Joseph Henderson Behee


Joseph Henderson Behee enlisted in the Union Army in Missouri in 1862 at the age of 17. He was assigned to the 2nd MO. Cavalry, more commonly known as 'Merrill's Horse'.. Col Lewis Merrill was an outstanding officer, getting rid of sabers and giving his men revolvers. He went against army regulations and had each company under his command riding its own color of horse so in battle, he could see who needed help!   Joseph was in company 'F', color of hoses unknown. 'Merrill's Horse' spent the most of the war chasing Quantrill around the border states. Joseph Behee was wounded at the battle of Little Rock, Arkansas and was assigned to an artillery unit until recovered enough to ride again.  He was present at Lee's surrender and discharged in Sept 1865 at Chattanooga, TN. Col. Merrill's farewell address to his men is a timeless speech, urging his men who served so nobly to move on with life and to enjoy and prosper in their lives.

He spent the rest of his life in Kansas City, MO and Leavenworth, KS working as a carpenter and pattern maker in foundries, making wooden patterns for sand molds to cast steel parts for machinery. He also was a 'luthier' making violins and guitars. Joseph patented a unique guitar in 1901 called a 'Behee Lyric Guitar' a 12 string instrument. Gregg Miner's lyric guitar website has 38 pages dedicated to the Behee guitars and family history. 

Joseph was a charter member of the George Armstrong Custer Chapter of the G.A.R. and served as its commander for at least one term. When Joseph enlisted in the Union Army in 1862 he signed his enlistment papers with an 'X', indicating he was illiterate. When he was discharged, he signed his name, indicating he was literate. The family is most fortunate to have his original discharge papers. Joseph served as a city councilman in Leavenworth and was awarded several patents using his skills to make complicated drawings. He drew a pension from the government until he passed in 1926 in Leavenworth, KS. He is buried with his wife Elizabeth in Mount Muncy Cemetery in Leavenworth, KS. He does not have a military headstone as his son Joseph H. Behee Jr. was a well known stone mason making headstones. 

Jr. patented the process of sandblasting letters into headstones and gave the rights to his employer. The entire Behee family buried in the family plot, has the same flush black granite headstones made by Joe Jr.!


If you think this Union Civil War Veteran might also be in your family tree, please email ancestors@suvpnw.org and we will be happy to put you in contact with the author of this biography.

Notice: The information in the biography above has been researched and provided by the author and has not been verified by the SUVCW or the ASUVCW.