Sunday, January 13, 2008

Benjamin A. Burdett 1835 - 1921

Benjamin Apling Burdette, my great-grandfather, was born 23 December 1835 in DeKalb County, Georgia. He was the son of James W. Burdett and Alice (Ealcey) Falkner.

When he was a young boy, his father moved the family from Georgia to Randolph County, Alabama, and settled along the Talapoosa River, near Fox Creek, an area not far from Wedowee. His father was a farmer, and raised his son Benjamin as one too.

On January 4, 1855, Benjamin married Millie Elizabeth Hood, at the Missionary Baptist Church, and settled in nearby Lanette. Millie was the daughter of Josa Hood and Harriett S. Robertson.

When the Civil War broke out, Benjamin enlisted in Montgomery, Alabama with his two brothers Samuel Monroe and Littleton J. in the 13th Alabama Co. E. He soon left a wife and three small children, and would not return until four years later.

Along with his two brother's he served with several cousins, a brother-in-law and neighbors. The 13th saw action during the Williamsburg, Siege of Yorktown, followed by Seven Pines, Cold Harbor and Fredericksburg.

During the Maryland Campaign he was atop South Mountain, and followed the next day at the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam). During the battle of Sharpsburg, Benjamin was in Miller's Cornfield and along the fence line at Bloody Lane, two areas of massive fighting and casulities. It was during this battle, both of his brother's sustained severe gunshot wounds. Littleton J. would succumb from his wounds four months later in a Hagerstown, Maryland military hospital. He is buried within the confines of the Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown, in the Confederate section.

Benjamin was active with his regiment in Hazel's Grove at Chancellorsville in May 1863. It was during this campain, Gen, Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall) was severely wounded and died.

On June 30th, they marched from Cashtown, Pennsylvania to a little town called Gettysburg.On the opening day of the battle of Gettysburg, July 1st, Benjamin was captured shortly after Gen. John Reynolds was killed in McPherson's Woods. Several of his cousins and brother in law Benjamin Hood were also captured.

Following their capture they began a forced march to nearby Winchester,and boarded the next day on a train to Ft, McHenry. From there, they were taken to Ft. Delaware, the dreaded Union Federal Prison. For the next two years, he was confined in prison, living on what little food was provided, and no doubt praying to survive. He lost two cousins in prison, but somehow managed to perservere.

In July 1863, three months after the war had ended, he and his brother-in-law, were released from prison. The two of them made their way home by any means they could find from walking and hitching wagon rides from Delaware to Alabama.

Three months later, Benjamin packed his wife and children, along with his father, brother's Wilson and James, and two of his wife's brother's families. They headed for Texas where land was affordable and plentiful.

In December, the wagons arrived in Smith County, to stay for a brief time. It was while in this county, we believe his father James died. Next they traveled to Leon County, and settled between Marquez and Jewette to farm the land. They lived here fifteen years and for a time in Comanche County near their married daughter Emma. In 1881, they decided to leave Leone County for a higher altitude, and set out for Bosque County. Along with Benjamin, Millie and their children, was Millie's widowed mother Harriet Hood. The next year their last child George Issac Burdette was born in Meridian, August 28, 1882.

In 1899 he applied for a Confederate Pension and was approved the next year. His pension as well as his Muster Rolls confirm his services as well as battles serving in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Benjamin and Millie stayed in Meridian until their deaths. At one time they lived on Live Oak Street, off the main town square. He remained a farmer and stayed close to his Bible, children and grandchildren. On their 50th wedding anniversary, according to the newspaper article, they preferred to spend it alone in Meridian, and would celebrate later with their children.

This remarkable man was a devoted husband to Millie and they had twelve children. Both lived to enjoy many great grandchildren. Their last anniversary together was their 65th in 1920.

Benjamin's obituary tells of a man loved by the community, and one of Bosque County's pioneers. He died September 14, 1921, at his home. The next day he was buried in the Meridian Cemetery. Millie stayed in Meridian, near her daughter Lina Gandy, until her death April 23, 1926. She shares a tombstone with her husband, nearby is a large oak tree.

I have actively researched my family lines for many years, however my great grandfather Benjamin remains one of my favorites. I have gathered an enormous amount of information on him and his family, and my quest continues.

I have followed my greatgrand father's footsteps across battlefields in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and viewed those hallowed fields through his eyes. I have felt his presence at his grave side, and thanked him a hundred times for his sacrifice.

I ask myself how a man could go into battle and never be touched, when all around him, he is surrounded by death and destruction. How could he live through two years of confinment, lose friends and loved ones in battle, only to walk home and begin a new life. There is only one explanation and it is devine province.

The first time I gazed across the battlefields, I realized what this man had endured, and because of him, I was able to follow him.

Thank you great grandpa Benjamin. I will not let your descendants forget you.

For additional family information that includes his children, please refer to the link Our Family Group Sheets (PDF format). You may also find a Family Group Sheet on Benjamin and his siblings at his parents James and Alice Burdett Family Group Sheet link.