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Colonel John B. Bennet

Camp Commander, Camp Merritt, NJ


Commander of the 11th Infantry

A photo of Colonel Bennet taken at Camp Merritt, NJ when he was the Camp Commander. If you look in the upper left side of this photo you can see a sign on the wall. It says "Col. John B. Bennet, Commanding."

The following is his Memorial, as it appeared in the USMA Annual Report:

Annual Report, June 10, 1931


NO. 3412 CLASS OF 1891

Died September 2, 1930, at Walter Reed General Hospital, Washington, D. C., aged 64 years.

BRIGADIER GENERAL JOHN BRADBURY BENNET was born in New Brunswick County, State of New Jersey, December 6, 1865, the son of Hiram Pitt Bennet and Sarah McCabe Bennet. His father, an attorney-at-law, and one of the pioneer empire builders of the West, was the first delegate to Congress from Colorado territory, 1861-1865. After attending the grammar and high schools of Denver John Bradbury Bennet was in 1886 appointed a cadet to the U. S. Military Academy. After graduation, on June 12, 1891, he was assigned as Second Lieutenant to the 7th Infantry, Fort Logan, Colorado. He was promoted First Lieutenant December 3, 1897; Captain June 9, 1900; Major Sept. 27, 1911; Lieutenant Colonel Sept. 18, 1916; Colonel (Temporary) August 5, 1917; Brigadier General (Temp) October 1, 1918; Honorably Discharged as Brigadier General (Temp) July 15, 1919; Promoted Colonel, Regular Army, August 27, 1919; Retired at his own request after 39 years service, Sept. 16, 1925; Promoted Brigadier General (Retired) June 21, 1930. Such, in brief, is the military record of this distinguished graduate of West Point.

Brigadier General Bennet rendered his country varied and distinguished services. In 1897 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to Brigadier General Frank Wheaton and in 1899, to Brigadier General Henry C. Merrian. From July, 1899 to November, 1900 he was Judge Advocate of the Department of Colorado. In November, 1900 he went to the Philippines as Captain in the 16th Infantry where he saw active service in the field during the War of Insurrection, and served there until June, 1902 when he returned to the United States and took station at Ft. McPherson, Georgia. He remained there until May 26, 1905 when he once more went to the Philippines where he served until January, 1907 as Commander of a company of infantry and subsequently as Adjutant of Ft. Wm. McKinley. In October, 1911 he was detailed Colonel and Assistant Chief to the Philippine Constabulary, which position he continued to occupy until September 1, 1914 when he returned to the United States for service with the 11th Infantry. During the Punitive Expedition into Mexico, Lt. Col. Bennet was attached to the 17th Infantry. After a tour of duty in 1916 with the Aviation Section, Signal Corps, he was assigned to the Command of the 49th Infantry and went to Camp Merritt where he organized and helped build that Camp. On March 20, 1918 General Bennet was transferred to the 11th Infantry, Camp Forrest, Ga., and sailed for France with it in April, arriving May 4, 1918.

He served in sectors along Alsace-Lorraine fronts until September, 1918 when, still in command of the 11th Infantry, he took part in the Battle of St. Mihiel, Sept. 11-15, 1918. He was recommended for promotion to Brigadier General immediately thereafter by the Division Commander. Subsequently he commanded the 11th Infantry in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of October, 1918. After promotion to Brigadier General, October 16, 1918, he saw service with the Inter-Allied Tank Center; was in command as Casual Officer Depot S.0.S., A.E.F.; with Service of Supplies, A.E.F., and also commanded the Base Section S.0.S. at Le Havre, France, from November 25, 1918 to April 26, 1919 where in an impressive ceremony, the French decorated him with the Legion of Honor.

General Bennet sailed from France for the United States April 26, 1919 and was on duty at Camp Meade from May 10, 1919, to July, 1919 as Chief of Demobilization.

After demotion, July 15, 1919, to his grade of Lieutenant Colonel in the Regular Army, he went to the Army Service School, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, as a student with the General Staff Class. After graduation ho took the course at the Army War College from which be graduated June 1, 1921, became a member of the General Staff Corps, and as such was on duty with the War Department General Staff June 2, 1921 to June 21, 1925.

He retired from active Service at his own request, September 16th, 1925.

General Bennet had certain marked characteristics that probably can best be depicted by reference to official records. As a young officer he paid special attention to photography, topography, engineering and surveying. During his service with the Philippine Constabulary he was a recognized authority on Military Police Administration.

He had an unusually varied military career as revealed by the following comments in regard to his services by various Commanding Officers:

Major General Henry 0. Merriam, in 1899 wrote: "Cheerful and generous aid in meeting the many emergencies incidental to forwarding the Philippine Expeditions. First Lieut. J. B. Bennet, Aide-de-Camp, has shown remarkable abilities, considering his youth, in conducting the work of the Adjutant General's Office."

Major General Wesley Merritt: "I join with Gen. Merriam, Commanding the Department of Colorado, in his commendation."

Brig. General Adolphus W. Greely, 1901; under whom he served in the Sig. Corps during Spanish-American War, "Capacity for Commanding; served most efficiently as Sig. Off. Dept. of Colorado for one year."

Col. Butler D. Price, 16th Inf. (1905): "The Reg. C. 0. desires to express his appreciation of the faithful, zealous and efficient manner in which Capt. Bennet has discharged all the duties of Adjutant of the Regiment."

Brig. General Alfred C. Markley, C.O., Ft. Win. McKinley, P. I., 1907: Wrote in most laudatory terms of Capt. Bennet's service under him as Adjutant of Ft. Wm. McKinley. "The duties were enormous at that time of construction and many changes -- made more so by the fatal illness of his predecessor, the General stated, "The paper work of this office was simply enormous. He (Capt. Bennet) delved into, corrected and completed the old records. He reorganized the office, established system, with some details new and excellent so that the innumerable things to be done were never missed but anticipated. In short, he had the office running smoothly and efficiently, a few words so easy to say, but representing infinite labor, care and skill.... The work of the Commanding Officer, hard and grinding, became easy and pleasant; the post was in good condition, and receiving encomiums from Dept. Headquarters on its office work, all due to the Adjutant; Captain Bennet has remarkable gift of details-never forgets. He is highly skilled in his profession and has correct ideas of it.... He is unfailing in temper and courtesy, as well as in doing exact justice and I found him most agreeable personally. He has had varied and useful experience in most of the departments, was Aide-de-Camp at a department headquarters, with the many duties common to that be- fore 1898 and has profited by all of them.... I consider him to be one of the best all-around officers in the service."

Brig. Genl. Harry H. Bandholtz (1907); Director of Philippine Constabulary: "Capt. Bennet has been but six months on duty with the Constabulary, but has shown himself to be a conscientious, energetic and capable officer. He has excellent habits, a fine physique, is thoroughly posted in his profession, and I consider him to be one of the best all-around officers with whom I have come in contact."

Major General Leonard Wood, 1907, C.O., P. I.-"A very efficient and capable officer."

Major General J. Franklin Bell, C.O., Philippines, 1912: "Major Bennet has been on duty with the Philippine Constabulary since Dec. 27, 1906. I believe the condition of the Constabulary under his command is excellent. He has an excellent reputation with the Insular Government and in the Army."

In a letter to Gen. Bennet, October 19, 1921, Major General Grote Hutcheson wrote: "I feel it my duty as it is my pleasure, to advise you and to make record of my appreciation of your services while serving under my command at Camp Meade, Maryland, in the summer of 1919. "On my arrival I found you there awaiting assignment to duty. I also found an indescribable condition of chaos and disorganization in the demobilization Center; I immediately assigned you to command and reorganize that then important adjunct to the Camp's activities. "You at once took charge of the difficult assignment of reorganizing during operation, and soon the result of your effort was apparent; in a short time you had so completely placed the impress of your force and personality upon that activity that order replaced chaos, and efficient organization resulted. "The task was well performed, and demonstrated to me your ability to organize and force control. "It is a satisfaction to me to make this belated acknowledgment of your service, pronounced at a time when only results counted."

Major General John L. Hines, in a letter to Gen. Bennet, Sept. 21, 1925, said, "I observe from orders recently issued that you have passed from active duty to the retired list. On behalf of the service at large I wish to convey to you an appreciation of your long and faithful service, and to wish for you in your new sphere of life, happiness, health and prosperity."

In a letter Sept., 1930, addressed to his widow, Major Gen. Preston Brown, Acting Chief of Staff, writes: "The records show that Gen. Bennet was an energetic, capable, painstaking and reliable officer. In the performance of the many important duties assigned him, he demonstrated administrative and executive capacity and devotion to his chosen profession. His passing is deeply regretted throughout the entire service."

No better eulogy of the characteristics and services of this graduate of 1891, could be written than the above quotations from official records of more than thirty years. It is rare to find extending throughout a military career, so much and so universal praise of an officer by his superiors.

John B. Bennet entered the Military Academy with the Class of Ninety. He was turned back to Ninety-One and soon became one of its most popular members. While a cadet he displayed the same high ideals that afterwards characterized his commissioned service. His military qualities were early recognized by appointment as Corporal, then 1st Sergeant and finally Captain of the Corps of Cadets.

On August 12, 1891, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he married Nelly Dent Sharp, daughter of Colonel Alexander Sharp and Ellen Dent Sharp. The latter was the sister of Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, wife of President Grant. Three children were born of this union:

1. John Bennington at Ft. Logan, Colorado, July 11, 1892
2. Hiram Wrenshall, at Ft. Logan, Colorado, August 13, 1896
3. Alexander Sharp, at Denver, Colorado, July 6, 1899)

The first of these graduated from West Point in 1916 and served in France during the World War with the 1st and 77th Divisions. He rose to the rank of Major.

Hiram was graduated from Yale in 1917, attended the first training camp and passed through the War as a lieutenant of the 80th Division.

Alexander graduated from West Point November 1, 1918, and is now 1st Lieut. of the 17th Field Artillery. It is evident therefore that General Bennet not only left a wonderful legacy of duty well done but in addition, sons to carry on the best traditions of the Military Academy.

Another good officer and worthy graduate has passed! But he has left an enviable record of long, faithful and efficient service.

The following lines written and read during a reunion at West Point by a classmate, seem to apply especially,

"Through changing years on many ways you've fared
Defended by the spirit fostered here,
You've borne the test of faith and kept the pledge
According to your calling."


The photo and information on Colonel Bennet was provided by his grandson Michael B. Terry.

If you have research comments or additional information on this page e-mail them to: Joe Hartwell

This page was last modified on Saturday, June 23, 2007

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