John O. Stevens 1829-1863

Sergt. John O. Stevens, Co. B

My thanks to David Allen Lambert of the New England Historic Genealogical Society for finding this reference and putting a face to the soldier that I have been researching for the last 2 years.

Source: Martin A. Haynes, A History of the Second Regiment, New Hampshire Infantry, in the War of the Rebellion. Lakeport, New Hampshire, 1896.

John O. Stevens

During a re-reading of Hoyt’s History of Wentworth, I found details of the death of John O. Stevens that I missed before.

Sergt. John O. Stevens, Co. B“John O Stevens, Co B, 2nd N H Reg. was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg Pa July 1st or 2nd 1863. He was struck by a ball in the loins, which undoubtedly caused his death shortly after. But little is known of the particulars of this death, as no report has been given by any of his comrades. His body was found by the side of a barn by a soldier in one of the western regiments and by him caused to be buried and the grave marked. From the papers in his pockets his name and residence was learned and his father notified of the fact by this kind soldier. His body was brought home and buried with Masonic honors, witnessed by a very large concern of people – August 2, 1863 This brave young man was the first to volunteer in defense of his Countrys flag from this Town. He was esteemed by all for his moral worth as well as patriotism. After enduring the hardships and perils of more that two years service, being a participant in most of the battles in which the Gallant Second were engaged, he at last fell a victim to the most wicked Rebellion. Let his memory be hallowed.”


Source: Hoyt, Peter L., Hoyt’s History of Wentworth New Hampshire. Transcribed from the original manuscript by Francis L. Muzzey. Littleton, New Hampshire: Courier Printing Company, Inc., 1976, p. 345.

1863 Civil War Draft Registration for William and Thomas Bence

bence william civil war draft reg

Civil War Draft Registration for William and Thomas Bence

June 1863 Civil War Draft Registration record for William Bence, age 37,  and his brother Thomas, age 42. Both are listed as residents of Fall River, MA with their place of birth as England. In the “Remarks” column next to each of their entries is the note “Says he is an alien”.

Source Citation

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War); Collection Name: Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); ARC Identifier: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 3 of 4

“Somewhere in France”

This is a recent discovery from my own “archives”.

reb 04 notebook 01 IMG_2262

A bit of back story – I knew that my grandfather Raymond Everett Bence served in World War I. There is a picture in a family album of him standing in uniform in the snow labeled “Camp Devens Feb. 1918” and a story my mother told of his being gassed. But that was the extent of my knowledge. Archive searches only turned up his draft registration with no unit information.

This summer I tackled a box of files that I believed consisted of my mother’s tax records (she died in 2011). One of the folders was labeled “Raymond E. Bence”. At first I thought  it was tax info for my father, but no…

Among the items in the folder were my grandfather’s honorable discharge – in addition to listing his unit it also listed all engagements he fought in including dates and the two times he was injured in the same engagement – once being shot in the arm and the other being “slightly” gassed.

Also in the folder was a small memo pad. The first few pages are a record of his first few weeks in France. The entries end about the time he first sees combat. I’ve attached an image of the front page showing his changing locations, ending with the note “somewhere in France”.

My next archival visit will be to learn more about his unit, Company L, 102nd U. S. Infantry.

Home at Last


Bertha Alice (Ratcliffe) Bence and her son Staff Sergeant Raymond Everett Bence Jr.

In World War II Raymond served in the 445th Bomber Group, 8th Air Force as a nose-gunner in a B-24 Liberator. He was shot down over Germany on September 27, 1944 during the infamous “Kassel Mission”. He spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner-of-war, first in Stalag Luft IV and then on “The Black March”.

This photograph accompanied an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger on Raymond’s first visit home to Braintree, Massachusetts. At the time of his liberation in May of 1945 he weighed less than 100 pounds. A few months later he still appears to be very gaunt.