“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post#17 – The Later Years –

Young Dr. Benedict did not establish a regular medical practice in Norwalk, but prescribed for patients from his drug store, Benedict and Burton, on the corner of W. Main St. and Whittlesey Ave, later in the place on the south side of Main St. where Berry’s restaurant now is. He also had an office at the rear of his house. In the drug store he trained apprentices in pharmacy. Little Aggie, after high school, (though she really wanted to study medicine) worked and studied as an apprentice, took the state exams and became a registered pharmacist.

Two more little girls, Ellen (Lil) and Suzan followed Fred. David delighted in the happy family life which had been denied him in childhood. His mother had died when he was quite young and had been succeeded by a very disagreeable stepmother.

By the seventies, the old home, a story & a half frame house, was bulging at the seams with Benedicts and assorted aunts and cousins. In ‘76, David built the big brick house, with 9 bedrooms, so that, as he said, “There will always be room for any of my family who want or need to come home.” The house was a great gathering place for the children’s friends, who called it “The Fortress.”

Besides the drug store, he was interested in various projects. He and his sister’s wealthy husband, Louis Severance of Cleveland, opened a new residential area on the old family pasture land, across the wide creek bottom from the home, and built a high level bridge to reach it. Near the town end of the bridge, he built a three story frame building, with the front door opening from the top floor onto the bridge. Here he made and bottled his patent headache remedy, “Rego.” A hired man farmed the lands in the creek bottoms, tended two cows and a carriage horse, and the big garden, until David’s retirement, about 1890, when he himself took over the chores. He also had a greenhouse on the east side of the house, and a woodworking shop at the rear of the garden, near the barn. He was also on the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and a Loan Co. director.

To each daughter who married he gave a lot in the new addition, on which Hattie, Aggie, and, after her husband’s death in Colorado, Fanny built homes. On Sunday afternoons the daughters’ families gathered at the big house where they talked or played, and ate the weekly dishpan of popcorn and the walnuts, hickory nuts and butternuts which Grandpa had gathered and cracked. In 1885 came a staggering blow from which David never fully recovered. Fred, the beloved son, then a student at Kenyon and a DKE, like David, suddenly died of pneumonia. He had been a handsome, lively youth, loved by all, and his father’s pride and only hope for the continuation of the name, for David had been Platt’s only Benedict grandson.

In the early 1890’s, David, with Charles Wickham (my uncle and Cora’s grandfather) and Sam Wildman (Charles’s wife’s brother) bought a piece of land on Lake Eire which is now called Oak Bluff, for summer homes. David’s lot had an old cabin on it, which was used for eating, with a large 4 room tent for sleeping. In 1897, David, with the help of another man, built a new house, using the cabin as the kitchen part, which we now own and which is called the “Squirrel House.” I can well remember my grandfather, then a spry old man, sitting astride the ridgepole like a slim Santa Claus hunting a chimney, nailing on rafters and whistling the odd, short little tune which always told us where he was; or back of the cottage mixing white lead and oil for paint.

The next year he developed angina, and, on January 5, 1901, he died of a heart attack. It seemed very lonely, not to hear him whistling cheerfully in his office, in the hillside barn, or in the nearby workshop, at the end of the garden, where we children could always find shaving curls, and sometimes use an old hammer, saw or plane. Although he has many descendants, David was the last male ‘Benedict” in his line.

David Benedict’s case of instruments, used in the War, and the pistol mentioned in one of the letter, are in The Firelands Historical Museum. I have a pewter cup and coin silver spoon which he picked up on the battlefield after Chickamauga and carried to Libby Prison and throughout the rest of the War. The tag identifying these objects is in David’s handwriting. Also I have Hattie’s napkin ring and a button from his uniform, and David and Hattie’s wedding picture, a daguerreotype.

The above account was written from copies of the war letters and from memory by his granddaughter, Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton, in 1961.


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© 1961 by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. All rights reserved.

“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post#16 – Grand Review and Mustering Out –

“Headquarters, 17th O.V.I., Richmond, Va., May 9, 1865

Dear Hattie:

No letters from you since I last wrote. We will not get any mail at this point, as we are ordered to leave here early in the morning. I was all over the city today, an account of which I shall give you in my record. We are to be reviewed by Gen. Halleck as we pass through the city and will camp the first night at Hanover Court House. You may expect to hear of our arrival at Alexandria about next Monday, that is if you watch the telegraph. I am well and expect soon to see you, so I shall bid you good night.

Your affectionate Husband,

D.D. Benedict

The regiment was mustered out in Washington and David was back home in Norwalk by June 1, united with his joyful family. A year later the longed for son arrived at last, and was named Fred, for the beloved college friend, Fred Tennard, who was now a veteran of the Confederate forces. For David the War was definitely over.

GO TO NEXT POST – The Later Years

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© 1961 by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. All rights reserved.

“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post#15 – Heading Home –

“Page’s Station, N.C., Apr. 29, ‘65 – Know you that we have started for home as it is said that Johnston has surrendered. We are now in camp on the railroad running from Raleigh to Greensboro, about 7 miles from Raleigh. The order has just come for us to be ready to start at daylight. We go to Oxford and right up to Richmond. I think you will next hear from me at that place. It is said we go to Richmond to be mustered out. I wish you would get together all my papers that pertain to anything that I have done in the army, especially those that pertain to the receiving and turning over of property. Put all in a bundle ready to end a moment’s notice, as I shall not be able to draw any pay until all my accounts are settled. There are some pertaining to some tents that I drew at Tullahony and certificates that relate to their being turned over. They may be useful. I am well and happy at the thoughts of going home. I wonder if my wife and babies will be glad to see me? And to you, my dear, dear wife, – say be of good cheer as Sherman says we are coming.”

“Richmond, Va., May 8, 1865 — We expected it would take us two weeks to come here, but we have come 180 miles in 8 days, bringing along our entire army with all its transportation. This will be an unprecedented march in history. I got the hat you sent by mail, also the express receipt for the clothes but have no heard of the box yet. It is said we shall go from here to Alexandria, there to turn over all surplus property, and be sent to Camp Chase as soon as possible. We are to be reviewed here tomorrow, as we pass through the city. We will not make any more big marches, if we average 15 miles a day we will do well. Our men are pretty stiff and sore footed. I myself am well and in the best of spirits at the prospect of going home.

We were the first in here from Sherman’s army. The 1st Division of the Army Corps got in here about noon. We about 4 P.M. Our 2nd Div. About 7. The 20th will come in sometime during the day. The Army of the Tenn. will be in tomorrow. They camped near Petersburg last night. Gen. Howard won’t march on Sunday unless absolutely necessary.

GO TO NEXT POST – Grand Review and Mustering Out

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© 1961 by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. All rights reserved.

“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post#14 – Through the Carolinas –

From Savannah, the army marched north through swamps, to Sister’s Ferry, where they crossed into South Carolina. “As yet we have met no enemy, but have heard some cannon at a distance.” At this point they waited to build a bridge to take the troops across.

By March 21, they were camped near Goldsboro, North Carolina. There were few real battles, just skirmishes. Now even the men in the field could see that the end was drawing near. The only strong Rebel force left was General Lee’s in Virginia, and Grant and Sherman were drawing the net about that one. The news of the fall of Charleston & Wilmington brought wild rejoicing. David writes, “The people of the North must be jubilant, that is the Union loving ones, but it must have lowered the jaws of many a Copperhead. How do Henry and Sarah feel about the aspect of the War?” (Henry was David’s cousin Sarah’s husband and was suspected of being a Copperhead, or Southern sympathizer).

“Camp 17th O.V.I. Mar. 26/65 – In the field about 20 miles from Goldsboro, N.C. – My dear Wife, We had a little fight here yesterday, in which our Major was wounded quite badly. They are at it again now out in our front. It sounds as if the Rebels had attacked us. It is growing more brisk and may result in a general engagement if they have much force. It will take a pretty large one, as we are well fortified and will dispute every inch of the ground. I think now the skirmishing is going the other direction. We have been fighting more or less since day before yesterday. We did not have any wounded, none killed, and only went out yesterday to keep them busy while the rest of the Army was busy doing something else. We were on the front line all day and enjoyed the singing of bullets to our hearts’ content. I was at the Hospital about 3 P.M. and they had only three wounded in. I wrote you from Sister’s Ferry, also once from So. Carolina, and once from Fayetteville, N. Car.. The enclosed fern is from Hanging Rock, S.C..”

“Goldsboro, N.C. Mar. 29/65 — I can’t help what the papers say about the Rebs being on the point of giving up. I know it is not so. They are no doubt discouraged, they have met defeats, but of all that we have got to whip them in a big battle before the final end comes, and a defeat on our part would prolong the war yet another year or more. This rebellion is a big thing, and no one can realize its extent until they have followed the army as I have. At least I don’t think I shall locate in Norwalk, but it is a long time before I get to the place where I want to begin to think of looking for a place to practice in.”

“Collins Cross Roads, N.C., Apr. 19, 1865

My dear Wife, I got two letters from you this morning. We are indeed having glorious news, and many expect to be home soon. I guess you had better defer your visit to Mt. Vernon, (Ohio) (Hattie’s sister lived there) and if I come home we can go up the Lakes on a trip. I shall want a little rest myself. I suppose we will know before many days what is to be done.

We got the sad news last night that Lincoln had been killed in Washington. It cast a great gloom over the Army. The report seems to be doubted this morning. I hope so much that it is not true.

I have not time to write more. We are about 20 miles southwest of Raleigh, holding the bag for Johnston, if he tries to run out we will whip him in pieces. Lee’s surrender, I suppose, was good news to you all. Kiss the babies. Good bye, my dear wife.”

GO TO NEXT POST – Heading Home

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© 1961 by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. All rights reserved.

“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post#13 – In Camp at Savannah –

“Savannah, Jan. 4, 1864 – Our regiment has been very noisy on account of the men being drunk. They forged orders on the commissary for whisky and had a jolly time. One man got so disorderly that his captain had to tie and gag him. This is done by tying a bayonet in his mouth and putting him flat on his back. This man came near choking to death, from vomiting and bleeding from the mouth. He could not spit for the bayonet. I ordered it removed and the captain got mad and made some threats about me, but he soon dried up and apologized. General Sherman ordered all places of amusement in the city closed as the soldiers got so disorderly. — I do not know why you do not get my letters. Perhaps they will all come in a rush. Some of them contain my record of Interesting Events, which, if not received would be a great loss to posterity! Do you not think so? It was three years yesterday since I left home to enter the service. How much I have seen! And how much I have learned!”

“Jan. 18, 1865 – We have orders to leave Savannah and start north into South Carolina. I would like you to send me a suit of clothes. It need not be of Army blue, any good black cloth will do, and is cheaper, also a wide brim, low crowned felt hat, of dirty white or drab. Will want them when we finish the next campaign, probably about six weeks. I don’t think you need fear the small-pox. We are having some here in the Army. They were joking me at the Hospital, saying that I was to be detailed and left in charge, but fortunately they can not do it, as I am now the only doctor in our regiment. Kiss the babies from Papa. Good bye, my dear wife. Your affectionate husband.”

“Savannah, Jan. 18, ‘65 – We move out in the morning. It is said we go up on this side of the river to a point opposite Poctaligia, near Beaufort, S. Carolina. The good news has just come that we have taken Fort Fisher and we will soon have Wilmington. This leaves only two ports for them to run the blockade from. We expect soon to have them shut in entirely. Everyone of these ports makes us a grand point to get supplies from and in case of a defeat, to fall back on. The news from all the divisions is good and is cheering to us.”

GO TO NEXT POST – Through the Carolinas

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© 1961 by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. All rights reserved.

“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post#12 – Christmas in Savannah –

“Savannah, Dec 25 – My dear Wife: Today is Christmas, so I send you Christmas Greetings. I don’t suppose Aggie and Baby will know me when I get home. I think you are letting Aggie go to school most too young. It is not well for children to be confined so young.” (Aggie was 2 months short of her 4th birthday! Evidently Hattie heeded the warning, for Aggie finished high school at the usual age.) “I thought I would go to church today and hear the chants sung once more. After breakfast and fixing up some, the chaplain and I started on foot for the city, 5 miles. We took what was once the R. R. tracks, as it was better walking. I wanted to go to St. Paul’s on Madison Square, but could find no one to direct me. Then I saw one that looked like an Episcopal Church but it was not open. Then someone came along, and I found it was the right place, would open soon and the sexton would give me a seat. It is a nicely furnished church, in Gothic style, inside and out. A good organ and well played. Their singing was tolerable. One lady tried to overdo herself, I suppose because the church was crowded with Yankee officers. Many citizens were present, both men and women, but not a pretty one amongst them. Perhaps the pretty ones would not condescend to show their graces to this mob of ‘Lincoln’s Hirelings” or “Mudsills”. Most of them were dressed in black. The chants were good, the reading of the service good, but he left out the prayer for the president, prayed to it, and around it. I had a nice prayer book, and in the margin I wrote: ‘This prayer was omitted Dec. 25, 1864.’ The preacher was very good. After church I went to the Pulaski Monument, where I met the chaplain. The inscription reads: ‘Pulaski, the Heroic Pole, who fell, mortally wounded, while fighting for American Liberty, 9th Oct. 1779.’

“We got back to camp about 2 o’clock, and found our cook had gone to town, no Christmas dinner. However, I begged a few spoonfuls of rice, got a cup of sugar and started eating. One of my friends added a hard tack, another a slice of cold fried pork, and another a cup of coffee. So by this time I had a fine Christmas dinner.”

GO TO NEXT POST – In Camp at Savannah

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© 1961 by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. All rights reserved.

“Little Doctor on the Black Horse” Post#11 – March to the Sea –

“Kingston, Ga., Nov. 16 ‘64 – Dear Hattie, We start tomorrow for the south, destroying things as we go. There will be no communication between us for some time. The mail goes in 15 minutes. If you never hear from me again, take good care of yourself and the children. Write as usual and some of your letters may reach me somewhere. – The natives around here are queer specimens of humanity. The women look as if they are all head and legs. Their waistlines are clear up under their arms. No hoops encase their legs, nor bran bags adorn their backs. Cotton is so scarce they can’t afford it for ‘breast works’! — No more, the mail boy is waiting . Kiss the babies for me. Your affectionate husband.”

(The women must indeed have looked strange to one accustomed to the over-upholstered ladies of the period, when even little girls wore hoop skirts).

And with this David started off with Sherman’s army on the historic March through Georgia. He leaves no record of this campaign in his letters. When he writes again, it is Dec. 14, almost a month later, and the 17th is in camp 5 miles from Savannah, which is still in Rebel hands. Then:

“Dec. 21, ‘64 – Dear Hattie, You write of the many sad hearts on Thanksgiving. Now how many glad hearts are there in the North? You must now know that the Rebs left Savannah last night, and we have it. I have been all over the city today.”

GO TO NEXT POST – Christmas in Savannah

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© 1961 by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. All rights reserved.

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