Benjamin D. Pritchard Records (c.00324)

Benjamin Dudley Pritchard was born on January 29, 1835 to Zilpha (maiden name Adams) and Lambert Pritchard in Nelson, Ohio.

He attended Western Reserve College then went on to law school at the University of Michigan. He graduated and was admitted to the bar in 1860, after which he practiced law in Allegan. He is also listed as a "Teacher of Common School" on the 1860 Federal Census.

Pritchard mustered in as a commissioned officer at the rank of captain on August 29, 1862, in Allegan, Michigan. He commanded Company L of the 4th Michigan Cavalry and worked closely with Adjutant General’s Office and the Quartermaster’s Department.

While on furlough, he married Mary Bentley Kent (1840-1889) on September 1, 1864, in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. They were both born and raised in Cuyohoga County, Ohio, where Mary was the oldest of many children (records indicate between nine-eleven), and she attended school while helping her parents Martha Marsha (maiden name Bentley) (1821-1906) and Julius Granger Kent (1812-1887) on the family farm. Shortly after her marriage to Benjamin, Mary was injured in a passenger train crash, so she used a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

After his furlough, Pritchard returned to the front and was wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 18, 1863. On November 26, 1864, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was awarded the rank of brevet brigadier general on March 10, 1865, immediately after soldiers in his unit captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis near Macon, Georgia. Pritchard prepared and wrote the statement describing the capture to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, a copy of which can be found at the following link through the Bentley Historical Library's Civil War Collections Online:;rgn=full+text;size=100;view=image.

Pritchard mustered out at Nashville, Tennessee, on July 1, 1865. He returned to Allegan to continue practicing law and he became more involved in the financial sector as an investor and landowner (in 1880, he owned over 1,000 acres of mostly wooded land in Western Michigan valued at $21,000). In 1866, Pritchard was appointed as commissioner of the Michigan state Land Office. He helped organize the First National Bank of Allegan in 1872 and ended up serving as its president for almost the rest of his life. Running as a Republican in 1878, he was elected State Treasurer, a position he held for two terms until 1882.

Benjamin and Mary had two children together, Bertha Edna (1869-1945) and Harry Dudley (1872-1924). The 1880 census lists Mary as "keeping house," though she was a painter as well. She died at the age of 49 on April 19, 1889, from "deterioration of the spine." Benjamin Pritchard filed for an invalid pension on March 8, 1907, but died soon thereafter on November 26, 1907, in Allegan at the age of 72.

Pritchard's role in the capture of Jefferson Davis and his post-war financial activities have implicated him in a conspiracy theory involving Confederate gold. No concrete evidence has been found to support this theory.

This collection includes two account books (1862-1863 & 1865), five folders of invoices and receipts, and an inventory of Company L's weapons, ammunition, clothing, horses, and track. There are also several roll call issues of supplies.

Also included are two circulars from the War Department concerned with ordinance stores, one General Order concerning four cases tried by a military commission in 1863, an American Express envelope with two letters, and a letter of administration of a will, issued on 1911.

This online collection displays a sampling of these records:

The first account book is available to view in a pdf document. Uploaded separately with a transcription is a brief description of a meeting that appears near the end of the account book. It describes a meeting among the officers of the 4th Michigan Cavalry when they resolved to give the flag of the 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment to the People of the State of Michigan.

The online collection also displays various invoices, vouchers, receipts, and return statements filled out by Pritchard to account for equipment, supplies, and clothing for Company L of the 4th Michigan Cavalry. Also included are the two War Department circulars regulating ordnance stores.

A picture of Benjamin D. Pritchard can be found through following link in the "Seeking Michigan" online collection, a collaboration between the Archives of Michigan and the Michigan Historical Center:

A picture of Mary Bentley Pritchard (maiden name Kent) appears on the Find A Grave website:

Benjamin D. Pritchard Military Records : Circular 10, Ordnance Office of the War Department
Benjamin D. Pritchard Military Records : Circul...
Benjamin D. Pritchard Military Records : Circular 13, Ordnance Office of the War Department
Benjamin D. Pritchard Military Records : Circul...
Benjamin D. Pritchard Military Records : Invoice of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores (Dec. 26, 1864)
Benjamin D. Pritchard Military Records : Invoic...