Joseph Bennett Plummer – Brigadier General, United States Army

Joseph Bennett Plummer was born, according to the vital records of Barre, Massachusetts, November 15, 1816. He seems to have taken a few years off his age, however, so as not to endanger an appointment to the United States Military Academy which he sought for at least two years. Most sources, including Cullum’s Biographical Register, imply or state that he was born in either 1819 or 1820, and his monument at Arlington National Cemetery records that he was “43 Years” at the time of his death. He, however, noted in a letter dated March 7, 1836, stated that he was born in November 1817 (unpublished document, Adjutant General’s Office, National Archives).

He attended the local high school and was apparently a universal favorite since virtually all of the prominent citizens or ex-citizens of the area, including Governor William L. Marcy, united in recommending him for appointment to West Point. After teaching school for a time, he finally entered West Point in 1841 with host of others who would become Civil War generals. His military career prior to outbreak of Civil War was unexceptional; he stood garrison duty as an Infantry sabaltern at various middle-western posts, spent the first year of Mexican War on sick leave, and did Quartermaster duty on the Texas frontier from 1848 until 1861. He was promoted to Captain of the 1st Infantry in 1852, advanced to Major 8th Infantry, in April 1862. In the meantime was wounded in the battle of Wilson’s Creek while commanding a battalion of Regulars; the following month, on September 25, 1861, hw was commissioned Colonel of the 11th Missouri volunteer Infantry. In this capacity commanded the post of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, until March 1862, and and March 11 was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers to rank from October 22, 1861.

He commanded the 5th Division of John Pope’s forces during capture of New Madrid and was in command of a bde of Stanley’s Div in the “siege of Corinth.” Soon after, on August 9, 1862, while in camp near Corinth, he died of “Wound and exposure in the Active Field” and was ultimately buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Quite obviously, his remains were not immediately interred in Arlington, since the latter did not become a shrine until 1864. The author has been unable to determine where he was first buried or when his remains were removed to Arlington, despite the assistance of Jack Meltzer, Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery.

His private monument in Section 1 (Grave 121-A) of Arlington National Cemetery reads: “A wife’s tribute to the memory of a beloved husband who in all relations of life as patriot, soldier, husband, father and friend, nobly performed his part. Her grief is softened by the knowledge that his life was a willing sacrifice to his duty in the defense of a beloved country.”

Buried with him is S. C. Plummer, Captain, United States Army, the son of Joseph B. and Frances Plummer. His stone reads: “Graduated at West Point in 1865. Died November 11, 1881, aged 37 years. A gallant soldier, a loving son and brother, and a devoted and true friend.”

NOTE:  Plummer, Satterlee Clark, of Wisconsin. Appointed at-large as Cadet, United States Military Academy, 1 July 1861 (63); commissioned Second Lieutenant, and First Lieutenant, 17th United States Infantry, 23 June 1865; transferred to the 26th United States Infantry, 21 September 1866; Regimental Adjutant, 17 July 1867 to 1 May 1868; Captain, 10 June 1868; unassigned, 19 May 1869; assigned to the 7th United States Cavalry, 9 Aug 1869; honorably discharged 15 December 1870 at his own request; Asspointed Second Lieutenant,  4th United States Infantry, 19 May 1876; dismissed, July 1877; appointed Second Lieutenant, 15th United States Infantry,  20 January 1880: died 14 November 1881.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 08/09/1862
  • BURIED AT:   SITE 121-A




  • DATE OF DEATH: 11/14/1881
  • BURIED AT:   SITE 121-B



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