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John Jacob Benepe was a farmer from Christian County, Illinois. Born in New Philadelphia, Ohio on January 30, 1841, Benepe moved to Illinois sometime prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, while his brother, Frank L. Benepe, settled in Bozeman, Montana Territory. On July 26, 1861, John enlisted in Company G, Forty-First Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He served exclusively in the war's western theater, taking part in the campaigns of Forts Donaldson and Henry, the advance on Corinth, Mississippi, and the siege of Vicksburg. He was wounded in the shoulder at Jackson, Mississippi on July 12, 1863, but recovered to participate in the Red River campaign before his enlistment ran out. After the war he resumed farming at Assumption, Illinois where he became active in the local Grand Army of the Republic post and occasionally published war reminiscences under the pen name "The Little Mexican." John Benepe died on November 11, 1895.
The John Jacob Benepe papers include two documents from his Grand Army of the Republic membership; two reminiscences, one of which describes his experiences during the siege of Vicksburg; Benepe's 1892 invalid pension and supporting affidavit from Captain Daniel K. Hall, Company G, 41st Illinois Infantry; three legal documents pertaining to Benepe's wife, daughter, and mother.