Benjamin H. Roberts1 was born on October 8, 1842, in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County. The oldest of ten children born to prominent Quakers William and Susanna (nee Havard) Roberts, Benjamin was raised on the family farm and at the age of 19 enlisted for service in the Union Army at the start of the Civil War. He was enrolled by Captain William Babe on June 6, 1861, at Lionville, and mustered into service as part of Company K, 4th P.R.V.C. on July 17 in Harrisburg. At the time of his enlistment Roberts was recorded as being 5 feet 11 inches tall, with a dark complexion, black hair, and brown eyes.
Benjamin was equipped and trained with the company at Camp Washington in Easton, and then was sent off to meet the enemy. Unfortunately, he would never get the chance to prove himself in combat. Later in the winter of 1861-62, while stationed at Camp Pierpont, VA, he and many other men of his regiment were stricken with typhoid fever. Benjamin died of the disease while at the Regimental Hospital, on January 28, 1862. Lt. Nathan A. Pennypacker left an account of his death in a letter written to his mother several days later:
“Poor Benjamin Roberts has passed ‘to that bourne from whence no traveler returns’ [quote from William Shakespear’s Hamlet] and I hope was prepared to meet the change. He was unconscious throughout his illness and did not know whose was the kind hand that waited upon him and cooled his parched tongue with a drop of cold water. It was hard for his poor mother to lose him thus, but all was done for him that could be. You may think a poor consolation for a weeping mother.”
Following his death, Benjamin’s remains were transported back home, and he was laid to rest in the cemetery at the Friends Valley Meeting, in Tredyffrin Township.
[Note: all spellings, punctuations, and emphases are those that appear in Penypacker’s letter]
- Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
- 2012a Registers of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865. Record Group 19, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA. ARIAS Digital State Archives website accessed October 2012. http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/bah/dam/rg/di/r19-65RegisterPaVolunteers/r19-65MainInterface.htm
- 2012b Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards, 1929-1990. Archive Collection Number: Series 1- 10, Folder Number: 412. Accessed through Ancestry.com, October 2012.
- Pennypacker, Nathan A.
- 1862 Letter to mother, Feb. 5, 1862 (L.7376). Collection 176, Nathan A. Pennypacker Letters, Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.
Roberts, Clarence V. and Warren S. Ely
1912 Early Friends Families of Upper Bucks, with Some Account of their Descendants. Reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, 1975. p. 502.