July 3rd, 2013: Member Submission: Benjamin Franklin Lane

Posted on: 07/02/2013

150 years ago family members could find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict either due to their location or their beliefs. John Fuller Lane and Permelia Cynthia Miller Lane were born in Tennessee and moved to Indiana.  When the war started they had a son who fought for the Union and relatives who possibly fought for the South.  This is the story about one of their sons whose regiment, the 14th Indiana Infantry, found itself on Cemetery Hill 150 years ago today.

Benjamin Franklin Lane was one of seven children born to John and Permelia Lane. In May 1861, Benjamin Franklin Lane, at the age of 19, enlisted in the 14th Indiana Volunteer Infantry as a Private. He is listed on the roster as Franklin Lane. Originally he, like the rest of the unit, signed on for a one-year service, but in in June 1861, that term was increased to a three-year term.

The 14th Indiana, known as the Gallant Fourteenth, was part of the Gilbraltar Brigade and was raised at Terre Haute, Indiana and included men from Greene, Knox, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Parke, Vanderburgh, and Vermillion counties. The 14th first saw action at the Battle of Kernstown.  Later engagements included Antietam (Sharpsburg) where they fought along the Sunken Road, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg. Throughout the war the 14th Indiana lost 222 men: 150 were killed during battle or died from their wounds and 73 died due to disease.

150 years ago, the 14th Indiana arrived in Gettysburg on the evening of July 1, 1863. They did not see action until the following early evening when moved to the front of the cemetery to relieve General Howard’s Corps. The 14th charged the Confederates and were successful in saving the guns of Rickett’s battery and capturing the majority of the men and the colors of the 21st North Carolina.

The following is the report submitted by Colonel Coons:

O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign

No. 117. -- Report of Col. John Coons, Fourteenth Indiana Infantry.

NEAR GETTYSBURG, PA., July 5, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this regiment in the action of July2 and 3:

The regiment was moved forward with our brigade on July2, to support Woodruff's battery, which was in position near the center of our line of battle. A lively skirmish was kept up all the morning in our front bythe skirmishers detailed from the other regiments of our brigade.

At 4.30 p.m. the enemy opened upon our position with artillery; their fire was heavy and continuous.

At 6 o'clock I was ordered to support the Eighth Ohio, which had been detailed as skirmishers. A report then came that General Howard's position, on the right center, was attacked in force by the enemy.

About dark, under orders from Colonel Carroll, I moved to the right with the brigade, to support the batteries on the right of the cemetery. Arrived at Ricketts' battery and the others, we found their support, belonging to the Eleventh Corps, gone, and one of the guns in possession of the enemy, their advance having reached the crest of the hill. I immediately formed my regiment into line, and advanced upon them with fixed bayonets, driving them from the gun they had taken down the hill over a stone fence 100 yards in front of the battery. At this point we gave them two or three volleys, when they fell back. I formed my line along the stone fence, with the Seventh West Virginia on my left and the Fourth Ohio on my right. My regiment captured 1 stand of colors, 1 lieutenant-colonel, 1 major, 2 lieutenants, and 14 privates.

On the 3d, my line of skirmishers was engaged all day with those of the enemy, with small loss, and the regiment was under a severe cross-fire of artillery for a long time.

My officers and men behaved with their usual gallantry….

Respectfully submitted.

JOHN COONS, Colonel, Commanding.

Lieut. J. G. REID, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

The cannonade Colonel Coons referred to was spillover from the bombardment that preceded Pickett’s Charge 150 years ago today.  To get an idea of what it was like to be on Cemetery Hill alongside the 14th Indiana while the bombardment was underway, here is how 1st Corps Chief of Artillery Charles Wainwright described the scene:

At one o’clock the rebel artillery opened with a fearful roar, along their whole line.  It is said that they had 140 guns in position.  We had 110 and soon replied slowly from most of the.  For two hours the roar was continuous and load as that from the falls of Niagara.  The enemy fired full three shots to our one.  I have never known them to be so lavish of ammunition.

The 14th Indiana monument at Gettysburg, dedicated in 1885 by the State of Indiana, is located on East Cemetery Hill. Standing 14’ tall, the monument is carved of Indiana limestone and originally was placed on Wainwright Avenue.  Its current location marks the location where the color bearer, Isaac Morris was killed on July 2. The monument is engraved with the following:

On the evening of July 2nd 1863, a determined effort was made by Hay's and Hoke's Brigades of Early's Division of Confederate troops to carry Cemetery Hill by storm. The Union troops supporting the batteries occupying this ground were over whelmed and force to retire. Wiedrich's Battery was captured and two of Rickett's guns were spiked. Carroll's Brigade, then in position south-west of the cemetery was sent to the rescue, advancing in double quick time through the cemetery and across the Baltimore Pike. The men went in with a cheer, the 14th Indiana met the enemy among the guns on this ground where a hand to hand struggle ensued resulting in driving the enemy from the hill. On this spot Isaac Morris, the color bearer of the 14th Ind., was killed, and many others fell nearby. The regiment then took this position along the stone fence at the base of the hill south-east from this point, facing the east, the right and left flanks being designated by stone markers, there placed, which position it held to the close of the great battle.

There are also two 14th Indiana position markers on the battlefield on Wainwright Avenue showing where the regiment right and left flanks were from the evening of July 2 until the end of the battle.

Colonel John Coons led 236 men of the regiment during the battle.  Of the 236, six were killed and 25 men were wounded.

After being discharged from the service in June 1865, Benjamin Franklin Lane returned home and to resume his career as a stone mason. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana that stands on Monument Circle was among the projects that he worked on.  The monument is dedicated to and commemorates the gallant Hoosiers who served and died in the Civil War.

In 1867, Mr. Lane married Hannah Almeda Bales.  They had six daughters and two sons.  Franklin Lane passed away on December 27, 1918 and is buried in the Veterans Administration Cemetery in Marion, Indiana.  His gravestone is engraved, “B. Franklin Lane, Pvt. US Army, Civil War.”

Thank you to Ronald Lane Elliott for submitting his ancestor.

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