As you can see Stephen
joined the Union Army of volunteers, he originally was serving in the Middle
Department in Baltimore and eventually became part of the Army of the Potomac.
This is the first letter that remained:
wifes' name was Harriet Ann Muncy Buckson
Seward, November 23, 1862
Camp Seward, Virginia, Near Washington, D.C.
General Ambrose Burnside
McClellan was replaced (by Lincoln) on November 7, 1862 with General Burnside. He started a campaign against the Confederate Capital Richmond by way of Fredericksburg. The Federal Army of the Potomac arrived on the bank of the Rappahannock River, across from Fredericksburg on November 17th with approximately 115,000 soldiers. There were only a few Confederate soldiers to challenge them. Movement was delayed for seventeen days while waiting for the supplies to build a pontoon bridge across the river, giving Lee time to send in more troops.
Gilpin, Jan. 11th, 1863.
We expect to get paid off this month. I have everything that I need but post stamps and everything to make me happy except the presence of those I love and some of your grumbling letters. You know as well as I do that I did not leave you with the intention of letting you suffer. I think more of myself than that and you know it. I felt it my duty to serve my country and you will see the day that you will be glad of it. I told you in the last letter that I received your presents. I do not believe that you have to live alone long after you move for I believe that the war will soon be over. The negroes are all free and they are putting them in the service and making them do all the hard work cutting wood and building fortifications. There is already several regiments in the field and they are coming over fast. It is going to weaken the south more than anything else that could be done. They will have to till their land theirselves and their soldiers are deserting and coming in to our lines every day, and they look very hard, half clothed and half starved. The troops on the other side of the river made a reconnoissance within 12 miles of Richmond last week and captured about 10 thousand dollars worth of rebel property.
You say you have no desire to live but I do hope to see better days, but if it should be the will of God that we should never meet on earth let us live so that we may meet in Heaven where there is no more parting. You say that you have no one to care for you. You ought not to talk that way for I assure you that I do care for you and I think it is enough for me to be parted from you without your talking so cold to me. I did not think that one like you could serve me so while I am trying to uphold the free institutions which our fore-fathers fought and died to uphold. You know that I had rather be at home with you but my country calls me away. It is to our credit not to desert if we never get any pay. We are not fighting for negroes but our country and if you are a mind to listen to peace men like Samuel Moore do it, just such men are worse than the devil himself. Now I do not want to hear such stuff.
Tell Mrs. Burnet
that Jimmy is well.
We are all well. I caught a lot of oysters yesterday. We had preaching
here this morning. We have a regimental church here and we have all
joined it and I am still striving to serve the Lord and I feel the benefit
of religion more than ever. If often gives me more pleasure than anything
else. I have a hope of meeting with those that have gone before. Let
us put our trust in God. He has been our friend and never will forsake
us. We think it likely that we shall stay here all the time if we do
we ought to be thankful if we never see no worse times than we have
we shall be blessed. I believe the Lord provides let us therefore trust
Him. I have taken some verses from the Smyrna Times that I believe were
written by Brother Chatham on the death of Sally.
If he did not I think if very appropriate. I want you to write soon
and let me know all about how you are getting along and the times are.
I have just been taking a walk along the river and out in the country
and it is the nicest place that I have ever seen, and I was thinking
that while I was enjoying myself you was grieving over me for fear that
I was suffering. Now do not trouble yourself. If I could know that you
was happy I should be perfectly happy. I hope the next letter I get
from you that you will be better contented. I hope you will try to be.
Direct your letter as before. No more at present but still remain yours
truly and ever faithfuly husband until death,
Burnside with Officers
While Burnside waited for his supplies, Lee had gathered 75,000 men in Fredericksburg commanded by Stonewall Jackson, A.P. Hill and James Longstreet. The men doing picket along the river during this time were close enough to carry on conversations and trade supplies with little boats that they floated across the river to one another.
On December 13, 1862, Burnside crossed the Rappahannock to fight the Battle of Fredericksburg. The Commander was George Meade with Joshua Chamberlain and Joseph Hooker. Lee's men were stretched along a six and one half mile line, well fortified.
Fredericksburg ruins, December 11, 1862, from Union bombardment across the river
A stone wall and sunken road, that ran along the base of Marye's Heights, proved an effective cover for the confederates. After fierce fighting, Burnside finally withdrew back across the river. The Union had lost 12,600 men, the Confederates, 5,300.
The Army of the Potomac was encamped at Falmouth, Virgina in early January 1863. Conditions were poor. Burnside marched the Army north long the river to try to attack the Conferderates' on the left. But due to heavy rain and mud, he halted his "Mud March." A short time later, Lincoln replaced Burnside with Joseph Hooker.
Gilpin, Feb. 7th, 1863.
We have just heard that Thomas Reeves is dead.
The Army of the Potomac spent the Winter regrouping around Falmouth, Virginia, north of Fredericksburg. Stephen was assigned to the Department of Virginia. Camp Gilpin was located at Gloucester Point, Virginia, across the York River from Yorktown.
Gloucester Point, Camp Gilpin
I am glad that you are always so willing to forgive and to put your trust in God. I do pray for you so let us still put our trust in God and he will never leave nor forsake us. He has kept us this long and will keep us to the end. You must see Mr. Buck and tell him he must fix up the house and fence or let you have it done if you have got no hen house you had better get some on to fix up one. I with you believe with you that the war will be over before next winter for the rebs has got nothing hardly to live on and I hear that they are fighting with one another and that there is a peace committee in Richmond, and is kept secret but it will soon be published in the papers. Now I pray to God it may be, so give my best respects to your mother and father and all the rest of our friends, and to Johnny and tell him to be a good boy. I have not shaved nor do not intend to until I come home. It is natural that we should want to see each other, but let us make the sacrifice with a willing mind for God will make all things right. If there is no school you must not let Johnny run about too much and learn him at home.
The name of our Fort is Fort Keyes, and it is strongly foritified. There is about 2000 men on this side of the river and 2 batterys and on York side there is 6 or 8000 men. The whole town is a fort by the name of Yorktown and is strongly fortified. Some 300 large cannon and there is 3 gun boats here. The rebs has a bad show here. Our fort is right alongside our camp so we have to strike tents so they can shoot over them. We was called out last night but went back to bed without a fight. It is reported that there is some rebs outside the lines to stop our men from cutting wood, but we have sent 3 companies out to guard them and we have got some cavalry scouts out and you need not be alarmed for they cannot take us by surprise, and there is not force enough to do anything else for we can drive back a field full of them with that fort and by God's help which I believe we have, and it is better than cannons.
Fort Keyes was commanded by Major General Erasmus D. Keyes of the Fourth Army Corps, under commanding Major General John A. Dix at the Headquarters in Fort Monroe at Suffolk.
Throughout March there were small skirmishes throughout the area as the main objective by the Union was to hold that area from their enemy.
On March 31, 1863 President Lincoln wrote a Proclamation revoking the previously protected rights of the inhabitants of Virginia lying west of the Alleghany Mountains, as they might maintain a loyal adhesion of the Union.
He now stated that Virginia (except the 48 counties designated as West Virginia) was in a state of insurrection against the United States. Therefore, ". . . all cotton, tobacco, and other products, and all other goods and chattels, wares and merchandise . . . together with the vessel or vehicle conveying the same, be forfeited to the United States."
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, D.C. metropolitan 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.
for Civil War Research
J. F. Walter
7913 67th Drive
Middle Village, NY 11379
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