United States Army Brevet Brigadier General. Born in Petersburg, Virginia, the son of Theodore Charles Benteen and Caroline Hargrove. He entered military service as a First Lieutenant in Company C, 10th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, on September 1, 1861, on the Union side. He married Catherine Louise Norman on January 7, 1862 in St. Louis, Missouri. He participated in a number of Civil War battles, including Wilson's Creek, Bolivar, Milliken's Bend, Pea Ridge, and Vicksburg, receiving accolades from his superior officers. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on February 27, 1864, and Colonel, 138th United States Colored Infantry, on July 1, 1865. In the reorganization of the US Army following the Civil War, he was appointed Captain, 7th United States Cavalry, on July 28, 1866, and carried that rank into the Battle of the Little Big Horn, June 25, 1876. During that celebrated battle, where Lt. Col. George Custer's forces met its famous disaster, he led a battalion that initially was to join Custer's forces, but was met by overwhelming enemy numbers, and was turned back to join Major Marcus Reno's portion of the regiment. Since the end of the battle he has been mired in historical controversy due to his alleged slow response to Colonel Custer's orders for him to join Custer's forces, which had been engaged with the Indians. Some claim that he did all he could, and his leadership actually saved the survivors of the regiment. Other claim, both during his lifetime and today, that he was slow in responding due to the fact he despised Custer thoroughly. However, most of the contemporary blame for the disaster was placed on the head of Major Reno. Frederick Benteen was promoted to Major of the 9th United States Cavalry, in December 1882, and was given command of Fort Duchesne, Utah, where in 1887 he was court-martialed for drunkenness and "conduct unbecoming of an officer". He was convicted and faced dismissal from the Army, but his sentence was reduced by President Grover Cleveland to a year's suspension. After his return he retired for disability on July 7, 1888 and resided in Atlanta, Georgia until his death from paralysis resulting from rheumatism and heart disease. Initially given the brevet of Colonel (a standard promotion for retiring officers), he was again brevetted to Brigadier General on February 27, 1890, mostly because of the recommendations of numerous Army officers who wanted him to be recognized for his gallant service at the Little Big Horn. Many officers admired him, for his pleasant humor and self-sacrifice for duty, and in battle, he was considered absolutely without fear. Major Reno, his immediate superior in 1876, called him "the bravest man I ever knew". Originally buried in Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia, he was re-interred in November 1902 into Arlington National Cemetery.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
Frederick William Benteen, Brevet Brigadier General, U.S. Army. Born Petersburg, Virginia, August 24, 1834. Died June 22, 1898.