Illuminating War

By By Carrie Blough, Curator, Historical Society of Frederick County | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 05.08.13 – History, Timepiece

Illuminating War

When David T. Bennett enlisted in the Union Army on Aug. 28, 1862, included among the items he brought from home were a pair of brass candlestick holders. They were regular-sized holders, but they could be disassembled for easy storage and travel.

Bennett enlisted as a captain in the Maryland Infantry, Company E, 7th Regiment. He was about 33 years old. Light provided by the holders’ candles helped him pen letters requesting supplies and intelligence, and helped him track ordnance. After several promotions, Bennett’s service was abbreviated when he was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia on May 5, 1864. He was “shot in the face while engaged in a revolver duel with a Confederate officer, both in advance of their lines,” according to The History and Roster of the Maryland Volunteers. He refused to leave the battlefield after suffering the injury, until he was ordered to do so by a colonel.

Bennett recuperated at a hospital in Annapolis, where he received correspondence from 2nd Lt. Robert “Bob” Hergesheimer, also of Company E, 7th Regiment, who stepped in to fulfill the duties of several injured or killed officers. Writing from Petersburg, Va., Hergesheimer kept Bennett abreast of news and events in the company and forwarded lists of supplies and of men killed in action. Hergesheimer frequently requested receipts and invoices from Bennett. Hergesheimer’s last letter on Aug, 13, 1864, came just a few days before his own death at the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad in Virginia on Aug. 21, 1864.

Bennett returned to the field after his convalescence, and was later promoted to the rank of brevet colonel for meritorious service at the Battle of Five Forks in Virginia, where he was shot in the left leg on April 1, 1865. Bennett mustered out of the Army on May 31, 1865.

After the war, Bennett and his wife, Charity, moved to Baltimore, where they lived and had six children. He worked as a builder and died on Oct. 2, 1889. The candlestick holders were passed down to his granddaughter.