinois; served with his brother, George, as a Private in Co. E of the 86th Illinois during the Civil War; Benjamin died unmarried on December 26, 1864 at Quincy, Adams County, Illinois, after being mortally wounded during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia; buried in the Quincy National Cemetery in Quincy, Illinois.

7. John Davidson Smith, born March 31, 1847 in Akron Township, Peoria County, Illinois; volunteered to serve in Co. F of the 31st Illinois Infantry on October 13, 1864 in time to participate in Sherman's "March to the Sea."; John was mustered out of the service on July 19, 1865; married to Margaret May Pettit on February 5, 1874 in Toulon, Stark County, Illinois; John died on February 28, 1932 in Peabody, Marion County, Kansas; From his obit: "On October 13, 1864 he joined Company F of the 31st Illinois Infantry and served his country to the close of the war, being mustered out July 19, 1865. One of his most memorable experiences of the war was in Sherman's March to the Sea." (Peabody Gazette Herald 3 March 1932). John's mortal remains were laid in the Prairie Lawn Cemetery, Peabody, Marion County, Kansas.

8. Henritta Mahalah Smith, born __________ __, 1850 in Akron Township, Peoria County, Illinois; died on August 5, 1851 in Akron Township, Peoria County, Illinois; buried in the Lawn Ridge Cemetery in Lawn Ridge, Illinois; her burial there is believed to have been the 1st.

9. Rosetta M. "Rose" Smith, born December 12, 1852 in Akron Township, Peoria County, Illinois; married 1st to Alonzo B. Nichols; married 2nd to Jacob Good on October 14, 1886 in Lucas County, Iowa; Rose died on December 8, 1944 at Fort Thomas, Campbell County, Kentucky. Her mortal remains were laid in the Chariton Cemetery in Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa

10. Sumner E. Smith, born __________ __, 1853/56 in Akron Township, Peoria County, Illinois; died on October 31, 1871 in Peoria County; his mortal remains were laid to rest in the Lawn Ridge Cemetery in Marshall County, Illinois.

11. Florence Adilaide Smith, born __________ __, 1858 in Akron Township, Peoria County, Illinois; died on April 15, 1862 in Akron Township, Peoria County, Illinois; her mortal remains were laid in the Lawn Ridge Cemetery in Lawn Ridge, Marshall County, Illinois.

After their first child, Mary Eleanor "Ellen" Smith, was born, Riley and Catherine made the decision to move west and about 1833 or 1834 moved west to Illinois. They settled initially near Riley's brother, Van Rensselaer near Canton, Illinois in Fulton County, where their oldest son, George A. Smith, always claimed to have been born. (NOTE: Van Rensselaer Smith was born on Nov. 18, 1806 and died on Feb. 6, 1900 and is buried in the Uniontown Cemetery in Uniontown, Knox County, Illinois.)
On November 3, 1838 Riley bought public domain land in McDonough and Knox counties and about that time, moved to Knox County, Illinois, where they are found in the 1840 census. There they resided near London Mills, Illinois in the area that was to become Chestnut Township.
In the 1840's, the Smiths moved to northern Peoria County, Illinois, where they resided in Akron Township, near Princeville, Illinois. At the time of the 1850 census, the Smith family is found in Peoria County, Illinois;
2198 Smith Riley 46 M Farmer Vt
2198 Smith Catharine 58 F Pa
2198 Smith Mary E. 17 F Pa
2198 Smith George 14 M Ill
2198 Smith Henry 13 M Ill
2198 Smith Lyman 8 M Ill
2198 Smith Egbert 7 M Ill
2198 Smith Benjamin 6 M Ill
2198 Smith John 4 M Ill
2198 Smith Frances H. 1 F Ill

At the time of the 1860 census, in July of 1860, the Smith family is found in Akron Township in Peoria County;
73 Smith Reily 55 M farmer 2,800 1,049 VT
73 Smith Catherine 49 F PA
73 Smith George 24 M farmer IL
73 Smith Lyman 21 M farmer IL
73 Smith Egburt 17 M farmhand IL
73 Smith Benjamin 15 M farmhand IL
73 Smith John 12 M IL
73 Smith Rosa 8 F IL
73 Smith Summers 4 M IL
73 Smith Florence 2 F IL

The Civil war was hard on the Smith family. During the Civil War, at least five sons, George, Lyman, Egbert, Benjamin, and John, are known to have served in the Union army, six if Henry Smith did. It may have been during the Civil War that Riley and Catherine left the homestead in Peoria County. Riley was in his late 50's during the war, while, Catherine was in her early 50's. With the boys all gone, they may not have found it easy to run the farm and care for the two youngest living children.
At the time of the 1870 census, Riley and Catherine are found living with "Rose" across the county line in Marshall County, Illinois. It is not known where Sumner was at this time.
Riley Smith M 66y Vermont
Katie Smith F 59y Pennsylvania
Rosetta Smith F 18y Illinois
Daniel Black M 25y Pennsylvania

By the 1880 census, Catherine is living with Egbert's family in Toulon, Illinois and Riley is living with George's family in Linn County, Kansas. Egbert moved to Kansas and settled near his brother, George, near Colony, Kansas. Catherine and Riley may have lived separately at their sons' homes until their deaths.
Catherine (Newman) Smith died on November 17, 1893 in __________, __________, while Riley Smith died on March 3, 1894 in __________, Kansas. Their earthly remains were laid in the Section 4, Row 6 of the Lone Elm Cemetery in Lone Elm, Anderson County, Kansas. The following funeral notice appeared in the Colony Free Press, of Prairie View, Kansas, edition of March 9, 1894. "Mr. Riley Smith, familiarly known as Grandpa Smith, who has for over a year been nearly helpless, passed away on Saturday last at the residence of his son, Geo A. Smith. The funeral took place on Sunday at 2 PM at the house, but on account of the storm there was but a small attendance. The deceased was nearly 90 years of age. He survived his wife about four months. The bereaved friends have the sympathy of the community."

Now to continue with the biography of Benjamin F. Smith;
On August 13, 1862, Benjamin's older brother, George A. Smith, volunteered in Valley Township in Stark County to serve in a company which was being raised in Marshall, Stark and Bureau Counties by a local well known farmer by the name of Orlando Fountain for service in the Union Army during the Civil War. At the time he enlisted, George gave his place of residence as Valley Township and his age as 25.
When Fountain had about 100 volunteers, he led the company on a march into Peoria, Illinois, where they went into camp at Camp Lyon, near present day Glen Oak Park.
On August 27, 1862, Fountain and 88 of his volunteers, including George A. Smith, were mustered in as Co. E of the 86th Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Fountain was elected by the men of Co. E to serve as their Captain. George A. Smith was elected by the men of Co. E to serve as their 2nd Sergeant.
On September 7, 1862, the men of the 85th & 86th Illinois marched out of the gates of Camp Lyon, with much fanfare, through the streets of Peoria to the railroad depot, where they boarded a train bound for Camp Joe Holt in Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky. Three weeks later the men of the 85th & 86th Illinois were in the field in Kentucky as part of Colonel Daniel McCook's Brigade in the Union Army commanded by General Buell in pursuit of Confederate troops under the command of General Braxton Bragg.
On Oct. 8, 1862, the men of McCook's Brigade were engaged with those Confederate troops in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, suffering their first casualties. There would be many more in the next few years. After the Battle of Perryville, the Confederate troops withdrew from Kentucky and the men of McCook's Brigade marched on to Nashville, Tennessee, where they would go into winter camp.
During the next 15 months, George A. Smith served faithfully in Co. E as the men of the 86th served in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. During this time, the men of McCook's Brigade served in the Campaign for Chattanooga, suffering a number of casualties during the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia in September of 1863. During this time, Sergeant George A. Smith was elected on January 11, 1863 to serve as 2nd Lieutenant after 2nd Lieutenant Solomon H. Williams resigned and then to 1st Lieutenant on June 18, 1863 after the resignation of Captain Frederick A. Waldorf and the promotion of 1st Lieutenant Edward Van Antwerp to Captain.
By New Years Day of 1864, the life style, living conditions and combat had reduced the ranks of Co. E so much that Capt. Van Antwerp was hard pressed to field 50 men of the original 89 who were mustered into service in August of 1862.
Back in Central Illinois, on January 19, 1864, Benjamin F. Smith went into Peoria, Illinois, where he volunteered to serve as a Recruit to help fill up the ranks of Co. E of the 86th Illinois. At the time he volunteered Benjamin was recorded as being 18 years of age, and as having been born in Knox County, Illinois. His residence was recorded as Akron Township in Peoria County, Illinois.

Illinois Civil War Detail Report

Company E Unit 86 IL US INF

Personal Characteristics
Age 18 Height 5' 9 Hair BROWN
Eyes HAZEL Complexion FAIR
Marital Status __________
Occupation FARMER Nativity KNOX CO, IL

Service Record
Joined When JAN 19, 1864
Joined Where PEORIA, IL
Joined By Whom CPT ALLAN Period 3 YRS
Muster In JAN 21, 1864
Muster In Where PEORIA, IL
Muster In By Whom
Muster Out
Muster Out Where
Muster Out By Whom

At the time he volunteered the surviving members of the 86th Illinois were encamped at MaAfee's Church on the south edge of the Chickamauga battlefield, where the 86th had 10 men killed or wounded back in September of 1863. The men as Kinnear states in the History of the 86th were "busily engaged in building shanties and preparing for the winter, which was extremely cold and disagreeable. These rude habitations were soon made comfortable, and had we been well provided with provisions and clothing, everything would have passed off gay and lively. Eighteen hundred and sixty-three passed away, taking with it many fond recollections, and many, too, that were not pleasant. The hardships and privations we were called upon to endure, together with our successes and pleasures, seemed now to be nothing more than an apologue of which the moral is the only reliable feature. There was good cause for rejoicing for success had attended our arms on land and sea. The Mississippi had been opened, and the enemy amazingly defeated at every point in the South-west."
Kinnear later continued, for awhile at first, the boys were obliged, in a measure, to furnish their own supplies. Every day, some one of each mess had to go six miles to mill and try his hand for flour, sometimes being extremely lucky, but more frequently, to return without a mite. Those were, with propriety, called our "milling days." Thus our time dragged heavily on. On the evening of the 27th of January, our division received orders to march the next morning at daylight, with three days rations in their haversacks. Accordingly, on the morning of the 28th, it led out in the direction of Ringgold (Georgia), still under the command of General Jeff. C. Davis. General Batie's brigade followed Morgan's, and Colonel McCook's brought up the rear. The evening of the same day the command camped at Ringgold, a distance of twelve miles. Here it remained until ten A. M the next day, waiting the result of a reconnoissance which was being made in the direction of Tunnel Hill, when it returned to McAfee. The enemy was found in force at that place, and his strength tolerably well ascertained, which was the real object of the expedition. This reconnoissance resulted in the capture of forty prisoners, besides five killed and seventeen wounded." The men of the 86th and McCook's Briagde remained in camp at Camp McAfee until the 14th of February, 1864. It was probably during this time that Private Benjamin F. Smith joined his brother and the surviving members of Co. E.
The opening movements of what became known as "The Atlanta Campaign, began in mid February of 1864. During the next 4 months, the Smith brothers and the men of the 86th and McCook's Brigade were witness to and participants in numerous battles and skirmishes, some of the bloodiest fighting in the Western Theatre of the war, including the Battles of Chickamauga, Georgia; Resaca, Georgia; Rome, Georgia and Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia.
On the morning of June 27, 1864, the men of McCook's Brigade found themselves across from Cheatham Hill on Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. The five Union Regiments of McCook's Brigade were formed in line of battle, one regiment stacked behind the other, the 86th Illinois third in line. It was hoped that this formation would allow the Union Brigade to punch a hole in the Confederate line, each regiment giving some protection to the regiment in back of it. When the signal gun fired, the men of the brigade stepped off and moved down a hill, crossed a small stream and then moved through a wheat field before beginning the climb up Cheatham Hill and the Confederate breastworks toward an angle in the Confederate line that was soon to be called "The Dead Angle." The following assault, which proved to be only partially successful, lasted less than 30 minutes. On the evening of June 27, 1864, Sgt. Levi A. Ross, a member of Co. K, wrote the following of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. "Our forces rushed upon the rebels five lines deep and in fifteen minutes were hurled back, by them, leaving 2500 brave Union Soldiers dead within twenty feet of the Enemy's works. The loss in the 86th was 106 -- in our Brig. over 400."
During this 30 minute assault, 6 members of Co. E were wounded, three of them severely. Captain Van Antwerp was severely wounded in the hips, Private Andrew Doran was severely wounded in the shoulder and Private Benjamin F. Smith was severely wounded in one arm. 1st Lieutenant George A. Smith may have very well gone to the rear with his brother when he was evacuated to the rear. Benjamin's arm was very likely so badly damaged that his arm was amputated. Within a few days he was shipped north to an army hospital and was soon in the army hospital at Quincy, Illinois. Private Benjamin F. Smith suffered from his wound for some five months. He finally succumbed to his wound, probably infections, on December 26, 1864. His body was laid in a makeshift Union burying ground there in Quincy. Captain Van Antwerp and Private Doran also died from their wounds. Today, the mortal remains of Private Benjamin F. Smith are found in the Quincy National Cemetery in Quincy, Illinois. A cenotaph was also placed by the family in the Lawn Ridge Cemetery in Lawn Ridge near the burial site of his baby sister, Florence A. Smith. For family links, please go to Benjamin F. Smith's other Find A Grave site in the Quincy National Cemetery.
For 1st Lieutenant George A. Smith and the surviving members of the 86th, the war went on. Lt. Smith was elected and promoted to Captain on September 14, 1864, after Capt. Van Antwerp succumbed to his wounds. Captain Smith would lead Co. E for the remainder of the war, leading them in the Battle of Jonesboro Georgia, Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea" and in the Battles of Averasboro and Bentonville, North Carolina, the later which helped to seal Confederate General Johnston's fate and helping to bring the war to a close.
To learn more about Captain George A. Smith's life, see his Find A Grave site and his biography.

by Baxter B. Fite III, Marcia W. Richie, whose email address is, and Lois Stewart, whose email address is

(Baxter and Marcia would enjoy hearing from anyone, especially descendants of the Smith family, who migt be able to add to the biographical material that we have of Private Benjamin F. Smith and the Smith family. Baxter and Marcia would also enjoy seeing copies of any photographs of Benjamin F. Smith, which may have survived the years, added to his Find A Grave site for all to see.)




  • Created by: Baxter B. Fite III
  • Added: 9 Feb 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 104900516
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Pvt Benjamin F. Smith (5 Feb 1845–26 Dec 1864), Find A Grave Memorial no. 104900516, citing Lawn Ridge Cemetery, Marshall County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Baxter B. Fite III (contributor 47203738) .