Benjamin Anderson (soldier)
|Died||February 21, 1865 (aged 28–29)|
|Place of burial|
|Allegiance|| Confederate States of America|
United States of America
|Service/|| Confederate States Army|
United States Army Union Army
|Years of service||1861–62, 1864? (CSA) 1863, 1864? (USA)|
|Rank|| Lieutenant Colonel (CSA)|
|Unit||1st Kentucky Infantry (CSA), 1st Louisiana Infantry|
|Commands held||Third Kentucky Infantry (CSA)|
|Battles/wars||Conquest of Nicaragua|
American Civil War
Benjamin M. Anderson (1836 – February 21, 1865) was a partisan soldier for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. He had gained military experience while serving under William Walker's filibustering campaign in Nicaragua. During the Civil War he served under Thomas Hines during Hines' espionage efforts behind Northern lines. While jailed for his war activities in a Cincinnati, Ohio jail, he committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head on February 19, 1865.
Anderson is believed to have been born in 1836, to James and Mary Anderson of Louisville, Kentucky. In early 1856 he became a captain for Colonel Jack Allen's Kentucky Rifles, a group under William Walker. At the Siege of Granada, Nicaragua (November 24 – December 11, 1856), he was seriously wounded.
After the initial seven states seceded from the United States to form the Confederate States of America, Anderson journeyed in March 1861 to the then-capital of the Confederacy at Montgomery, Alabama, to volunteer the services of several Kentuckians for the Confederate Army. On April 17, 1861, Anderson took his "Davis Guards" to New Orleans, where they were originally assigned to the First Louisiana Infantry. He was quickly promoted from Captain to Major of the First Kentucky Infantry (July 19, 1861) in Virginia to Lieutenant Colonel of the Third Kentucky Infantry in the Western Theatre of the War on October 25, 1861. He assisted in the evacuation of the Confederate government of Kentucky from Bowling Green, Kentucky in February 1862. Once again, he would be seriously wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, and would resign his commission on May 24, 1862.
He briefly returned to the Confederate Army as a staff officer, but eventually tired of it. He took an Oath of Allegiance to the Union cause to Union Brigadier General Jeremiah T. Boyle. However, he was now a social outcast to those with Southern sympathies, and he was followed continuously by Union detectives. There is some belief that he joined the Copperheads or Confederate "Sons of Liberty" afterward. He was involved in Thomas Hines' plans to free Confederate prisoners in Chicago's Camp Douglas, but he may have been a double agent.
By October 1864, he came back to Louisville, where he and General Boyle became partners in an oil venture. On December 18, 1864, he was arrested for his part in Hines' activities. During January 1865 he and seven others were tried on conspiracy charges for the actions involving the attempt to free prisoners at Camp Douglas. Feeling he had betrayed the Union people whom he befriended, and renouncing the Confederate cause, he said he "would prefer being dead than disgraced". He shot himself in the head while in jail in Cincinnati on February 19, 1865, and remained in pain until February 21, when he died. Of the others, two were acquitted, one was hanged, one escaped before being hanged, and the other two served 3–5 years at the Ohio Penitentiary, the judgment being made on April 19, 1865.
- Kleber, John E. Encyclopedia of Louisville. (University Press of Kentucky), p. 34.
- House Documents, Otherwise Publ. as Executive Documents: 13th Congress, 2nd Session – 49th Congress, 1st Session (United States Congress, 1867). p. 113.
- Murr, Edward. Lincoln in Indiana, Indiana Magazine of History (Indiana University, 1918) p. 275.