DECEMBER 2003

D. E. Buckingham to John McCormick

Instead of putting this in the letter section, I'm going to share the following letter that was written by David E. Buckingham to John McCormick, who was a brother to my husband's great-grandfather Levi McCormick in regards to Levi's nephew, John's son, Nathaniel McCormick who served with Levi in Co. E, 4th Del Vol.

Camp on the Weldon RR, VA
August 30th 1864

John McCormack Esq.

            Dear Friend

Often while performing my solemn duties in defense of my country have I thought of writing to you, to offer my poor consolation for the irreparable loss of your noble boy who fell while gallantly storming the enemy 2 works in front of Petersburg, VA.  Though but the second battle he had participated in, I had already noticed his gallant bearing on a former hard fought battlefield.  The "Battle of Petersburg."  Then a fatiguing march across the country from Front Royal to Mechanicksville we joined the Army of the Potomac and where assigned to the 5th Corps.  The next day we were ordered to charge and drive the enemy from a section of our works he occupied, which we did (unreadable) some forty four numbers.  Nathaniel was foremost in the charge and fought with the air of a beter man.  He was then taken sick and confined to the field hospital for sometime and indeed had just left a sick bed a few days prior to the battles before Petersburg.  One the afternoon of the 18th of June we assaulted the enemy's works, but only to be repulsed with the loss of many of our brave boys as many loving parent too well know;  again Nathaniel was bravest among the brave, and gained the crest of a hill which afforded but poor protection from the enemy's sharp shooters, it was here he received his mortal wound and was obliged to lay under fire until dark before we could remove him from the field.  I conversed with him as his comrades were bearing him to the hospital, he appeared in good spirits although suffering from five gastly wounds and expressed a desire that someone would write to inform his parents of his situation.  Poor Boy.  I never saw hi after he was removed to the hospital and the next information we received was by seeing his name amongst the honored dead who were buried at City Point.  But it is (unreadable) that many should die in order that their Country might live and what nobler spirit could we offer up in such a cause; you his bereaved father have the sweet consolation of knowing that your son died in defense of those principals that were handed down to us by our illustrious ancestors and which this infamous rebellion is laboring to subvert.  But as sure as there is a just God in Heaven, and that all nature exclaims, there is!  such an (unreadable) cause cannot triumph the down trodden and oppressed of every nation will use to bless the names of the Martyrs to the holy cause of liberty who gave up their lives in its defence during the slaveholders rebellion in the United States.  Then traitors Copperheads and all such mean trash shall have returned to the mother earth fit food for worms, unwept for, unhonored and unknown, our Country fallen shall be held in grateful remembrance and their names resound in the schoolhouse throughout our land.  We miss him on the long fatiguing march where he was ever willing to help a wornout comrade, we miss him in the lonely midnight watch in camp upon the tinted field or still more upon the exciting battlefield when victory is about to perch upon our banners; but our loss is his gain, he has gone to join the redeemed around the throne of Heaven.   (unreadable) an incident tending to show the careful solicitude one soldier feels for another and the total disregard for his own safety.  I will mention an incident connected with your sons misfortune.  When he was first wounded one Perry Bateman of our Co. assisted him off the brow of the hill and with his bayonet and tin cup was digging a hole in which to place Nathaniel to partly screen him from view.  When he Bateman received a mortal wound from which he since died Lieut. Gawthrop then went to bind up his wound and was wounded in the head. but despite all they removed your son to a safer place.

This friend John the 18th of June is a day long to be remembered by us for on that day many of our boys sealed their devotion to their country by their lifes blood, (unreadable) thank God and our indominable leaders Grant, Meade and Warren, we have since avenged our slain and payed them back both principal and compound interest.  Since moving to this place we have fought three battles and each time whipped the enemy with heavy loss.  The most desperate struggle of all was on Sunday morning the 21st inst.  our Div. had during Saturday night moved down to the left and threw up works on the edge of a cornfield and within 150 yds of a woods, we were  all night busy as beavers and drenched by rain.  Sunday morning we had just finished our Coffee and Hard Tack when the  (unreadable) drove in our pickets and in an instant every man snatched his trusty musket and was at his post.  On came the Rebel crew; the boasted chivalry; the flower of South Carolina; first their dirty rag streamed above the waving corn tops on our right. Now Boys, Steady! Give them a right oblique, down goes their flag, their commander Gen. Sanders is killed.  the remainder are taken prisoners.  Now they appear on our left. I mounted the parapet to see if any of our skermishers are still out. They fire a volley at me, I jump down and we give them a left oblique at that instant they appear in our immediate front and are appaled to find breast works, they cannot battle.  Our boys cheered whoopee and yelled enough to frighten the whole Confederacy;  we shoot down the color bearer, another picks them up and starts back, a dozen muskets are aimed at him and he falls never to rise again.  (Unreadable) make motions to surrender but still hold on to their gun, but that will never do and the boys peg away at them; the ground is strew with dead, we cease firing and leap over our works to capture their colors but the Adjt. of the 3rd DE snatches them from Sargt Wilson of our Reg and being an Officer the Sargt yields the prize; thus we lose the credit but all admit that three strand of colors fell in front of our Reg.  The brigade that charged us was composed entirely of South Carolinians.  The very boys we wish to assault our works.  I have participated in five battles but never saw such slaughter, and (........ unreadable........) comparitively nothing.  Prisoners state that Gen Lee would move have this Railroad back or bury his army along it; but I notice when he attempted recapturing it he always leaves us to bury his dead.  Levi was wounded on the 19th in the forearm but not serious.  We have received no tidings from Mitchener for a long time.  The Army has unbounded confidence in Lieut. Gen Grant and our Corps Commander.  Gen. Warren is a trump.  All we want is perseverance and the Rebellion must soon succumb, there is too much despondency and luke warmness in the North, if the Army had no more heart than the rebels we would be encamped around Washington instead of along the James River. The 3rd Del received 60 recruits yesterday.  We are building Forts and the whole Rebel Army cannot drive us away, all goes well.

Allow me in conclusion in behalf of our boys to express to you our heart felt sympathy for the loss of your gallant boy, for in him we lost a brave fearless and tried soldier and you a loving and obedient son.

I have the honor to remain
Your Obdt Servt
D. E. Buckingham
Lieut 4th Del Vol

2nd Brig, 4th Div, 5th Corps

 

NOTE FROM JAYNE:  We visited the grave of Nathaniel McCormick a number of years ago at the City Point National Cemetery, Hopewell, VA, only to find the name was wrong.  Luckily we had all of Nathaniel's records with us and when all the information was compared, it was found to be the same.  We asked what we could do and they suggested we apply to the Veteran's Affairs for a new stone, which we did.  The stone was delivered and in place the next spring.  The name is now spelled correctly and all the other information is correct except he was a Corporal when he died and not a Private, but after all the red tape that was involved, we decided to just leave it as it was.

        

Old stone                  New stone

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