A Civil War Biography

Benjamin Franklin Eshleman

Little is known about Eshleman's early life. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1830 and at some point relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana. He had been appointed to West Point and was still a student at the military academy when the war began. He resigned to fight for his adopted state and joined the Washington Artillery of New Orleans becoming a captain of the 4th company on 26 May 1861.

He was wounded at Blackburn Ford and would not return to active duty until 2nd Manassas. He saw action at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville after which he was promoted to major to rank from 26 March 1862. He was made commander of the Washington Artillery on 4 June 1863 and commanded it attached to the I Corps at Gettysburg. Not long after Gettysburg the Washington Artillery was sent to the Department of North Carolina. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 22 February 1864 and given command of a newly formed artillery battalion which was assigned to the defenses at Petersburg, Virginia. He again was assigned to command the Washington Artillery in time to rejoin the Army of Northern Virginia attached to the III Corps in June 1864 and saw action at Cold Harbor. He remained with the Washington Artillery during the siege at Petersburg and the retreat to Appomattox. The Washington Artillery was assigned to a column headed by Reuben L Walker, the commander of the III Corps artillery. The column was ordered to Lynchburg, Virginia and thus was not present when surrendered at Appomattox. Following the war Eshleman returned to New Orleans and was active in business affairs as a merchant. He died in 1909.

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