One of my first steps to learn more myself was to order his Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR), held by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), through Jay Odom at CivilWarDocs.com (you can read more about Jay and his service in a previous post, here). He came through quickly, as always.
You can never be sure how full or how slim a CMSR is going to be until you look at it. In the case of Benjamin Bartlett, it is rather slim (but I've seen less!), containing just a summary card, a company muster-in roll card, a handful of muster roll cards, a "Casualty Sheet," and a "Memorandum for Prisoner of War Records."
Still, the seeming dearth of records is pretty easy to explain, owing 1) to his rather short enlistment; he was mustered in September 1862 and died in August 1863; and 2) fully eight of those eleven months were spent as a prisoner of war (but I don't want to give too much of the story away just yet!).
Fortunately, we can still flesh out the life and service of Bartlett and the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry from some other sources, including a published regimental history (1886) and an excellent widow's pension file, also held by NARA, but available for online viewing via my Fold3 subscription (I will feature more documents from the pension file this week).
Bartlett - who, according to his wife, was "commonly called by his middle name, Frank" - then 24, was married to Hannah S. Bartlett (nee Goss), then 30, on May 20, 1855, in Roxbury, Massachusetts; their only child, Lizzie H. Bartlett, was born in 1861 and was only two years old when her father died.
The genesis and early history of the regiment is detailed in History of the Forty-Second Regiment Infantry Massachusetts Volunteers (1886) by Charles P. Bosson, once Sergeant-Major. You can read the regimental history at Google Books:
"Frank" Bartlett mustered in to the 42nd Regiment, Massachusetts State Militia, Company I, in September 1862. The regiment was then mustered into Federal service as the42nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in November 1862.
The regiment left Massachusetts for New York on November 11; sailed December 2 for New Orleans, La. (Cos. "D," "G" and "I") on the steamer "Saxon"; arrived at Ship Island December 14, and at New Orleans December 16. Companies "D," "G" and "I" again moved on the Steamer "Saxon" to Galveston, Texas, December 19-24, 1862. and occupied the city of Galveston on December 24.
The three companies were then involved in the Battle of Galveston, January 1, 1863, which is where I will pick up the story again...