Ebenezer French



Capt. Ebenezer French

Enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant in Co. C of the Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry on June 20, 1861 for 3 years. Commissioned First Lieutenant on September 1, 1861. Commissioned Captain of Co. A on September 1, 1862. Wounded in action at Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 13, 1862. Relieved from command in consequence of those wounds on December 20, 1862. Returned to regiment on March 1, 1863. Wounded in action in the “Wheatfield” at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 2, 1863. Discharged on account of disability on May 9, 1864. Re-entered service as Captain of Co. E of the Eleventh Michigan Infantry on March 1, 1865. Mustered out of service on September 16, 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee.

Son of Ransom and Rebecca (Farley) French. After service in the Union Army during the Civil War, Eben’s health was shattered by his army service and he died in California, as did his mother.

This letter was written by 1st Lt. Ebenezer French of Co. C. and gives some details regarding the final remains and personal effects of Captain Abram Wood who was accidentally killed by (4th Michigan) friendly fire while returning through the picket lines on April 18, 1862 (during the siege of Yorktown).

Camp Winfield Scott
May 3rd, 1862

William Allmer
Dear Sir,

Capt. Wood’s effects stand pretty much as follows:

Salary, rations, pay and clothing for servt.
Salary 1 mo. 18 days 60 $96.00
4 rations per day, 1 mo. 18 days 30 c $57.60
Pay for Servt. “ “ $13 $20.80
Clothing for “ “ “ 3.50 $5.60

Mrs. Wood will get a bounty of $100 and a pension for life of $30 per month. Simons can tell her how to get her pension. If she wishes and entrusts me, I will draw the salary and emoluments due him next pay day. His pocket-book was either lost in carrying him to the hospital, or at the hospital, but he told me that he had but little money, that he sent $200.00 to his wife, and that he was to considerable excuse at Washington.

As near as I can learn, his debts are as follows:

To C.P. Munsel, sutler $20.43
“ A. Kilmer, cash $10.00
“ “ “ trunk $4.00
“ G. Chandler, cash $7.00
“ Co. “C” Co. fund $29.00

The Company fund had been accumulating ever since we came to Washington, and deposited with him to use as the company might need. I have collected $15.00 and will send it by mail, or express, just as Mrs. Wood wishes.

Captain Jeffords, our new captain, is a gentleman in every respect, an efficient officer, and every way worthy the office he fills. He was a friend of Gov. Blair’s and the senior Lieutenant in the regiment. I am perfectly satisfied with the appointment. Col. Woodbury said he would like to see me in command of the company, but that Jeffords was the only Lieutenant in the regiment that had not been promoted. He said that I shall have a chance yet.

The enemy have kept up a heavy fire of artillery the entire day. We have got to work upon the fortifications and there is quite a probability of a fight, or in that direction, our sharpshooters are to be advanced 300 yards.

There are no news but that you receive in the papers. I have sent Capt. Wood’s things home — at least those he had here. Simons will send his trunk home. I wish you would tell Mrs. Wood that in his trunk is a copy of the “Secret Signals” for the use of the officers of the army. It is not intended for others to see and if made public it might do harm. Ask her to destroy it, or send it to me, and above all, to let no one see it. It may not be there, but I think it is.

We shall send home his remains as near as we can procure a coffin. We cannot transact business as we would like, being continually tied to the regiment and do not be uneasy if it is two or three weeks before we can get a coffin. A few have arrived at the Fortress, but the demand is greater than the supply. We will try and see the Mich. Commission and have them get a metallic coffin.

Yours,  — E. French