September 15, 2005

Robert John Coffey

Coffey, Robert John, of Bennington, was born in the city of St. Johns, N. B., Dec. 15, 1842.

In 1853 he moved to Montpelier and received his education in the common schools of Montpelier and Morristown, living in that town from 1855 to 1859. In the spring of 1860 he attended the academy at Hyde Park one term.

At the breaking out of the war of the rebellion he was living in Montpelier and was one of the first volunteers from that town. He first enlisted in Co. F, 2d Vt. Regt., but receiving a chance to enlist in Co. F, New England Guards of Northfield he enlisted May 3, 1861, for three months and participated in the first important battle of the war at Big Bethel, June 10, 1861. In a few days after his return from the three months' service on Sept. 10 he enlisted for three years in Co. K, 4th Regt., and at the organization of the company he was made 3d sergeant and was always on duty until disabled by a wound Oct. 16, 1863, during which time he was engaged in the battles of Lee's Mills, several day battles in front of Richmond under General McClellan, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Banks Ford, Gettysburg, Funkstown and many skirmishes. At Banks Ford, he captured during the battle two confederate officers and five soldiers for which gallant exploit he has been awarded a medal of honor by Congress. While on picket duty near Centerville, he was badly wounded and disabled for further service and was mustered out at Brattleboro in 1864 with the remnant of the men that left the town three years before over one thousand strong.

In 1867 he was married to Demis Hattie Burnham; by this union they have had one child.
Soon after the war he became engaged in the hotel business; first at Waitsfield, Vt., and then for several years in Montpelier, Richmond and Windsor.

He is a staunch Republican in politics. When the Vermont Soldiers' Home was established in Bennington in 1887 he was the unanimous choice of the trustees for superintendent which position he has filled with satisfaction and credit. In 1873 he joined the G. A. R. and has been an active and prominent member of the order since, holding many offices in post and department. He is at present major and brigade provost marshal on the staff of Gen. Julius J. Estey and has seen nearly fifteen years service in the National Guard of Vermont.

He is a member of Aurora Lodge, No. 22, F. & A. M. of Montpelier and also a member of Mohegan Tribe, No. 6, of Bennington

Source: Jacob G. Ullery, compiler, Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont, (Transcript Publishing Company, Brattleboro, VT, 1894) Part II, p. 76 (See title link)

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