Kyle Design Home Previous Letters-4/1863 - 6/1863 Next Letters-3/1864 - 6/1864 Civil War links Odds & Ends

Letters of a soldier

July 1863 - March 1864


Battle of Gettysburg
July 1-3, 1863

Gettysburg DeadApproximately 158,000 soldiers met to fight in this battle in a now famous small town in Pennsylvania. Lee's missing information from Jeb Stuart proved to be costly. He was never sure where the Federals were. Three days of battle ensued and heavy losses were had on both sides.

At end, it was a Federal victory from which the South never recovered. Lee had lost one third of his army and retreated back to Virginia. There were 51,000 estimated casualties.

Gettysburg Address


Lincoln needed this victory badly, and used it to deliver the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863.

July 17, 1863
Fort Keys, Gloucester Point, Virginia

Dear Wife,

Itake the pleasure of informing you that I have returned to the point in good health. I received your kind letters of the 5th and 9th, and was glad to hear from you. I am glad to hear that you are getting better and hope you will soon get well. Try to live contented and enjoy yourself the best you can. Put your trust in God and he will protect us.

We was out one month and was much exposed. We lost 3 men of the regiment. One died of fits and 2 strayed off and was picked up by the rebs. We left Baltimore store on Wednesday and marched within 3 miles of Barnhamville which made 21 mile that we marched through the mud and rain, and I gave out and stopped in a storehouse and stayed all night with about 20 others of different regiments. The men were strowed all along the road and next day we marched to Fort Magruder, 25 miles more, and Friday we came in to camp here, our home. The men love this place but we are now ordered to Washington to report to Gen. Keyes and we do not know where we are going. We are now ready.

Sunday, 6 o'clock

Monday, 3 o'clock a.m. we left for Washington. This afternoon it is raining. We are on a good boat and doing well. We arrived in Washington at 9:00 last night and do not know where we are going, but I will write as soon as I can. No more at present. Give my love to all. I still remain your true and loving husband.



On July 1 through the 7th, the 4th Delaware was on Expedition from White House, Virginia to the South Anna River. On July 2, they met with the enemy at Baltimore Cross Roads (Crump's Store, Baltimore Store), just south of the White House, close to Cold Harbor, Virginia.

White House Landing

White House Landing, Virginia

During the Campaigns in the East, Ulysses S. Grant was Commander of the Department of Tenn., waging the Vicksburg Campaign from Dec. 1862 to July 1863. On July 4, 1863, John C. Pemberton surrendered to Grant and Vicksburg never again celebrated July 4th, until 1944.

Stephen had three letters between July 17th and August 20th, 1863. While stationed at Washington, he talked about the riots in New York by saying, "They can't do much but destroy property and that will soon be stopped." He also told his wife, "... if any young men that are healthy inquires for me, tell them I am no friend to such cowards."

Mrs. Buckson apparently came to see Stephen, as he mentions her going home. The regiment then moved to Singsters Station, Virginia, and was scattered from Bullrun to Accotink on the railroad. He mentions several who are sick, one, Burnett, who has lock jaw bad.

Fairfax Station, August 20th, 1863

Dear wife,

Itake this opportunity of informing you that I received your kind letter of the 16th and was glad to hear from you. I am getting better. I have been very sick again. I eat some stewed apples and they made me sick but I shall be more careful and I think I shall soon get well. I have got a nice hospital tent to stay in and fixed up nice, and we have plenty to eat.

You said I did not send as much money as you expected but it is well I kept as much as I did for I can buy little things that I need, and it comes very handy, so there is good luck for good meaning people. Burnet is here now. He came yesterday. I do not expect you to come here for it would cost to much and there is no convenience for women and you could do me but little good, only I could see you, but you can write, Thank God for learning enough to write and the many blest institutions that we have enjoyed and as long as the Lord gives me health and strength I intend to support them, although it is a sacrifice to be parted from those we love, yet it is better than to let rebels rule if we can, but leave a free government to our children.

I am glad they have drafted so many rebs. It will take some of their money, but some of them will have to go. Denny Buck will not have to go. They drafted Clay Forkum. I wish you to tell me if he is in the home guards if you write to pap tell him all about me and that I received his kind letter but have been too unwell to answer it, but I will soon. You say the baby looks so nice and favors me, so I think it must take its smartness after me, too. I would like to see all of you. Give my love to Johnny. Tell him I am glad he is such a good boy and got back from the bay safe.

I am glad that you seem so lively sometimes. Your letters almost distract me. Now do not be troubled about my being sick for I tell you just how I am. I think Ellen did say grace before supper. It is a wonder you did whip John. I think you are getting better.

There is plenty of drafted men passes here for the army of the Potomac as this is the main railroad to the army. There was a fight on the Bull Run battle ground day before yesterday with Stewart's Cavalry our men taken 60 prisoners. I do not believe there will be much more fighting. I do not care if they do kill women if they will not go out of a town when they are ordered, but stay there to keep our men from shelling them. If I had my way I would burn Charleston women and all if they did not go out when ordered then for they are the meanest kind of rebs not that all are men but these. You have no idea. I think there is good women.

I must close. Give my respects to all. No more at present but still remain your true and loving husband, until death.



Lincoln issued the first Federal draft call the summer of 1863. All men between 20 and 45 were enrolled for 3 years.

Fairfax Court House

Fairfax Court House, Virginia

The campaigns of the Midwest and South saw more actions than the East during the summer and fall of 1863. Charleston, where succession had begun, was still a Confederate stronghold by August of 1863. The Union had failed to capture Charleston twice before. One Union assault on Ft. Wagner, July 18, 1863, headed by the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, was the basis for the movie Glory.

By early September, Ft. Wagner and Ft. Sumter, South Carolina, had been bombarded by the Union for more than a month.


Mills House, Charleston

The 4th Delaware volunteers had been assigned to The Department of Washington in July and were in the 22nd Corps until January 1864.


Fairfax Station, August 29th, 1863

Dear and loving wife,

Ireceived your kind letter today and was glad to hear from you but was sorry that you was sick. I hoped the baby was better. I hope these few lines will find you in good health. I am getting better. I shall soon be able to go on duty. I can eat my allowance.

Sept. 3

I have received your last letter but I have been waiting to get home, but having failed to get a furlough I concluded to write. I am not able to go about camp. I hope these few lines will find you all in good health. There is no news. I am still trying to put my trust in God. You must content yourself the best you can. Put your trust in God and live faithful.

I wish you would not be so long before you write for it is the happiest moment when I receive a letter from home and can hear from those I love. There is some good lessons to be learned by being away from home. The enjoyment of hearing from home and as I stroll around and see the desolation war has made, I often think of home and the dear ones and the prosperity of the country, and it brings joy to my heart to think that the war has not reached our homes and never will.

Here we see nobody that we know but we often see some person with a downcast look, their property having been destroyed and nothing to live on. I have no doubt that this war has ruined a great many innocent women from different causes some from necessity and some through fear. I do sincerely hope that this cruel war will soon close if it is the Lord's will, but I think sometimes that it will never close until every negro is set free, for I believe the Lord intends it and he will carry out his desires, but if our men can get Virginia the war will be over for North Carolina will come in herself. Do not be discouraged there is a better day coming.

Give my love to Johnny and all the rest and take a large portion for yourself. No more at present, but still remain your true and loving husband until death.


May God bless you.

On September 6, Confederate forces evacuated Ft. Wagner, but Charleston was to hold out until February 17, 1865, when the Rebels retreated from the threat of Sherman's Army marching north from Georgia.

Ft. Wagner

Federal Garrison inside Ft. Wagner

Union Camp

Union encampment on edge of Culpeper

Fairfax Station, Oct. 6th, 1863

Dear wife,

Ireceived your kind and welcome letter of the 20th and 30th. These are all the letters I have had since I left home. I was glad to hear you was well and that the children are well. I did get another letter but had forgotten it. I am getting better. I have been very sick. I never was as sick in my life as I was on last Wednesday and Thursday, but thank God he brought me out. He has a little more for me to do yet on earth and I want to make good use of the time. I am glad you have got a stove. You must see Mr. Haze and see if that house is to rent. You must forgive my short letter for I have nothing much to write about and my health is not in a condition to make me very lively. Give my love to Johnny and all my friends. Tell me if you ever get your money. I shall begin to think it is gone. Trust in God and may his blessings rest on you. No more at present.



By mid September, the Union turned its concentration to Chattanooga, Tenn. Lincoln transferred troops from Mississippi and Virginia to reinforce the Army of the Cumberland, against General Bragg's Army of Tennessee (which was joined by Longstreet).

Railroad, Culpeper

Orange and Alexandria Railroad, Culpeper, Virginia

Troops from Mead's Army of the Potomac were transferred by rail from Culpeper to Chattanooga. After General Rosecrans nearly lost, General Grant now had overall command of the area, and replaced Rosecrans with Generals' Thomas, Hooker and Sherman.

The fight for Chattanooga had begun.

Fairfax Station, October 15th, 1863

Dear wife,

I received your kind letter of the 11th yesterday, but not in time to answer it. I was glad to hear that you was all well, but you said you would write because you had nothing else to do. I am on duty again and am nearly well all only I am weak. I hope these few lines will find you all in good health.

There is plenty of news here now. The Army is all falling back but in good order. The cars has all stopped running any further than here, and only supply trains run here. The wagon trains commenced to come in here yesterday, and are still coming. Everything is of a stir here. They have been fighting in front since Friday. Mead crossed the Rapidan with the left of his force and about the same time Lee crossed higher up and tried to turn MeadŐs right flank and out of the wagon trains, but Mead instantly changed his base of operation and commenced falling back so as to cut Lee off and done it, and the trains are all safe. At the time Beaufort's cavalry engaged the right of Lee's army and Kilpatrick the left and were both surrounded at one time but managed to cut their way out with small loss although our army is falling back it is in good order and the rebs are getting the worst of it again.

Warren had a fight yesterday but we do not know the result. They expect a general engagement today somewhere about Manassas or Bull Run. It is reported that Brag has reinforced Lee and that Rosecrans is going to reinforce Mead and make an advance and that Foster has gone up the Peninsula with a force. It does not become me to say anything about the strength of our army at this time as this might fall into some hands that we would not like to get it. We may have to move somewhere maybe to the front. It is no use to blind it but do not trouble yourself. The same hand that has protected us is still able and willing to do it now, so let us put our trust in Him who is strong to save and mighty to deliver. There is no danger while the army is in good order and good spirits. They say Mead is very cool and says he is getting the rebs right where he wants them on his own ground and that he will give them what they want a decent flogging.

Our men brought in a lot of prisoners this morning and they are a hard looking heart-broken set of men. They say Lee had to fight or starve, that he would not get supplies much longer and was to try to get into Pennsylvania or Maryland as Brag failed to drive Rosecrans and you see if this is true they are bad off and Mead will not let Lee get further than Bull Runn. If I get any more news I will let you know as soon as possible. We can't get official news only from the papers and there is not much chance for that. I hear that the Union ticket is elected in Pennsylvania. I am glad of it. It is as good as defeat to one of the rebel armies.

Give my love to Johnny and all my friends. No more at present but still remain your loving husband until death and then I hope we will meet in Heaven where there is no more parting and no sorrow. May the Lord bless you all.


I am glad Lena is so much pleasure to you and that you are fixed for the winter.


Because Meade had sent troops to Chattanooga, Lee sensed he had an opportunity, and on Oct. 10th, sent troops across the Rapidan River to face Meade. The Federals fell back, and both armies moved north toward Centreville.

Rapidan River

Ford on the Rapidan River

During the Battle of Bristoe Station on Oct. 14th, Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill attacked Major Gen. Sykes, but was taken by surprise by Maj. Gen. G.K. Warren, who had appeared on his right.

General Hill lost 1,360 men, Warren 350. Lee withdrew on Oct. 18th.

G.K. Warren

General Gouverneur K. Warren


Fairfax Court House, October 17th, 1863

Dear wife,

I have just received your kind and welcome letter of the 15th and was glad to hear from you. To hear that you are all in good health and doing well. I am getting stronger all the time but I got weighed today and have lost 20 pounds since I left the point. We received marching orders on the 15th, and marched out here on the 16th. We are yet an independent regiment. Mead has whipped the rebs bad. They were deceived. They thought the Army of the Potomac was broken up and sent to Rosecrans and Mead has out generaled them this time. The rebs is on the run and Mead is after them. The pontoons has gone up again and I believe that the rebel army will be broken up in Virginia.

They had a fight on the 15 at Catlet Station between Manas Station Junction and Warrington Junction. The rebs marched at a charge but our men stood firm and waited until they come within 150 yards and then fired a volley that sent many a traitor to a traitor's grave. Their intention was to turn our right flank but they run into a wall of Union soldiers and the drafted men fought like men and only complained because they could not load as fast as the drilled soldiers.

Our company is on picket today, but I was left in camp.

(Note: This was on a separate sheet, but think it follows the above)

It rained all the time we were marching out here and we all got wet, but I feel very well today. We got our tents up last night, and soon started a good fire. I can not tell much about the movement of the army now, but you may rest contented for the rebs are foiled in this move. The whole wagon train is safe which the rebs has lost so many men in trying to capture. Our men taken 550 prisoners on the 9 days of this fight and killed 500 more, and I think we taken 30 pieces of artillery. I say we because I am in the army but I do not want the credit that belongs to more worthy soldiers, for we have not been in to it yet, but we are ready and waiting orders.

I think our chance to get home is as good as ever for we are now relieved from the station and not in any brigade and will not be needed in front. You see every time we move I am short of paper but if we stay here I can soon get more. I think I will close as you can get official news out of the papers. You had better take Mrs. Jones's house but I did not want you to rent it if you could help it.

I was almost heartsick on the 13th. News came that Major Woodel was killed but at night Lt. Macalester came in wounded in the knee and said he was the only officer wounded or in the regiment, and I tell you it made me feel glad for his parents. I do hope the Lord will spare all such men for I hear the men of his regiment say he is all the field officer they have worth anything.

Balance missing


Meade followed Lee as he moved south from Manassas. Kelly's Ford, south of Rappahannock Station, offered a good defensive line for the Federals as the north bank was higher.


Pontoons across the Rappahannock

On November 7th, the Federals crossed a pontoon bridge and captured 2 Confederate regiments and 1,800 prisoners. Lee began to fall back across the Rapidan.

Confederate Prisoners

Confederate prisoners

By the end of November, Meade could not advance his Army past Lee at Mine Run and withdrew back across the Rapidan.

With neither Army gaining in Virginia, and Bragg being defeated in Chattanooga, both sides ceased operations for the winter.

Gen. Meade

General George Meade

Fairfax Court House, Headquarters, 4th Del. Vol.
January 28th, 1864

Dear Wife,

It is again this beautiful morning that I am permitted to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you all well. We have nice weather now and it is so still here that it seems as if there is no war here. I was just thinking if you was with me I should be perfectly happy, but I believe the time will soon come when I shall be permitted to come home to enjoy your company. Give my love to Johnny and kiss him, and my best respects to all of our friends.

Mrs. Maclary sends her best respects to you and says she is coming to see you if she lives to do so. Her and Mrs. Burnet has fell out over a cup of coffee. You see Mrs. B. is getting very independent since Mr. B. has got to be captain. She has forgotten the past very soon, but it is so with the world. Past favors are soon forgotten.

There is no news of importance here. We do not know yet when we will be paid, but I expect now that it will not be till the first of March, but you must try and make out the best you can, and may the Lord bless you. I still feel willing to trust him as he has been our friend. He will not leave nor forsake us. Let us put our trust in God and live faithful, so that we may live with him. Now as I have written before I have not much to say. You must write as often as you can for I love to hear from home. I have written to pap since we left home, but he has never answered my letter. I would like you to let me know how they are and what they are doing. No more at present, but still remain your devoted husband.


1st Sergt. CO. G 4th Regt. Del. Vol.

P.S. Received your letter of the 24th. I am sorry that you are crippled, but the Lord's will be done.


The winter headquarters for the Army of the Potomac was at Culpeper, Virginia. Most living quarters were log huts in these more permanent camps.

Meade's Headquarters

Gen. Meade's Headquarters, near Culpeper, Virginia

Stephen said in a letter from Oct. 21, 1863 that they were an independent regiment, but remained at the Station. He said, "Everything is still here now."

Camp Scene

Fairfax Court House, Headquarters, 4th Del. Vol.
February 15th, 1864

Dear Wife,

As I have had no letter since I have written to you I thought I would let you know how I was getting along. I am well and still striving to serve God, and hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same blessings. Give my love to Johnny and all the rest of our friends.

Now I am going to tell you something you will not like at first, but you will think as I do when you understand it as I do. Col. Grimshaw is going to try to get a special order for the the 4th to re-enlist, so we can get the bounty, for if we do not we can get no bounty, but the $10 dollar bounty, as we have 18 months yet to serve I think that if we have to fight at all we will do it before our present time is out, and I believe that we will be discharged just as soon if we re-enlist as we would if we did not, for the negroes will be retained in the service with the regulars, so they will not want us but if they do keep us it will be but 18 months longer, so that will be 400 dollars for the extra 18 months, and not only that, the regiment will get 30 days furlough to home, and I would not like to be left behind to be put in any other regiment, and very likely to put in the ranks, so I think I had better go with the regiment. Now I know I promised you I would do nothing rashly, so I have thought over the matter and went to see the Col. to get his advice, and he told me he would stay with us and that it was the best thing we could do for the war would be over before our time was out this time, and that he was doing this for the benefit of the men of the regt. as they have had no bounty. Now this bounty would be a great help to us as we need all we can get as we are in debt, and I can not make that much in several years at home, and if I had to go to sea I should be from home, so I think I had better go in to it. Now I hope you will think over the matter justly and right putting your trust in God and answer this as soon as you can.

Give my respects to Mr. and Mrs. Knight. No more at present, but still remain your true and devoted husband,



The Federal Government had set quotas for each State for recruits. If the State did not meet its quota with volunteers, then the newly formed draft system would be used. Since the draft was not popular, the States would offer bounties for enlistment. The furlough came with re-enlistment.

Fairfax Court House

Fairfax Court House

Union Camp Scene

Union camp scene

Stephen had another letter dated March 11th, 1864 stating that they did not get the order to re-enlist. And although it is raining, his shanty is dry and warm.

Fairfax Court House, Headquarters, 4th Del. Vol.
March 17th, 1864

Dear Wife,

is with pleasure that I sit down to write to you a few lines to let you know how we are getting along. I am getting better of my sore throat. I am well every other way and I hope this will find all of you in good health and enjoying yourselves. We have some men sick in the regt., 1 case of smallpox and several of the measles, but there is good care taken of them, so that the disease will not spread.

James Scotten, one of our company, has been in the hospital in Alexandria ever since we left there and on the 11th of the month after he had been payed off he received a pass to go around town, and was murdered by some villain. He was knocked down and then his throat cut in three places and laid across the railroad track for the cars to run over to hide the deed, but was found before the cars came along and they have caught the man that did it, and today as the newsman was coming from Washington about three miles from our camp 10 rebs rushed out on him and 3 cavalry men and took them prisoners, but the newsman was not armed and they did not watch him very close and he picked a chance and sprung from his carriage on one of the rebs who had a double barreled gun and never let him up until he took the gun and then raised and shot him dead, and then turned and shot another and then our cavalry came up and the rest skedalled, so you see we have some fun some times down here.

We were paid off yesterday. I received 80 dollars. I shall send 60 home and I want you to take care of yourself out of that. I do not know how I shall send it yet. Manlove has got a furlough in and I shall wait a little while to see if he comes home. If he does I shall send it by him, if not I shall express it to Mr. Cannon. I do not think I shall try for a furlough this spring for it costs so much and there are so many trying to come. I would like to see you all very well. I would like you to come down if you can anyway, but if you cannot let us put our trust in God and he will bring us out all right for he has said so, so let us be faithful. Give my love to Johnny and all the rest of our friends. No more at present, but still remain your faithful and loving husband.



On March 9, 1864, U.S. Grant was given command of all Union Armies and made Lieutenant General.


Alexandria, Virginia

On March 23rd, 1864, President Lincoln reduced the Army of the Potomac to three Corps, releasing George Sykes, and putting in G.K. Warren to command the Fifth Army Corps.

Gen. SykesUpon leaving, Sykes wrote to the men of the Fifth Army Corps, "... in obeying an order so wholly unexpected, I, part from you with the profoundest regret ... We have shared all the campaigns of this glorious army, and for nine months it has been my pride and distinction to be your chief. The history of your achievements adds a luster to the history of your country." He ends with saying, "I part from you feeling assured that your manly virtues, courage, and patriotism will still be conspicuous in campaigns to come, and that the insignia borne upon your flags and worn upon your breasts will in the shock of battle always be found in the thick of your country's foes."

Grant arrived at Culpeper Court House on March 24, 1864.

Previous Letters-4/1863 - 6/1863 Next Letters-3/1864 - 6/1864

Company Roster


There are many places to collect information on the Civil War. Since I am in the Washington, D.C. area, I have the great advantage of the Government Archives, in additional to any books that can be found.

But for now, I would like to mention that most of Matthew Bradys' images of the Civil War are in the Public Domain, and can be found at the National Archives Picture Division in Tacoma Park, Maryland, or the Library of Congress, just to mention a few. All of the battlefields that Stephen Buckson mentions are also within the general Washington, DC area.

Much of the history written here is from various sources, the regimental history of the Fourth Delaware Regiment is from The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion and also from Institute for Civil War Research thanks to Mr. J.F. Walter.

Institute for Civil War Research
J. F. Walter
7913 67th Drive
Middle Village, NY 11379

National Archives

Library of Congress

National Park Service

U.S. Civil War Fact Sheets

National Civil War Association

Kyle Design Home Top Odds & Ends

© Copyright 1997-2013