Gen. Benjamin Ward Avent

Gen. Benjamin Ward Avent

Male 1812 - 1878  (66 years)

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  • Name Benjamin Ward Avent 
    Title Gen. 
    Born 1812  Greensville Co., Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 12 Sep 1878  Memphis, TN Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, TN, South Grove 149, #5 Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1899  avefamily
    Last Modified 2 Jul 2013 

    Father James Avent,   b. 9 Jan 1788, Sussex Co., VA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Oct 1866  (Age 78 years) 
    Mother Mary "Polly" Avent,   b. 23 July 1787, Aventon, Nash Co., NC Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Sep 1830  (Age 43 years) 
    Family ID F461  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Nancy Lytle,   b. 1816,   d. 1909, Memphis, TN Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years) 
    Married 9 Sep 1835 
    Children 
     1. Mary Tabitha Avent,   b. 1836, TN Find all individuals with events at this location
     2. Ellen Avent,   b. 1839, TN Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. William Lytle Avent,   b. 9 Apr 1842, Rutherford Co., TN Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Jan 1843, Rutherford Co., TN Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
     4. Benjamin Avent,   b. 1843, TN Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Nov 1868, Holly Springs, MS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 25 years)
     5. John S. Avent,   b. 1846, TN Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. Catherine Avent,   b. 1849, TN Find all individuals with events at this location
     7. Matthew Avent,   b. 1853, Rutherford Co., TN Find all individuals with events at this location
     8. James Avent,   b. 1855, Rutherford Co., TN Find all individuals with events at this location
     9. Blanche Lytle Avent,   b. 1859, TN Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 18 Oct 2007 
    Family ID F585  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Avent, Benjamin Ward (1812-1878)
    Avent, Benjamin Ward (1812-1878)
    Confederate General, Surgeon-General, Army of the Tennessee, Medical Doctor. Source: History of Medicine in Rutherford County by Robert G. Ransom, M.D.

  • Notes 
    • Died in the great yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, TN, in 1878 (said to be the worst yellow fever epidemic in American history). Rather than flee the city, as many did, he stayed behind to treat the sick and paid the price. The local newspaper wrote:

      "Dr. Avent, one of our best and oldest physicians, has paid the penalty of his devotion to duty. He died at his residence, 309 Vance St., September 12th."
      ======
      Dr. Benjamin Ward Avent (1872-1878) was born near Petersburg, Virginia, May 19, 1812. When he was quite young, his parents, James and Mary Avent, moved to Limestone County, Alabama. He received his literary education at LaGrange College, Alabama. The family moved to the Jefferson (Sixth) district of Rutherford County, Tennessee in 1830. The eighteen year old Avent then began a preceptorship in medicine under Dr. Frederick E. Becton of Murfreesboro. Dr. Becton was a well-recognized practitioner having received his M.D. degree from the University of Maryland in 1823, and was a charter member of of the Medical Society of Tennessee. Avent attend lectures at the University of Pennsylvania and enrolled at Transylvania University attending the sessions of 1832-1833 and 1833-1834, receiving his M.D. degree from Transylvania on March 14, 1834. His graduate thesis was "Scarlatina."

      Dr. Avent married Nancy Lytle of Rutherford County in 1835 and they had nine children. Dr Avent remained happily married to Nancy Lytle until his death in 1878. In 1841, he first started practicing in the Wilkinson Crossroads District and later moved his practice to Murfreesboro, of Rutherford County, Tennessee. He was associated with Dr. Samuel Watkins. In 1841 Dr. Avent associated himself with Dr. William R. Rucker. In 1860, he as associated in practice of medicine with Dr. Baskett. Dr. Avent was a member of the Medical Society of Tennessee from Murfreesboro and remained active in that society until the beginning of the Civil War.

      Dr. Avent was appointed surgeon general of the Provisional Army of Tennessee on May 10, 1861. He held this position until the Tennessee troops were formally turned over to the Confederacy. He was then appointed a surgeon in the Confederate States Army and served as medical director of the army corps of Gen. A. S. Johnson until the death of that commander. He then became the medical director of the army corps of Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and John C. Breckenridge which position he held until he was forced to exchange field for hospital duty as a result of an eye condition. He was then made post surgeon and served in the capacity until the close of the war. After the war, Dr. Avent returned to his family and practice in Murfreesboro.

      Dr. Avent received an appointment to the chair of principles and practice of surgery at the Memphis Medical Collegein 1866 which he accepted. In May 1866, he moved his family to Memphis and upon arriving in Memphis entered into a partnership with Dr. Dudley D. Saunders. The firm of Avent and Saunders was well known and highly respected until its termination in 1878. When yellow fever attacked Memphis, Dr. Avent stayed on active duty, providing assistance wherever possible to combat the devasting epidemic. Sadley, he contacted the fever on September 8, 1878 and died on September 12, 1878, just a few days later. He was one of the forty-two physicians who died of yellow fever in Memphis.

      His widow, Nancy Lytle Avent, continued to reside in Memphis. She later resided in the household of her daughter, Blanche Avent, where she died at the age of 93.


      Note. For more of the medical history of Dr. Avent see, The History of Medicine in Rutherford County by Robert D. Ransom, M.D.
      Sources:
      1. Personal research
      2. The History of Medicine in Rutherford County by Robert D. Ransom, M.D., p. 99.3. Rutherford County's Civil War by Barry Lamb, p. 16.
      ===================
      Physician and Surgeon General of the Army of Tennessee in CW. See 'Avents in American Wars' page for more.

      TN Historical Quarterly, vol 61:
      "...there was no difficulty in finding thoroughly qualified medical men to fill the positions of surgeons and assistant surgeons as rapidly as the regiments were organized. Dr. B.W. Avent of Murfreesboro, a man of ripe experience, great skill, and fine administrative powers was ppointed Surgeon General...Upon Dr. F's suggesting that Dr. B.W. Avent be left in charge of them (i.e., wounded men) the Gen. said "He is the man to leave with them..."
      ====================
      A Dr. Reed, of the US Army Sanitary Commission, wrote in his May, 1863 report of "...Dr. Avent, their Medical Director, a surgeon of unusual intelligence...".
      ==========================================
      ?Two Confederate Hospitals and their Patients: Atlanta to Opelika?, by Jack D. Welsh, p. 153

      ?Surgeon Benjamin Ward Avent. Born 1812, Petersburg, VA. Died 12 Sep 1878, Memphis, TN. M.D., Transylvania University, 1834. Commissioned Surgeon on 19 Jul 1861, and by 31 May 1863 was serving as a floater (assigned different duties). In charge of hospitals at Kingston, GA, 10 Jul 1863. Ordered to close Fairground Hospitals Nos. 1 and 2 on Feb 1865 at Opelika, AL."
      =========================
      It is speculative that Benjamin Ward Avent was the son of this James Avent, though much evidence points to this. 1850 Rutherford Co. TN census shows 3 Avents born in VA: Jas., b. 1788 (which agrees with other info regarding James, son of John), Benjamin W. Avent, b. in VA in 1812, and Washington Avent, b. 1820 in VA. This Benjamin Ward Avent was a physician & so was very likely the same as the Gen. B. W. Avent who was surgeon-Gen. of the Army of Tennessee. That this B.W. Avent was related to Mary (Polly) Avent is likely due to the fact that Mary (Polly), daughter of William Avent and Sally Ward of Aventon, NC, had a brother named Benjamin Ward Avent, so Mary (Polly), wife of James, might easily have named a son the same.

      Date of marriage to Nancy Lytle comes from "Rutherford Co. Marriages":

      Avant, Benjamin W. & Lytle, Nancy Sept 9, 1835

      Date of death is from an entry in the records of the Tenn. Med. Association. Birth is from census and is corroborated by the TMA record:

      1: Tenn Med Assoc. 1979 Mar;72(3):194. Related Articles, Links

      Benjamin Ward Avent (1812-1878).
      [No authors listed]
      Publication Types:
      Biography
      Historical Article
      Personal Name as Subject:
      Avent BW
      PMID: 372680 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
      ============
      1850 Rutherford Co., TN census:
      Benjamin W. Avent, 38, Physician, b. VA
      Nancy, 34, b. TN
      Mary T., 14
      Ellen, 11
      Benj., 7
      John S., 4
      Catherine, 1
      ====
      1860 Rutherford Co., TN, Murfreesboro, census:
      B.W. Avent, 48, MD
      Nancy, 44
      Ben, 15
      John, 12
      Cate, 11
      Matt, 7
      James, 5
      Blanche, 1
      ===================
      Unknown Confederate Dead State Historical Marker
      Located in the cemetery at Kingston, Ga.
      34.230782°N, 84.946581°W

      (Text)

      UNKNOWN CONFEDERATE DEAD

      Here sleep, known but to God, 250 Confederate and two Federal soldiers, most of whom died of wounds, disease and sickness in the Confederate hospitals located here -- 1862-1864.
      These men were wounded in the battles of Perryville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and in the Dalton-Kingston Campaign.
      Surgeon B.W. Avent was in charge of these hospitals. Hospitals were moved to Atlanta in May of 1864 to avoid capture by Federals. These hospitals later used by the Federals.

      008-40 GEORGIA HISTORICAL COMMISSION 1956
      ====
      The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Volume 32
      Mrs. Blanche Lytle Avent Macrae.
      DAR ID Number: 31898 Born in Memphis, Tennessee. Wife of George Whthe Macrae. Descendant of Capt. William Lytle, of North Carolina.
      Daughter of Benjamin Ward Avent and Nancy Taylor Lytle, his wife.
      Granddaughter of John Lytle (1788-1841) and Tabitha Morton (1791-1817), his wife, m. 1811. Gr.-granddaughter of William Lytle and Ann Taylor, his wife, m. 1787. William Lytle, (1755-1829), served as lieutenant and captain in the North Carolina Continental Line. He was an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati of North Carolina. Also Nos. 15306, 25905, 28849.

      The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Volume 37
      Mrs. Leila Morgan Murrell.
      DAR ID Number: 37087 Born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
      Wife of David Lindsay Murrell.
      Descendant of Capt. William Lytle.
      Daughter of Maj. Sam Winston Morgan and Mary Tabitha Avent, his wife.
      Granddaughter of Benjamin Ward Avent and Nancy Taylor Lytle, his wife.
      Gr.-granddaughter of John Lytle (1788-1841) and Tabitha Morton (1791-1817), his wife, m. 1811. Gr.-gr.-granddaughter of William Lytle and Nancy Taylor, his wife, m. 1787. William Lytle, (1753-1829), served as lieutenant and captain in the North Carolina Continental line. He was an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati of North Carolina. Also Nos. 15306, 25905, 28849, 31898.
      ====================
      from Ancestry.com, "Public Member Stories", "familyhistorycrw":

      "Dr. Benjamin Ward Avent (1872-1878) was born near Petersburg, Virginia, May 19, 1812. When he was quite young, his parents moved to Limestone County, Alabama. He received his literary education at LaGrange College, Alabama. The family moved to Rutherford County, Tennessee in 1830. The eighteen year old Avent then began a preceptorship in medicine under Dr. Frederick E. Becton of Murfreesboro. Dr. Becton was a well-recognized practitioner having received his M.D. degree from the University of Maryland in 1823, and was a charter member of of the Medical Society of Tennessee. Avent attend lectures at the University of Pennsylvania and enrolled at Transylvania University attending the sessions of 1832-1833 and 1833-1834, receiving his M.D. degree from Transylvania on March 14, 1834. His graduate thesis was "Scarlantina." The young doctor Avent began his practice of medicine near Murfreesboro and he moved into Murfreesboro in 1840. For more of the medical history of Dr. Avent see, The History of Medicine in Rutherford County by Robert D. Ransom, M.D.
      Dr. Avent married Nancy Lytle of Rutherford County in 1835 and they had nine children. Dr Avent remained happily married to Nancy Lytle until his death in 1878. Nancy removed to Memphis and resided in the household of her daughter, Blanche Avent where she died at the age of 93.
      Sources:
      1. Personal research
      2. The History of Medicine in Rutherford County by Robert D. Ransom, M.D., p. 99."