John Benton Callis

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For the 16th century Welsh pirate, see John Callis (pirate).
John Benton Callis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 5th district
In office
July 21, 1868 – March 3, 1869
Preceded by District inactive
Succeeded by Peter Myndert Dox
Personal details
Born John Benton Callis
(1828-01-03)January 3, 1828
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Died September 24, 1898(1898-09-24) (aged 70)
Lancaster, Wisconsin
Political party Republican

John Benton Callis (January 3, 1828 – September 24, 1898) was an American businessman from Lancaster, Wisconsin who served as an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War and as a postbellum U.S. Representative from Alabama.


Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Callis moved to Tennessee in 1834 with his parents, who settled in Carroll County, and thence, in 1840, to Lancaster, Wisconsin. He attended the common schools. He studied medicine for three years, but then abandoned its further study. He went to Minnesota in 1849; moved to California in 1851 and engaged in mining and the mercantile business. He went to Central America in 1853. He returned to Lancaster in the fall of that year and again engaged in mercantile pursuits.

In the Civil War[edit]

Etching of John Benton Callis

He helped form the Lancaster unit that became Co. K of the Seventh Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. When the unit was Federalized, he entered the Union Army as a lieutenant, and was promoted to captain, August 30, 1861. The Seventh Wisconsin was part of the famed "Iron Brigade of the West." Due to the high casualty rate among its officers, Callis led the regiment at the Battle of South Mountain, Antietam and several other engagements. He was promoted to Major on January 5, 1863. He was shot in the chest on the first day at Gettysburg and lay on the battlefield until the Confederate withdrawal three days later. After a lengthy recovery, he rejoined the Army and was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln military superintendent of the War Department at Washington, D.C., in 1864. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel February 11, 1865.

In Alabama[edit]

Following the war, he settled in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1865. He resigned his commission in the Regular Army on February 4, 1868. Upon the readmission of the State of Alabama to representation Callis was elected as a Republican to the Fortieth Congress and served from July 21, 1868, to March 3, 1869. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1868.

Return to Wisconsin[edit]

He returned to Lancaster and engaged in the real-estate business.

He was elected to a single one-year term in the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1874 as part of the short-lived Liberal Reform Party.

He retired from active pursuits, and died in Lancaster on September 24, 1898. He was interred in Hillside Cemetery.

Callis was the uncle of Marine Corps Commandant George Barnett.


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
District inactive
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 5th congressional district

July 21, 1868 - March 3, 1869
Succeeded by
Peter Myndert Dox

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website