Albion Recorder & Morning Star Columns

Historical Notebook: BENJAMIN BARNES FORD

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Each year at this time I like to feature one of Albion’s Civil War soldiers. Benjamin Barnes Ford (1837-1861) was one of the Albion area’s first casualties of the War. Benjamin came to Michigan in 1844 from New York state with his parents James G. and Priscilla Ford, and little brother Lindley (1840-1914). They settled and farmed 80 acres of land in Section 3 of Concord Township in Jackson County.

When the Civil War commenced, Benjamin and his brother Lindley left in July, 1861 to enlist in the First Regiment Douglass Brigade, organized at Camp Douglass in Chicago. They were mustered in on July 30, 1861. Also enlisting from Albion were: David Bennett, Stephen Flansburg; 1st Lieutenant George D. Curtis, and Corporal John N. Ford.

The Brigade was so-named after Stephen A. Douglass as an independent regiment. This later became the 42nd Illinois Infantry. Lindley later remarked in his memoir that the 42nd designation “caused much dissatisfaction, as over 300 men were from Michigan and did not enjoy the idea of being in an Illinois regiment, as we were promised we would be United States Volunteers independent from any State. But the disappointment soon wore off and every Michigan state man was proud to say he was a member of the 42nd Illinois.” The brothers were placed in Company H.

Following training they were sent to battle in the state of Missouri. The first casualty occurred at Warsaw, Missouri where Springport Township (Otter Creek area) native Private William Bockoven (1842-1861) was accidentally killed on October 27, 1861 by a misfiring musket. His listing number is 253664433 where you may read his story. William was the bunk-mate of Benjamin Ford.

While in Warsaw, Benjamin became ill. Lindley writes, “My brother went with us as far as Warsaw, Missouri where he was taken sick and was sent back to St. Louis where he died in the Fifth and Chestnut Street Hospital, November 17, 1861. His body was sent home and he was buried in the Albion cemetery.” He was interred in the Ford family plot in Block 13, Lot 36, grave 4. His Findagrave listing number is 8512339 if you would like to look it up and leave “virtual flowers.”

Following the War, Lindley published a book entitled “The Personal Experience of Lindley J. Ford 1861 to 1864.” The narration is done in poetry form, and the portion about his brother’s death on page 4 reads like this: “My brother had been failing; For several days or more; He was sent back to St. Louis; But returned to us no more. The suffering in the army; Is not easily described. We had only six mule wagons; In which the sick could ride. I went back to see my brother; He was pale and weak and worn; He had not then left Warsaw; But I never saw him more.”

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the James Ford family monument in Riverside Cemetery, located right next to the back corner of the cemetery office building in Block 13. Benjamin’s information is inscribed on the north side of this monument. There is a G.A.R. Post No. 210 (Albion) memorial flag marker placed here in memory of Benjamin Ford. His nearby individual marker gives his regiment information, with his name “BENJAMIN” inscribed on the top of the stone. How many of our readers had ancestors that died in the Civil War? Be sure and attend Memorial Day services/parades in your community on May 27.

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