Military Wiki
Benjamin Kendrick Pierce
Pierce at the time of his 1817 wedding
Born (1790-08-29)August 29, 1790
Died April 1, 1850(1850-04-01) (aged 59)
Place of birth Hillsborough, New Hampshire
Place of death New York City
Buried at Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch U.S. Army
Years of service 1812-1850
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Brevet Colonel
Commands held Pierce’s Company of Artillery
Company O, 1st United States Infantry
Fort Holmes
Fort Mackinac
Fort Barrancas
Mounted Regiment of Florida Militia
Fort Delaware
Fort Hamilton
Fort Pierce
Plattsburgh Barracks
Hancock Barracks
Fort Adams
1st Regiment of Artillery
Battles/wars War of 1812
Second Seminole War
Mexican-American War
Relations Benjamin Pierce (father)
Franklin Pierce (brother)
John McNeil Jr. (brother-in-law)
Magdelaine Marcot (mother-in-law)
James B. Ricketts (son-in-law)

Benjamin Kendrick Pierce (August 29, 1790 – April 1, 1850) was a career officer in the United States Army. He was the son of Governor Benjamin Pierce and the brother of President Franklin Pierce. Benjamin K. Pierce was a veteran of the War of 1812, the Second Seminole War, and the Mexican-American War, and he attained the rank of Colonel by Brevet.

Early life[]

The eldest son of Governor Benjamin Pierce, and a direct descendant of Thomas Pierce (1618–1683), who was born in Norwich, England and settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Benjamin Kendrick Pierce was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire on August 29, 1790, and named for his maternal grandfather.[1][2][3] His father was determined that his sons receive college educations, and Benjamin K. Pierce attended Phillips Exeter Academy in preparation for admission to a university.[4] He studied at Dartmouth College from 1807 until 1810, when he was dismissed for carrying out pranks and practical jokes, including damaging a campus building by firing a loaded cannon during an 1810 Independence Day celebration.[5][6] He then studied law with Hillsborough attorney David Starrett to prepare for a career as a lawyer.[7]


War of 1812[]

At the outbreak of the War of 1812 Pierce was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery Regiment. He commanded a battery called Pierce’s Company of Artillery, and took part in several battles, including Fort Oswego, Fort Erie, Chippawa, and Lundy's Lane.[8][9][10]

Continued military service[]

Pierce remained in the Army following the War of 1812, serving primarily in the 1st, 3rd and 4th Artillery Regiments. He was promoted to Captain in October 1813,[11] Brevet Major in June 1823,[12] Major in June 1836,[13] and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel in October 1836.[14]

His post-war assignments included command of Company O, 1st United States Infantry (an Artillery unit), with frequent command of Fort Holmes and Fort Mackinac, depending on whether there were officers senior to him at Fort Mackinac[15] (1816-1821), Fort Barrancas[16] (1821-1824), Fort Delaware[17] (1827-1831), and Fort Hamilton[18] (1832-1834, 1834-1835, 1837-1838).

Pierce's brother John Sullivan Pierce and brother-in-law John McNeil Jr. were also in the Army and performing duty at Fort Holmes and Fort Mackinac during Pierce's time in Michigan.[19]

Second Seminole War[]

In addition to his Army commission, in October 1836 Pierce was simultaneously appointed a Colonel in the Florida Militia and assigned as the militia's Quartermaster General and commander of a mounted regiment of Creek Indians during the Second Seminole War.[20][21]

In the fall of 1836 Pierce was assigned to Fort Defiance and Fort Drane.[22] Seminoles under Osceola’s leadership were at war with white settlers in Florida, and massacred Major Francis L. Dade and his command.[23] In response, Pierce's command engaged and routed Osceola and his followers.[24]

At a subsequent battle in the Wahoo Swamp region south of the Withlacoochee River Cove, Pierce was part of a force which again defeated a sizable contingent of Seminoles. His commander mentioned Pierce favorably in his written report, which led to Pierce’s brevet promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.[25][26]

While commanding a contingent of the 1st Artillery Regiment on the Indian River in 1838, Pierce directed construction of a blockhouse and other buildings, and the post was named Fort Pierce in his honor.[27]

Later military service[]

After his service in the Second Seminole War, Pierce was assigned as commander of Plattsburgh Barracks.[28] In March 1842 Pierce was commander of Hancock Barracks, also called Fort Houlton in Maine when he was promoted to permanent Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st Artillery Regiment.[29] In June 1844 he was promoted to brevet Colonel in recognition of his superior service during the Second Seminole War.[30]

Mexican-American War[]

During the Mexican-American War Pierce initially commanded Fort Adams, which was used for mobilizing and demobilizing troops sent to Texas and Mexico during the conflict. He later led the 1st Artillery Regiment from the United States as far as the Port Isabel, Texas mobilization station, but ill health prevented him from commanding actively in Mexico. He subsequently commanded the Fort Barrancas post at Pensacola, until continued ill health resulted in his transfer to posts in the northern United States.[31][32][33]

Death and burial[]

In the final months of his life Pierce’s health failed as the result of his long military service under difficult conditions, and he resided in a hospital in New York City.[34]

Pierce died in New York City on April 1, 1850. He was originally buried in the military cemetery at Fort Jay on Governor's Island. All the remains there were later re-interred in Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, and Pierce is buried at Section OS, Site 20. His daughter Elizabeth Boykin Pierce is buried with him, and her grave is unmarked except for the words "his daughter" on the back of Pierce's gravestone.[35][36]


Pierce was married three times. While commanding Fort Mackinac in 1817 he married Josephine “Josette” Laframboise. Josette Laframboise’s father was Joseph Laframboise, a French-Canadian fur trader and merchant, and her mother was Magdelaine Marcot, a fur trader and the daughter of a French Canadian father and Odawa Indian mother. Josette Laframboise was born in 1795 and died in childbirth or shortly after giving birth in 1820.[37][38]

In 1823 Pierce was serving in Pensacola, Florida when he married Amanda Boykin in Alabama. She was born in 1805 and died at Fort Delaware in January 1831.[39] Her funeral took place in early February, and afterwards the coffin containing her remains was stored in a building at Fort Delaware. That same night a fire broke out, and Pierce along with four of his soldiers braved the flames to remove the remains, enabling them to be buried in the spring. Much of the post burned, but Pierce and his soldiers were able to protect his children by keeping his quarters from catching fire.[40]

Pierce was the commander at Plattsburgh Barracks in 1838 when he married Louisa Gertrude Read of Delaware, the great-granddaughter of Declaration of Independence signer George Read.[41] She died in 1840.[42]

Pierce’s children with Josette Laframboise included Harriet Josephine Pierce (1818-1854) and Benjamin Langdon Pierce (1820-1820).[43] Harriet Pierce was raised primarily by the Laframboise family after her mother's death, and was the wife of General James B. Ricketts.[44] Mary Brewerton Ricketts, the daughter of Harriet Pierce and James Ricketts, was the wife of General William Montrose Graham.[45]

With Amanda Boykin, Pierce’s children included Elizabeth Boykin Pierce (1827-1847), Charlotte Boykin Pierce (1828-1852), Henry Jackson Pierce (1829-1830), Amanda Boykin Pierce (1830-1857), and Benjamin Kendrick Pierce, Jr. (born and died in 1831).[46]


As the result of his father’s service in the American Revolution, Pierce was a hereditary member of the Society of the Cincinnati. After his death he was succeeded by his brother Franklin.[47]

Pierce was highly regarded by his contemporaries, and Army records contain commendations from superiors Jacob Brown, Richard K. Call, and Thomas S. Jesup.[48][49]

The post Pierce founded on the Indian River in Florida during the Second Seminole War was christened Fort Pierce by his subordinates, one of whom wrote that “our worthy commander” had earned the distinction by superior performance of his duty.[50]

Fort Pierce, a settlement near the site of Pierce’s Indian River fort was founded as a town in the 1860s and incorporated as a city in 1901, and is named for him.[51]

Pierce owned land in Michigan which was later developed as part of the town of Birmingham, but he never resided there. In addition to Pierce Street in Fort Pierce, Birmingham's Pierce Street and Pierce Elementary School are all named for Benjamin K. Pierce.[52]

Pierce is the subject of a short biography, Louis H. Burbey’s Our Worthy Commander: The Life and Times of Benjamin K. Pierce, in Whose Honor Fort Pierce was Named (1976).[53] In addition, Pierce is the subject of a second work, 2014's Searching for Lt. Col. Benjamin Kendrick Pierce, by Thomas and Margaret Lee.[54]


  1. Browne, George Waldo (1921). The History of Hillsborough, New Hampshire, 1735-1921: History and Description, Volume 1. John B. Clarke Company. p. 248. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  2. McMechan,, Jervis Bell (1976). The Book of Birmingham. Bicentennial Committee of the Birmingham (Michigan) Historical Board. p. 35. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  3. Historical New Hampshire, Volumes 59-61. New Hampshire Historical Society. 2005. p. 17. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  4. Smith, Charles James (1841). Annals of the Town of Hillsborough, Hillsborough County, N.H. From its First Settlement to the Year 1841. J. C. Wilson. pp. 32–33. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  5. Covell, Ann (2013). Jane Means Appleton Pierce: U.S. First Lady (1853-1857): Her Family, Life, and Times. Hamilton Books. p. 53. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  6. Miriam Stover, Thomas (November 16, 1968). "Franklin Pierce, 14th President, was Bowdoin Graduate". Lewiston (Maine) Journal Magazine. p. 4-A.,1869704. 
  7. Historical New Hampshire, Volumes 59-61. New Hampshire Historical Society. 2005. p. 17. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  8. Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe (1855). Discovery of the Sources of the Mississippi River. Lippincott, Grambo and Co.. p. 58. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  9. United States House of Representatives (1857). 34th Congress, 3rd Session, Report 219, Committee on Invalid Pensions. Cornelius Wendell. p. 31.'s%20company%20of%20artillery%22&f=false. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  10. Pierce, Frank H. (May 1878). "Hillsborough". H. H. Metcalf. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  11. United States Senate (1828). Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States, 1st to 19th Congresses, Volume II. Duff Green. p. 481. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  12. United States Army, United States Navy (1830). Register of the Army and Navy of the United States. Peter Force. p. 43. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  13. "Army of the United States, General Order No. 46: Promotions". R. Niles. July 30, 1836. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  14. "Headquarters of the Army, General Order Number 74, November 1, 1836: Promotions". B. Romans. November 10, 1836. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  15. Wood, Edwin Orin (1918). Historic Mackinac: The Historical, Picturesque and Legendary Features of the Mackinac Country, Volume 2. The MacMillan Company. p. 118. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  16. MIley, Charles S. (1980). Miley's Memos. Indian River Community College Historical Data Center. p. 43. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  17. Temple, Brian (2003). The Union Prison at Fort Delaware: A Perfect Hell on Earth. McFarland & Company, Inc.. p. 5. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  18. "Commanders of Fort Hamilton 1831-1987". Harbor Defense Museum of Fort Hamilton. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  19. Kelton, Dwight H. (1882). Annals of Fort Mackinac. State Historical Society of Wisconsin. p. 75. 
  20. Robbins, James S. (2006). Last in Their Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point. Encounter Books. p. 42. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  21. Browne, George Waldo (1922). The History of Hillsborough, New Hampshire, Volume II: Biography and Genealogy. John B. Clarke Company. p. 461. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  22. Walton, George H. (1977). Fearless and Free: The Seminole Indian War, 1835-1842. Bobbs-Merrill. p. 129. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  23. Tucker, Spencer C., Editor (2010). A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East. p. 1161. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  24. New Hampshire Adjutant General (1861). The Military History of the State of New-Hampshire, 1628-1861. State of New Hampshire. pp. 290–291. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  25. Collum, Richard Strader (1890). History of the United States Marine Corps. L. R. Hamersly & Co.. p. 70. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  26. Spencer, Jesse Ames (1913). The United States, Volume VI. American Educational Allicance. p. 483. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  27. McCarthy, Kevin M. (2007). African American Sites in Florida. Pineapple Press, Inc.. p. 247. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  28. Seward, William H., et al. (1839). Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volume 6. E. Croswell. p. 10. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  29. Tyler, John, et al. (1887). Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States, Volume 6. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 90. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  30. Tyler, John, et al. (1887). Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate, Volume 6. p. 330. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  31. Lewis, Felice Flanery (2010). Trailing Clouds of Glory: Zachary Taylor's Mexican War Campaign and His Emerging Civil War leaders. University of Alabama Press. p. 260. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  32. Polk, James K., et al. (December 8, 1846). Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress at the Commencement of the Second Session of the Twenty-Ninth Congress. Ritchie & Heiss. p. 72. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  33. Duchesneau, John T., Troost-Cramer, Kathleen (2014). Fort Adams: A History. The History Press. p. 36. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  34. Leech, Wilmer Ross (1917). Calendar of the Papers of Franklin Pierce. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 27. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  35. B. K. Pierce at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, Nationwide Gravesite Locator, retrieved September 17, 2014
  36. Benjamin Kendrick Pierce at Find a Grave, retrieved September 17, 2014
  37. Josephine Laframboise Pierce at Find A Grave, retrieved September 17, 2014
  38. Wentworth, John (May 21, 1881). "Fort Dearborn: An Address Delievered Under the Auspices of the Chicago Historical Society". Fergus Printing Company. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  39. Amanda Boykin Pierce at Find A Grave, retrieved September 17, 2014
  40. Fetser, Dale; Mowday, Bruce Edward (2000). Unlikely Allies: Fort Delaware's Prison Community in the Civil War. Stackpole Books. pp. 10–11. 
  41. Delaware Genealogical Society (1995). Delaware Genealogical Society Journal, Volumes 8-10. Wilmington, DE: Delaware Genealogical Society. p. 68. "Louisa Gertrude Read, 1814-1840, daughter of George Read III, 1788-1836, grandson of George Read, a signer of the Declaration of Independence." 
  42. Louisa Gertrude Read Pierce at Find A Grave, September 17, 2014
  43. Josephin Laframboise Pierce at Find A Grave, retrieved September 17, 2014
  44. Harriet Josephine Pierce Ricketts at Find A Grave, retrieved September 17, 2014
  45. Mary Brewerton Ricketts Graham at Find A Grave, retrieved September 17, 2014
  46. Amanda Boykin Pierce at Find A Grave, retrieved September 17, 2014
  47. Drake, Francis Samuel (1873). Memorials of the Society of the Cincinnati of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati. pp. 424–425. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  48. Widder, Keith R. (1973). Reveille Till Taps: Soldier Life at Fort Mackinac, 1780-1895. Mackinac Island State Park Commission. p. 11. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  49. Miley, Charles S. (1980). Miley's Memos. Indian River Community College Historical Data Center. p. 43. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  50. Wilson, Jean Ellen (2014). Legendary Locals of Fort Pierce. Arcadia Publishing. p. 7. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  51. Taylor, Robert A. (1999). World War II in Fort Pierce. Arcadia Publishing. p. Introduction. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  52. Lee, Thomas; Lee, Margaret (2014). Searching for Lt. Col. Benjamin Kendrick Pierce. Blurb Books. pp. 12–13. 
  53. Burbey, Louis H. (1976). Our Worthy Commander: The Life and Times of Benjamin K. Pierce, in Whose Honor Fort Pierce was Named. Indian River Community College Historical Data Center. p. Title page. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  54. Lee, Thomas and Margaret (2014). Searching for Lt. Col. Benjamin Kendrick Pierce. p. Title page. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 

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