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Letters of a soldier

Charles City Court House, Va
June 15, 1864

Dear Wife,

Iis with pleasure that I sit down in the open wheat field of a rebel under the shadow of my shelter tent to inform you that I am well except a little sore from the long marches, but I still feel willing to bear all that befalls me for I believe the cause is just and in God is my trust. I never knew what religion was before. It is everything that a man wants. It is good to know that we have a kind Creator who cares for us.

Night before last I had to fall back on the march to the rear of the column and part of the time I was alone as far as earthly friends was concerned for we was amongst the rebs, but I felt that Jesus was more precious to me than ever before since I have been in the service. So let us still continue to put our trust in God and he will bring us out more than conqueror.

I hope these few lines will find you all in good health. Give my love to Johnny and kiss him and Lena for me. I would like to see you all but that is impossible at present, but I believe this summer will end the war. I left the White house on the 9th and came to the regiment on the 10th. I felt it my duty to go to the regt. although I could have stayed there. Grant has changed the base of supplies to the south side of the James River and we are laying one mile from the river waiting to cross. We shall go up to Petersburg, I expect, but I do not know, for things are uncertain here. Keep up your spirits and trust in God.

When I come to the regiment it laid at the railroad bridge on the Chickahomony river on the Richmond and West Point railroad, doing picket duty in sight of the rebs, and could talk with them. Some of them are dissatisfied and some are bitter on the Republicans for they have still got the negro on the brain.

The weather is nice here today and it is pleasant in the shade. Give my respects to all our friends. You will have to borrow money of somebody for I can't help you until I am paid off, and I believe that Richmond must soon fall and then we will stop long enough to be paid.

No more at present, but still remain your loving husband,

Signature

Co. G, 4th Dela. Vol. 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, 5th Corps.


Stephen T. Buckson
Stephen Taylor Buckson

Charles City Court House
June 13, 1864

History

Petersburg, June 1864

The Confederate defense of Petersburg was in the hands of General Pierre G.T. Beauregard. His small number of troops were able to hold off the Federals from June 15 to June 18th, 1864 until reinforcements arrived.

Union before PetersburgStephen was with the 5th Army Corps under commanding officer Major General Gouverneur K. Warren, Fourth Division - Brig. General Lysander Cutler, 2nd Brigade - Col. J. William Hofmann of the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry, 4th Delaware - Lt. Col. Charles E. Lamotte. This brigade included the 3rd Delaware, 4th Delaware, 76th New York, 95th New York, 147th New York, 56th Pennsylvania and the 137th Pennsylvania.

At midnight on June 16th, 1864, Warren's 5th corps arrived at the lines. On June 17th, Beauregard pulled his line back to the outskirts of Petersburg.

June 18, 1864

At dawn, approximately 70,000 Federal troops advanced to find empty trenches abandoned the night before by Beauregard. Lee arrived around 11 am to support him. General Lee had no other option than to defend Petersburg. The Confederates had surrounded it with such fortifications, that this was only the beginning of 10 months of grueling trench warfare.

June 19, 1864

Mrs. Stephen T. Buckson,

I all have to mourn the loss of your husband Stephen T. Buckson, who was killed while charging on the enemy rifle pits June 18, 1864. His remains have been taken care of the best we could.

We can offer you only our heartfelt sympathy at the loss of one who is so near to you.

Yours,

Alex Harper

Petersburg Dead

Union Soldier in Petersburg Trenches

History

The Official Reports from the Battlefield:

No. 133.
Report of Brig. Gen. Lysander Cutler, U.S. Army, commanding Fourth Division. Headquarters Fourth Division, Fifth Army Corps.

At 4 p.m. the 13th (June) I was ordered to move on to Charles City and to take charge on the trains of the corps on the march . . . and intrenched within about 600 yards of the enemy's works. At daylight on the 18th I was ordered to move on the enemy's works . . . At 2:50 p.m. an order was received to advance on the enemy's works; at 3 o'clock an order saying the movement was general. I immediately put my command in position to advance and at 3:30 moved forward, my Second Brigade (Colonel Hofmann) leading, supported by my First Brigade (Colonel Bragg). General Ayres, of the Second Division, did not receive the order in time to enable him to move simultaneously with me. My command suffered severely both by direct and flank fire of both infantry and artillery, and though a part of both brigades got within about seventy-five yards of the enemy's works they were unable to carry them.

. . . In this affair I lost in killed and wounded about one-third of the men I had with me, and among them many valuable officers. After intrenching I remained in the same position to the close of the month.

 

No. 135.
Report of Col. J. William Hofmann, Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Second Brigade. Hdqrs. Second Brig., Fourth Div., 5th Army corps.

At 3 p.m. the brigade was formed to charge the works of the enemy, then about 700 yards in our front. In order to reach the enemy's works it was necessary to cross a ravine about 200 yards in front of the works. The line moved forward with spirit. The enemy immediately opened with musketry and spherical case, and, as we approached nearer, with canister. When the line had arrived near the ravine the loss had already been very great, for the troops were exposed to a fire not only in front but upon both flanks. As the line was descending the near slope of the ravine it broke; many returned. About 200 reached the opposite slope of the ravine, where they found shelter by lying close to the ground.

The brigade had suffered a very heavy loss in killed and wounded. Of the seven regimental commanders, Lieutenant Colonel Dorrell, commanding Third Delaware Volunteers, was killed. The command then devolved upon Captain McKaig. Capt. O. Mumford, commanding Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, was killed, and the command devolved upon Lieutenant Baker; Colonel Grimshaw, commanding Fourth Delaware Volunteers, was severely wounded, and the command devolved upon Lieutenant Colonel La Motte, who was also slightly wounded, but remained on the field.

The brigade occupied the works up to July 31, being relieved by and relieving in turn every three days . . . loss very heavy; over 300 killed and wounded; about 1,300 engaged; loss each day from sharpshooters has been very heavy, amounting in all to 102 men.

Col. Hofmann's 2nd Brigade, 4th Delaware, lost in this battle:
21 men killed, 4 officers & 87 men wounded.

During their careers, the 4th Delaware sustained the loss of 4 officers and 80 enlisted men, and 1 additional officer and 79 men died from disease or other non-battle related causes.

After these operations against Petersburg, the 4th Delaware remained with the Army of the Potomac, and where present at the Surrender by General Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

They participated in the Grand Review of Eastern Armies in Washington on May 23, 1865, and where mustered out of Federal service on June 3, 1865.

 

Stephen's wife and children

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Company Roster

Reference

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
ICWRJOHN@aol.com

National Archives

Library of Congress

National Park Service

U.S. Civil War Fact Sheets

National Civil War Association

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