Title: Army Private, Civil War; police officer
Birthdate: March 2, 1836
Death Date: November 7, 1900
Plot Location: Section 200, Lot 184 1/2
John’s family background is a mystery but his life is a notable one because of his sacrifice in a time of war as a soldier and his work in keeping the peace as an officer of the law.
He enlisted in Company I of the 88th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on September 18, 1861. Two brothers who were also named Rutherford joined the same company on the same day. Whether they were cousins hasn’t been documented. One of the brothers, Hugh, became a corporal in that company. His “Notable” life story can be found here.
His brother Joseph, a private like John, was killed on August 30, 1862 at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Ironically, Hugh and Joseph had a brother whose name was also John, but he was never in the military.
There were about 77,000 Union troops at Bull Run compared to 50,000 from the South, with the North suffering twice the number of casualties. Three weeks later the 88th was put to the test again at the Battle of Antietam. The Confederates were outnumbered by more than two to one, and it was called the bloodiest day in American history. John was one of the nearly 23,000 casualties, having been shot through the knee.
He remained hospitalized until given a surgeon’s certificate of disability and discharged on February 20, 1863. Treatment today might have included knee replacement, but at least John didn’t lose his leg to amputation, which was common during the war. He remained on a disability pension for the rest of his life but whether it hampered his job performance is not known.
Wedding bells rang for John and Mattie Benson on October 12, 1865. Their three children were many years apart, born in 1866, 1875, and 1887. John worked as a spinner in a cotton mill, then had a grocery store in the 1870s. Information on his career after that is missing until he joined the police at age 58. Mattie died in 1896, then John died four years later from chronic kidney disease.
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