Sergeant Major Frank Bettis

Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry

Frank (Francis) A. Bettis preceded his elder brother Lawson in responding to Lincoln's call to preserve the Union. At the age of twenty-five, he enlisted on June 24, 1861 in the Fifth Iowa Infantry. (His brother Lawson would enlist in the Fifth Iowa Cavalry the following summer.) He was mustered into Company I on July 17, 1861. He must have had much in his favor, beyond his age itself, because the following month he was promoted to regimental Sergeant Major, a very prestigious position.

At this point a mystery arises, which could possibly be answered through a search of his military or pension records. The Official Roster records that he returned to his company on October 5, 1861, after only a month on the regimental Field and Staff. Why he chose to relinquish his rank, and serve out the war as a private, we do not know. Perhaps he missed the camaraderie of the ranks in his original company, or perhaps he detested the responsibility of the position into which he had been thrust. At any rate, he served for the duration of the regiment's existence, being mustered out on July 31, 1864, as the expiration of their term of service.

The following quotation comes from the State Government of Kansas for the years 1877 and 1878. It reveals that following his military service, Bettis continued to contribute to the wellbeing of the nation which he had risked his life to preserve.

F.A. Bettis of Oswego, Kansas was born in York County, Maine, in 1836, and was brought up at Galena, Illinois. Received an education in the University of Minnesota; was admitted to the bar in 1858 and practiced his profession in Iowa until the breaking-out of the Rebellion (Civil War) when he enlisted as a private soldier in the Fifth Iowa Infantry serving in that regiment for three years; at the close of the war was appointed to a position in the General Land Office at Washington, D.C. and was from thence transferred to the Bureau of Internal Revenue; having received an appointment as resident attorney of the Central Pacific Railroad, he resigned his position in the civil service; in 1869 he removed from Washington city to Oswego, where he has since resided, in the practice of his profession; though always an ardent and outspoken Republican, he has never in Kansas, taken part in politics in his own behalf until the fall of 1876 when he was elected to the House (Kansas House of Representatives.).

The Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry site is grateful to Payton's great-great-grandniece, Grace Anagnostou, for providing this biographical about a veteran and statesman.

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