Benjamin Franklin Brown Information
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Custer's 7th Cav and the Campaign of 1873.
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.
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
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.
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.
first fight we had with the Indians happened on 4 August 73. The Horse
Doctor and Suttler were killed and my conrade bold, 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.
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.
marched on to Mussellshell, 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.
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 indanger by going off a
few together from the column.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
love to you dear mother from your absent son.
7th U.S. Calvary
Fort A. Lincoln,
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
you get this, my letter.
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
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?
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.
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
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.
best respect to you my dear Mother, sisters and brothers and all who
know me. My respect to grandmother. write soon.
Benjamin F Brown
Fort A. Lincoln
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
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
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.
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.
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.
week or two you can expect those things which I have wrote about.
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.
will close for this time, My best respect to you all, first and last to
you my dear mother.
Benjamim F. Brown
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.
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.
best respects to you all.
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.
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.
Benjamin F. Brown
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.
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
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, byt 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
Benjamim F. Brown
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.
Benjamin F. Brown
Adjutant General's Office
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.
appears from the records of this office that Benjamin F. Brown was
enliste 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.
sir, very respectfully your obedient servant
Benjamin, Assistant Adjutant General
Ben's Death his mother applied for a Dependant Widows Pension in 1877. If
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.
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.
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.
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
by the Willocks and dated 19 Aug 1879
Letters for John McCorkle and George W. Waddle and C.W. Wright were
similar in their content.
County of Hart
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.
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 legallu 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.
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.
Mary E. Brown 23 Aug 1879
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
Henry Hobson Brown b. May 1863 d. bef 1920 married Clara C. Wilkerson
Sarah Elizabeth Brown b. ca 1864 no info.