(1841 - 1900)
Home State: Georgia
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 6th Georgia Infantry
A 19 year old overseer on his father's farm in Oglethorpe County, he enlisted as Private, Company K, 6th Georgia Infantry on 28 May 1861 in Atlanta.
On the Campaign
He was with his Company in action at Sharpsburg on the morning of 17 September 1862. After severe combat in the Miller Cornfield along the East Woods ...
a comrade by my side suggested we had better leave [the Cornfield] as that [Federal] line is going to charge, but noticing the men lying along the fence I replied no, we have a line, let them come, but, says he, these men are all wounded & dead and shook several to convince me; then, says I, the quicker we get out of this the better. At this time there were only three others besides myself that started. At this time the Federal line fired & killed one of the four & wounded two others, so I came out alone bringing one wounded ... to [the Dunker] church in [the] West Wood. I saw no other troops of ours until I got to church. Here I found a small body of Texans ...Later in the day he was among a group of about one hundred men in a "pick-up" unit under General D.H. Hill which briefly counter-attacked at the center of the Federal line.
The rest of the War
He was appointed Sergeant Major of the regiment in 1864 and wounded in action, by gunshot to the left hip, at Bentonville, NC on 18 March 1865 with no further military record.
After the War
He returned to farming in Oglethorpe County, married twice (Laura Howard 1844-1877, and Emma J. Matthews 1850-1896, m. 1882) and had at least seven children. He returned a sword captured by Company K during the war to its owner, Luke R. Tidd of Woburn, MA in 1883. He was an Oglethorpe County school commissioner by 1887.
References & notes
Basic information from Henderson1. His experience at Sharpsburg from his letter to John Gould of 25 June 1891. His gravesite is on Findagrave. Thanks to Barry Truluck for the pointer to Witcher and for his research in the US Census (1860-80), the Jackson [GA] Herald of 1 July 1883, Witcher's Compiled Service Records (via Fold3), Georgia Wills and Probate Records, and the 1891 Gould letter. Thanks to Dr Tom Clemens for a copy of the Gould letter, quoted above.
More on the Web
See more about Ben Witcher's cornfield story in a post over on the blog behind AotW.
Lieutenant Tidd, 39th Massachusetts Infantry (and presumably, his sword) had been captured at Weldon Railroad, VA on 19 August 1864. More about the returned sword is in the National Tribune of 12 July 1883 online from the Library of Congress.
02/18/1900 in GA; burial in Point Peter, Oglethorpe County, GA