Benjamin Impson was 32 years of age, a shingle-maker and woodworker, when he made the decision in 1864 to enlist in one of the volunteer infantry regiments which was being formed for service in the Civil War. He left his wife, Maria, and their children behind on that cold February morning and made the trip to Columbus, Ohio, to enlist as a private in Company B, 32nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was soon sent on to Louisville, Kentucky, to link up with his unit and experience some preliminary training as an infantryman.
His unit had previously seen serious fighting throughout the region, and had served as part of Major General Ulysses S. Grant's army at Vicksburg. By 1864, the unit had been transferred to Major General Sherman's command. In February, 1864, it operated under Sherman at Meridian, then returned to Vicksburg, re-enlisted, and, after the furlough home, joined Sherman's army at Acworth, GA, on the 10th of July. In the fighting around Atlanta on the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 28th, the Thirty-second took an active part, losing more that half its numbers.
Benjamin had been detailed out to another assignment in February 1864, accompanying bodies of deceased soldiers, their gear, and excess cannon to Bedloe's Island, New York. In the process of removing the heavy cannon from the ship, he ruptured the muscles in his right chest, which produced a painful, protruding bulge which he carried with him for the rest of his life. After recovering, he was transported to Georgia to link up with his comrades under Sherman's command. He fought at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, and lost partial hearing when he was in close proximity to the horrible cannon which decimated the Confederate ranks. He was hospitalized for a short period of time due to complications which accompanied severe diarhhea, and was plagued with that illness for the balance of his years.
After the fall of Atlanta, the regiment joined in the pursuit of Hood, participated in the historic "Sherman's March to the Sea" as it laid waste to a swath of Georgia some sixty miles wide before capturing the city of Savannah which was awarded to President Lincoln as a Christmas gift. The army then crossed through the Carolinas, and on the 20th and 21st of March, 1865, took part in the engagement at Bentonville, then moved with the national forces to Raleigh, and was present at Johnston's surrender. The victorious army marched through the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, then on to Washington, where it took part in the Grand Review before the President and his cabinet. After that, it moved to Louisville, KY, was mustered out of the service July 20, then proceeded to Columbus, Ohio, where the men received their final discharge on the 25th day of July, 1865.
Benjamin returned home to Ohio where he continued once again in his trade as a shingle-maker and woodworker. He also developed some skills as a shoemaker and clockmaker while he worked to provide for his family. His young daughter Florence died in 1875 at age 8, followed just a short time later by the death of his beloved wife Maria in 1877. In 1879 he married for a second time...to Amanda Kaline Salsigiber. Beset with deafness and recurring problems of health, he applied for a Civil War disability pension in 1885. This was eventually approved in the amount of $10 per month, but was reduced to $6 per month shortly thereafter. He began an appeals process which lasted for the next twenty years as he attempted to regain that lost portion of his disability pension. At one point, he was ordered to travel from North Lewisburg to Delaware, Ohio, to appear before a board of medical doctors to determine if an increase in his disability was warranted. Unable to work due to his health complications, and already $10 behind in his rent, Amanda had to resort to selling her last remaining rug for $2.00 to pay for his trainfare to the examination. His appeal was initially rejected; in April 1907 it was approved in the amount of $12 per month. He died at the age of 76 in September 1908, and was buried in Square 131, Lot 2, Grave 1, Maple Grove Cemetery, North Lewisburg, Ohio. Amanda survived him as a Civil War widow until 1923. She was entitled to a $30 per month widow's pension. She was also legally blind.
A government limestone marker, weathered by more than 100 years of west winds, rain, snow, heat and freezing cold, marks his gravesite. A bronze Grand Army of the Republic stand is decorated each Memorial Day with an American flag. "He donned the Union Blue to serve his country."
I am very proud of my maternal great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Impson, Private, Company B, 32nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, patriot, and of HIS grandfather, Benjamin Impson, for whom he was named, who served with distinction in four separate New York militia units during the American Revolution..