Benjamin William Green (1846–1924)
Benjamin William Green was a soldier, planter, mill operator, real estate agent, and advocate for Confederate veterans. Raised in South Carolina, he fought in a Georgia unit during the Civil War. He moved to Arkansas after the war and later served as commander of the Arkansas Division of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV).
Benjamin Green was born on September 7, 1846, in Darlington County, South Carolina, to Judge James Green and Sarah Ann Green. He was a descendant of John James, an officer of the American Revolution. Green’s father was a planter, who, according to the 1860 census, owned twenty slaves ranging from age three to eighty years of age. His father was too old to fight in the Civil War, though he worked as superintendent of a hospital in Tunnel Hill, Georgia. His mother worked there as a nurse.
Green joined the Confederate army at the age of fifteen. At the time of his enlistment, his family was living in Dalton, Georgia. According to Green, in 1863, his father sold his Georgia plantation and intended to move to a new plantation in Arkansas, where he had previously sent slaves. The Union army’s capture of the Mississippi River in July 1863, however, made travel too difficult for those trying to settle in the Trans-Mississippi. Green’s parents remained in Georgia.
On November 1, 1863, Green joined company D of the First Georgia Infantry regiment. The regiment originally served in the Army of Northern Virginia. But by the time Green enlisted, the regiment had become part of the forces fighting in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Green rose to the rank of sergeant major. The First Georgia served Florida and the Carolinas, but the details of Green’s war service are unavailable. The First Georgia surrendered with the rest of General Joseph E. Johnston’s army at Bentonville, North Carolina, in April 1865.
Green and his five brothers all served in the Confederate army in various theaters, including the Trans-Mississippi and the Army of Tennessee. His brother John Francis Green served in a Georgia regiment, was wounded at the battle of Malvern Hill in Virginia in 1862, and worked on the staff of General G. T. Anderson. Another brother, Edward Melvin Green, moved to Kentucky after the war, where he became a minister.
In the 1870s, the Green family moved to Arkansas, settling in Hope (Hempstead County), where Green worked for a time as county treasurer. He had various real estate properties, and he was part owner of Cummins plantation in the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) area. Eventually, he settled in Little Rock (Pulaski County), where he worked in real estate.
Green married Nashville, Tennessee, native Anna Leroy Pope in 1875. She died in 1880, and he married Miriam “Minnie” Dodge Green, a native of Vermont, in 1887. On February 3, 1888, their daughter, Alice, was born in Washington DC.
Green was active at the local and state levels. In the 1880s, he was chief of a division of the United States Treasury, served as a major general in the Arkansas National Guard, was president of the state Sons of the American Revolution, and served in various roles in the United Confederate Veterans. He was also a prominent member of the Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, where he taught Sunday school.
Green celebrated all things Confederate. In 1904, he wrote Robert E. Lee Jr. concerning the publication of Recollections and Letters of Robert E. Lee. “It is the life of Virginia’s worthiest son,” Green wrote. “General Lee had a greater hold on the people than any other man ever did.” Green wrote that reading the book had made him a better Confederate. In June 1915, Green attended a meeting of Confederate veterans in Richmond, Virginia, and gave a speech on Jefferson Davis. Not surprisingly, he spoke of the former Confederate president in glowing terms, noting that Davis was a “soldier we admire, the statesman we venerate, the Christian we emulate, the patriot without compare, the man we love[,] the president we adore.”
Green died on January 15, 1924, at his home in Little Rock after a brief illness. At the time of his death, he was working as a real estate agent in the capital. He is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock. Confederate Veteran remembered him as “always ready and willing to serve, never sparing himself.” According to the Veteran, state offices were closed in his honor following his death.
For additional information:
“Gen. B. W. Green, U. C. V.” Confederate Veteran 32 (March 1924): 109.
Green, Benjamin William. “The Arkansas Confederate Home.” Confederate Veteran 31 (February 1923): 48.
———. “Hospital Work of Judge James Green and Wife.” Confederate Women of Arkansas in the Civil War 1861–65 Memorial Reminiscences. Little Rock: United Confederate Veterans of Arkansas, 1907.
———. “Reunion of the Arkansas Division, U. C. V.” Confederate Veteran 27 (January 1919): 6.
———. Speech on Jefferson Davis Delivered at the Reunion U.C.V. Held at Richmond Va., June 1, 2, 3, 1915. Little Rock: 1915.
Colin Edward Woodward
Lee Family Digital Archive, Stratford Hall