General Henry Benning
A brief summary history
Henry Benning was born on April 2, 1814 in Columbia County, GA – on the eastern boundary of the state. It is not surprising he joined the Confederate cause since he was a vocal secessionist who defended slavery. As much as some argue the Civil War was about states rights, for Benning, the issue was slavery.
In a letter written in 1849, he wanted to establish a consolidated republic that “will put slavery under the control of those most interested in it.”
Prior to the war, he served as an associate justice on the Georgia Supreme Court. After Lincoln was elected, Benning was active in the state convention where succession was discussed. He routinely took a firm stand on protecting slavery as an institution.
When the Civil War finally started, he was commissioned a Colonel of Infantry and commanded the 17th Georgia Infantry. His unit first engaged the Union at the Second Battle of Bull Run in August 1862. The unit remained together for the rest of the war and fought in many significant engagements. Personally, Benning was courageous as indicated by his nickname, “Old Rock.”
He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1863, but never commanded at the Division level.
After the war, he returned to Columbus to live and restart his legal practice. According to Wikipedia, “He found that his house had been burned; all of his savings had disappeared; and he had to support, along with his own family, the widow, and children of his wife’s brother, who had been killed in the war.”
He died in 1875 of a stroke.
More information in this article from the Atlanta Journal.