Pvt Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Brown

Pvt Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Brown

Kentucky, USA
Death 25 Jun 1876 (aged 22–23)
Montana, USA
Burial Crow Agency, Big Horn County, Montana, USA
Plot Not Given
Memorial ID 52568597 · View Source
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Benjamin Franklin Brown was a private in F Troop, 7th U.S. Cavalry,assigned to guarding the horse herd. He was killed with GeorgeArmstrong Custer at the Battle of The Little Big Horn on 25 June,1876. Shortly before his death he wrote a letter to his mother.
The letter read:
Fort A. Lincoln DT May 13th, 1876
Dear Mother,
I received your kind and welcome letter. It found me well and I hope this may find you the same. I was very sorry to hear that Sister Alice was sick. I think Alice might send me her picture, and also, tell Tom to send his.
There will be no excuse for them. They will have til next fall to have them taken. If they do have them taken don't send them til next fall. We are going to start next Monday on our Journey to the BigHorn Valley.
You can write and if the mail is sent out to us I will get it.
Your Son
Benjamin F. Brown
F Troop 7thU.S.

Benjamin Franklin Brown was born near Campbellsville, Taylor Co ca 1853. He was the second son of Mary Ellen Brown. He joined the Army in 1872 and was assigned to Co. F, 7th U.S. Calvary. He died 25 June 1876 in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

He left Louisville Ky in 1873 with his company and went on the Yellowstone Expedition. Following are letters that he wrote back to Campbellsville during the time he was in the Army.

Fort A. Lincoln
23 Oct. 1874
Note: This letter was written by someone else as Ben could not read or write when he joined the Army. Most of the events he refers to can be found in the book CUSTER'S 7TH CAV AND THE CAMPAIGN OF 1873.

Ben was the sole survivor of the Indian fight he talks about. The Conrade bold with him was Pvt. John BALL, whose skelton was found when they were returning from Yellowstone. Prior to that he had been listed as a deserter taking government property.

The six Indians who attacked them were led by Rain-in-the-Face and according to documents later submitted by Custer, were an attempt to draw the troops into a wooded area where a large group of Indians were waiting to ambush them.

Page 68 Custer's 7th Cav and the Campaign of 1873.

About 2 O'clock they had stopped to rest while the Pioneer Corps made a road for the descent into the valley. Many of the men stood in the shade of their horses for there was no evidence of a breeze on this plateau some 300 feet about the river.

Suddenly a shot rang out. Then another. No Indians had been seen but a indolent camp suddenly became a beehive of activity. Each man bridled his horse and prepared to move. As they rode forward a mounted figure was seen approaching at a gallop. When he neared Lt. Weston he shouted, "All down there killed" It was trooper Brown, a member of F. Company, who had been escorting the Engineers. It was presumed the party had been wiped out. Actually Brown and his bunky had straggled behind in a search for water. In doing so they had joined the Vet. Surgeon and the Regimental Sutler. (a store keeper), who were also looking for water.

After finding a spring the four of them were suprised by the Indians as they set near it and chatted. The Indians had fired on the party, dropping the two civilians with the first round. The two troopers mounted and made a run for it. Trooper Ball a private with F. Company, who accompanied Brown was presumed killed in the pursuit, while the latter was the one who had given the alarm.

Dear Mother,

I will take the present opportunity in writing you a few lines and let you know that I am well at the present time, and have enjoyed good health ever since you last saw me.
I suppose you all know when and what year and month we left Louisville. If not it was the 3rd of April, 1873. We shipt from Louisville to Cario on boat, from there on the cars to Yankton, this territory. There we camped a week. During that time we had a very heavy snow storm. From Yankton we marched on horseback five hundred miles to Fort Rice. There we camped a few days and then started on the Yellow Stone Expedition. From Rice to Yellow Stone vallew where we camped a few days. We crossed the river and went on towards Musselshell.
The first fight we had with the Indians happened on 4 August 73. The Horse Doctor and Suttler were killed and my conrade bold (Ball), who was with me out scouting, he got killed. we were off alone by ourselves didn't expect any Indians around, but there were. I had the bridle off my horse and was resting myself, but soon got woke up. I did not have time to put the bridle on my horse, but mounted and off toward the column.
My horse was rather fast for the redskin and I left them far behind. After a little while the fignt commenced, but did not last long. We soon threw them off. We followed them for three, four days and fought them again heavy. One killed and three wounded. My horse was shot. We gave them enough to do that they did not want to fight us anymore, but several times fired at us across the river, but no one was hurt.
We marched on to Mussellshell (Muscle Shoals?) , then turned around and went back to Yellowstone and from there to Fort A. Lincoln. We arrived here on the 28th of Sept. 73. We camped out in tents for some time waiting for our new quarters to be done.
Where Indians or no Indians I was bound to leave the company and go hunting. We had plenty of antelope, deer, elk, buffalo, bear, wolf and others. I am very fond of hunting though a man's life is in danger by going off a few together from the column.
We went on the Black Hills Espedition the 7th of July this year and came back on the 31st of August. We had no fight with the Indians at all. It was a good trip all through, plenty of hunting the same as last year.
In 73 we marched about three thousand miles on horseback. This year about half of that. This is a very good post, good quarters and is well prepared for winter.
Before and I have been traveling so much, hereafter I shall write oftener. I get along very well in the Army and I think I shall stay my time out and save my money and expect to go out of the Army with a nice little sum of money.
Next time I write I will tell you more about the Indians. Six of our companies are now down south and perhaps we will be down there too next spring. My Company was going, but the Captain's wife were sick, so we had to stay here.
I will send you some money next time I write, My love I send to my sisters and brothers and let me know how Grandmother is getting along.

My love to you dear mother from your absent son.

Pvt. B. F.Brown
F Troop
7th U.S. Calvary
Fort A. Lincoln,
Dakota Terr.

{next letter}

Fort A. Lincoln

26 Nov 1874

Dear Mother,

I will answer your letter which I received a few days ago. The reason I have not wrote before, I was sent to Grand River along with some teams and I got the letter when I got back today. I meant to have my picture taken, was was too bad weather, but will have it taken in a few days. i shall send my picture and a frame also. You can expect it about a week after you get this, my letter.
I shall not send any money this time because it is unsafe at the present time. The road has been closed, no cars running now until Spring, so it is a bad way in sending at the present time. We have a very cold weather here. The trip I was on a great many soldiers got frozen, I came back sound and well. [ the weather reached 60 below and the river froze solid] We have the warmest quarters along the river, good stables for our horses. I go out hunting very often here is a great many prairie chickens.
We have no trouble atall with the Indians now. I expect soon to merrie one of the redskins, or rather wild prarie ladies. I shall try to get her picture and send it home. I think I shall bring her home when my time expires. Will she be welcome?
I should like ever so much to get my sister Alice's picture and her husbands. [ Flora Alice Brown had married Thomas OLDFIELD] and I wish they would write to me, and Thomas too.
I shall always answer your letters. Next time you write to me let me know how my Aunt Caroline and her husband are getting along. [Caroline BROWN married William G. BURRISS 22 Feb 1866] and the Willocks and tell them to write.

I will close my letter hoping that I will soon hear from you all again. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

My best respect to you my dear Mother, sisters and brothers and all who know me. My respect to grandmother. write soon.

Your absent son.
Benjamin F Brown
7 US Calvary
Fort A. Lincoln

{next letter}

20 Jan 1875
Ben writes to his mother. He says that since he has learned to write he likes to be writing all of the time. He also mentions that he now weighs 170 lbs. That he had intended to write Mr. Willock, but the weather turned cold.

{next letter}

Feb. 1875
Ben writes about the same thing, every thing is well. He will send his pictures as soon as the cars are running. He ends this one with. "Mother, tell my brother never to join the Army because he will be sorry afterwards"

{next letter}

3rd May 1875
Dear Mother,
I received your letter a few days ago. I was glad to see that you are well. I am well and hope these few lines will find you all the same.
Last Saturday, I went to Bismark, a little town about five miles from our Post. There I sent my photograph by express mail. I think you will get it before this letter. I hope you will be pleased with it. I was going to send some moccasins too, those kind of shoes the Indians wear, but I could not get them anywhere.
I have now got an Indian Squaw to make me three or four pairs and as soon as they are done I shall send them home and some other small articles. It has been pretty hard for me to get over to town, that is the reason why I have not wrote before.
In a week or two you can expect those things which I have wrote about.
I want you to write just as soon as you get my picture, and let me know if you received the picture all right. Don't forget that we may go out on an expedition very soon.
I will close for this time, My best respect to you all, first and last to you my dear mother.

Benjamim F. Brown

{next letter}

1st August 1875
Dear Mother,
Received you letter yesterday. I was glad to hear from you. I am well at present and hope that these few lines may find you the same. Dear Mother I see in your letter that you wish I would take good care of myself. I will Mother take good care of myself and hope to return home once more. Mother tell my little sister if I live I hope to eat breakfast with her as soon as my time in the service expires.
Let me know in your next letter wheather to direct my letter to Campbellsville or to Munfordville. I am very sorry to hear that my sister Alice has been sick. I hope to hear in my next letter that she is better. I will bring my letter to a close for this time.
Mother, excuse my poor spelling and I think I will be able to wite better next time.
My best respects to you all.

This is my own hand writing every word. I expect to be a clerk yet. When you write again write it plain so that I can read it myself.

Ben F. Brown

{next letter}

12 October 1875
Dear Mother,
I received your letter a few days ago and was glad to hear that you are all well as this leaves me a present. I am sorry that I cannot send you some money this time, as I have left my money with the paymaster. I will send you some next time, but had to wait so long, but as soon as the paymaster comes again, which will be the middle of next month I will send you some. Give my love to all my friends.

your Son
Benjamin F. Brown

{next letter}

8 Jan 1876
Dear Mother
I received your kind and welcome letter. It found me well and I hope this letter will find you the same. Mother you spoke of the picture that you sent me. I was very glad to see them. I would have answered your last letter sooner then I did, but as I got in trouble, I almost forgot I was living. If you get that letter that I sent you, it will tell you more about it then I have told you in this letter.
I sent my picture to sisters baby. I wrote to General Custer to get me out of trouble and he did so and I was very glad of it. I am cutting wood at the present time. We have a very pleasent winter up to this present time.
Mother you spoke of Mr Willock in your letter. I will write him a letter the first time that I get. I have spoke bad of soldiering, but when my time is out, I don't think I will ever regret the time that I have put in the Army. I have learnt to read and write, but not very good, but it will help me along when I come home.

Excuse me for not writing more. I will bring my letter to a close. No more for this time. My best respect to you and to all my inquireing friends.

Benjamim F. Brown

{next letter}

13 May 1876
Dear Mother
I received your kind and welcome letter. It found me well and I hope this may find you the same. I was very sorry to hear that Sister Alice was sick. I think that Alice might send me her picture and also tell Tom to send his. They will have no excuse for they will have until next fall to get them taken. If they do have them taken don't send them till next fall. We are going to start next Monday on our journey to the Big Horn Valley. You can write and if the mail is sent out to us, I will get it.

Your son
Benjamin F. Brown

{next letter}

14 Aug 1877

Adjutant General's Office
Washington D.C.
Dear Sir:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt from your office of Application for Pension #234381 and to return it herewith such information as is furnished by the files of this office.It appears from the records of this office that Benjamin F. Brown was enlisted on the 12th day of March 1872 at Louisville, Ky, to serve five years and was assigned to Co. F, 7h Regiment of the U.S. Cavalry. On the muster rolls of Co. F of that regiment for the months of March and April to 30 June 1872 he is reported present. July and August 72 Absent on detail, herding troop horses. Sept and Oct 72 to April 76 Present.
Killed June 25, 1876 in action with hostile Sioux on the Little Big Horn River, Montana Territory, a Private. Company was in action at the above place and date.

I am sir, very respectfully your obedient servant
S. W. Benjamin, Assistant Adjutant General

After Ben's Death his mother applied for a Dependant Widows Pension in 1877. In her affidavit she stated she was the widow of Samuel Brown, who had died 13 August 1867, being between the ages of 30-40. That she remained a widow. That Ben had brothers and sisters under the age of 16. being Henry Hobson Brown 13 yrs and Sarah Elizabeth Brown 9 years.

Mary and her children have now moved to Munfordville, Hart Co which she lists as her address. She also states that when Ben enlisted he was not quite 18 years of age and was her main dependance for support and was bound by law to labor for her. ( her figures must be off on this, because he is listed as 8 years old on the 1860 Taylor Co census) he would have been 20 when he joined the Army.



The affiants David WILLOCK and ELIZABETH WILLOCK state that they are personally acquainted with MARY E. BROWN, the mother of Benjamin F. Brown desc. who was killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in what is known as Custer's Massacre and state that they hired Ben as a farm hand for several years and that they always paid his mother Mary for his work. That she always drew the wages as it was her only means of support and that it was understood that the wages were to go to his mother for her support. That they are now and have been well acquainted for a great many years with Mary E. Brown and know that she looked to and depended upon him for her support wholly. That she has no husband and that her only support was the said Benjamin Brown. Said Ben's father having been dead about 13 years. That the said Benjamin's father SAMUEL MURRAY and Mary E. Brown were never married and that the said Mary never had any husband and that her only means of support was in the wages of her son Ben. that we have no interest in this claim. She had other younger children, but looked and depended upon Ben for the support of herself and other children at that time.

Signed by the Willocks and dated 19 Aug 1879

Other Letters for John McCorkle and George W. Waddle and C.W. Wright were similar in their content.

State of Kentucky
County of Hart

Mary E. Brown states that in giving the information to her attorney which the orginial application in this case was made, she failed to state the exact facts with regards to her marriage-from notions of modesty. She had removed from her former residence, and the facts were not known in her new home, and she was anxious that they should not be. In point of fact affiant was never according to the forms of law married, and therefore in strict legal truth is not a widow.

The father of her children was Samuel MURRAY (not Samuel Brown) and affiat lived with him as his wife, under and by virtue of a contract and mutual agreement between them, but no marriage license was ever procured or marriage ceremony performed by which they were legally united in the bonds of matrimony. She had been opinioned that marriage was in fact a matter of contract between the parties and that no ceremony was necessary to its circumstances, and she always while she lived with him in good faith, regarded herself as the wife of the said Samuel.

Affiant is not compelled to rely on her own energy and labor for support. She has but little property of any kind and that she paid for with the labor of her hands. She refers to the certification of the Clerk of Taylor Co, where she formerly lived and the Clerk of Hart County where she now lives as to the amount of perperty owned by her.

Signed Mary E. Brown 23 Aug 1879

Johnson McCorkle also wrote a similar letter in which he stated that Ben had an older brother Thomas, but he was not inclined to work and left his mother to fend for herself. That she had always depended on Ben for her support.

CHILDREN OF MARY ELLEN BROWN 31 May 1833-11 March 1921

Thomas Walter Brown b. 16 July 1852 Taylor Co. Ky married Mary Etta Nixon. d. 12 July 1927
Benjamin Franklin Brown 1853-25 June 1876
Flora Alice Brown b. 19 Aug 1855 d. unkn married Thomas Oldham bef 1874
Richard J. Brown b. Nov 1856 d. 1934 married Virginia Logsdon
Joseph Jefferson Brown b. 10 Sept. 1858 b. 30 Oct 1917 married Mary Martha Waddle
Henry Hobson Brown b. May 1863 d. bef 1920 married Clara C. Wilkerson
Sarah Elizabeth Brown b. ca 1864 no info.

(Bio and letters added by Russell Perkins FAG#47213352)



  • Created by: Russell Perkins
  • Added: 19 May 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 52568597
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Pvt Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Brown (1853–25 Jun 1876), Find a Grave Memorial no. 52568597, citing Custer National Cemetery, Crow Agency, Big Horn County, Montana, USA ; Maintained by Russell Perkins (contributor 47213352) .