Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 222 & 225
Benjamin W. Collins, of Sheboygan, a railway engineer, is a representative of one of the pioneer families of Sheboygan County, and is a veteran soldier of the War of the Rebellion. He was born in New Market Village, County Cork, Ireland, February 18, 1841. His father, James Collins, emigrated with his family to the United States in 1845, and located in Boston, Mass., where he died of sunstroke in July of the same year. The mother, whose maiden name was Julia A. Gorman, was left with two young boys in a strange land and among strangers. Soon after the death of the husband and father, the mother went with her two sons to Cumberland, Md., where a brother was then living. In Cumberland the mother was again married, her second husband being John Dooley. In March, 1853, the family left Maryland, crossing the Alleghany Mountains to Wheeling, Va. That was before the tunnel through the mountains was completed, and they made the journey over the mountain by the winding railroad then in use. From Wheeling the family removed to Bellaire, Ohio, and in July, 1855, they came to Sheboygan County. Their route was up the Ohio River to Wellsville, thence by railroad to Cleveland, and thence by way of the Lakes to Sheboygan, where they arrived on the 31st of July. The family located on a farm in the town of Greenbush, Sheboygan County. In 1866 they removed to a farm in the town of Mitchell, where the stepfather died in February, 1868, and the mother April 28, 1878. Michael J. Collins. the brother of the subject of this sketch, is a farmer by occupation.
Benjamin W. Collins enlisted August 15, 1862. in Company B, Twenty-seventh Regiment Wisconsin Infantry, and was mustered out of the United States service in Brownsville, Tex., August 29, 1865, and discharged at Madison, Wis., on the 17th of September following, after a service of over three years. Mr. Collins was constantly with his regiment during all that time, except from August, 1863, to January, 1864. The twenty-seventh has a most honorable record, and took an active part in many of the most important events of the war. The record, somewhat abbreviated, is as follows, as given by Mr. Collins: "Mustered into United States service March 7, 1863; went to Columbus, Ky., and thence down the Mississippi River, taking an active part in the siege of Vicksburg under Gen. Grant; went thence to Helena, Ark., leaving that place with Gen. Steele's force, and proceeded up White River and encamped at Duval's Bluff; went then to Little Rock and was attached to the Third Brigade, Third Division, Seventh Army Corps; left Little Rock on March 23, 1864, to co-operate with Banks in his Red River expedition; arrived at Archadelphia on the 29th and proceeded by way of Spoonville to Okolona, near the Little Missouri River, and on the 3d of April was engaged in a severe skirmish. On the 4th we joined the main army at Elkins Ferry, and participated in the battle of Prairie d' Anne on the 10th; on the 12th we proceeded across the prairie, and took part in the battle of Moscow on the 13th, arriving at Camden on the 16th. We left Camden on the 27th of April, on our way back to Little Rock, as soon as we heard of the defeat of Banks' expedition. After a toilsome march over horrible roads, in rainy weather, we arrived at, and took part in, the battles of Princeton on the 29th , and of Jenkins Ferry on the 30th of April; crossed the Saline River May 1, and marched without further interruption to Little Rock, arriving May 3; remained there until August 24, when the regiment left for Brownsville, Ark., returned to Little Rock September 14, 1864. February 7, 1865, we were ordered to New Orleans and were there attached to the Third Brigade, Third Division, Thirteenth Army Corps; left Mobile Point March 17, 1865, for Spanish Fort, and took part in the siege from March 27 to April 8. April 9 marched to Ft. Blakely, and thence back to Alabama City on the 11th of April; again to Ft. Blakely on the 14th, and on the 15th to Mobile; from there to various places in southern Alabama, along the line of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, returning to Mobile May 9, 1865. From there we sailed on the steamer "Clinton" for Brazos, Santiago, Tex., where the command arrived June 6; from there to Clarksville, and thence to Brownsville, where the muster out occurred at the time above mentioned."
Mr. Collins resumed farming on his return home, which he continued until 1871, when he began his career of railroading, on the construction of the Lake Shore Road. In February, 1874, he engaged as fireman on the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Railway, and in June, 1875, as engineer, and for eighteen years has been employed in that capacity.
On December 26, 1871, Mr. Collins was married to Miss Joanna Donahue, a daughter of Jeremiah Donahue, of the town of Mitchell. Mrs. Collins was born in Pottsville, Pa., June 17, 1850. Mr. and Mrs. Collins have eight children, five sons and three daughters, namely: James E., Joseph W., Benjamin W., Jeremiah F., Mary E., Joanna C., George L. and Catherine V. Mr. Collins and his wife have a pleasant home at No. 320 North Water Street. Mr. Collins also owns the old homestead in the town of Mitchell.
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