Simon Lyon of Chicago has written me of his great grandfather, Jacob Lyon, who fought in the defense of Fort Sanders as a member of Lieutenant Benjamin’s battery E of the 2nd U.S. Artillery. Benjamin commanded the defense in the absence of its nominal commander. Here is Simon’s email:
My great-grandfather, Jacob Lyon, was a member of “Benjamin’s Battery” (Battery E, 2nd US artillery) and was present at Fort Sanders during the Battle.
He was an “Old Soldier”, a German immigrant shoe-maker, starving in NYC, who enlisted, there, in 1854, and experienced his basic training at Governor’s Island.
He was recruited by William Selby Harney and was immediately sent to the Everglades, where he participated in the Third Seminole War. (In those days in that place, the artillery was really infantry.)
I won’t bore you with the details, but he served in the Army from 1854-1864 (honorably discharged before the Wilderness).
I have a copy of a letter from Benjamin to his [former battery first sergeant, Andrew Eitelman], which mentions my great-grandfather.
I also have copies of letters of reference from Winfield Scott Hancock (whom he met in Florida during the Third Seminole War) in behalf of my great grandfather, which I obtained from the Federal Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.”
The Benjamin letter, written years after the war when he was a major and an assistant adjutant general, follows in Simon’s transcription:
“HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
ADJUTANT GENERAL’S OFFICE
WASHINGTON, April 1st (Year not mentioned)
Dear Sir [Andrew Eitelman]
I was very glad to get your letter and to learn that you were doing well. I am always glad to hear of the men who were with me in the War and fought so bravely. We went thru many hardships, and I have always thought that I had a remarkably good set of men. Your own record is an unusually good one.
Lt. Graves is a Captain and is now in Texas. Lt. Ford is now a captain in the ?? ???? Dept. Sergt. Kaiser is an Ordinance Sergeant. Kerffe is a 1st Lieutenant in the 4th Infantry. Sergeant Aigle has a small farm near Fort Monroe. Lyon & Carew are in the [Treasury] Departments in the city. Capt. Carlisle is dead. Lt. Denike & Major Robertson are dead. I am sorry Kruger turned out so badly & thank you for warning me.
I hope sincerely that you will prosper & do well. You have earned the right to consideration & respect of all, by your bravery & devotion.
With kind wishes for the welfare of your family and yourself.
I am Yours Very truly
S N Benjamin, Major & AAG