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November 22, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

1861: Buckingham Boys At The Front

General_Robert_E_Lee

Gen. Robert E. Lee

 In 1937, Elizabeth McCraw transcribed a Civil War-era letter for the Virginia Historical Inventory. It was written from Valley Mountain on August 28, 1861, by Frank O. McCraw to his brother who was still at home in Buckingham County.  One of seven sons of Thomas McCraw, Frank survived the war and lived to be an old man.  In the letter, he makes it clear that both volunteers and regulars had a difficult time from the earliest days of the war and that families left behind in Buckingham were painfully ignorant of their hardships. It reads in part:

I am unfit for any service and have been for the last three weeks. I never suffered so much in my life with the bowel complaint as I have done in that length of time, but I have enough strength to walk and write.  A soldier has not as much attention here as a sick cow would have in Buckingham. Dr. Swoope has been here and he says he had not the least idea how we were treated, and the people who were in Buckingham know nothing of the sufferings of soldiers.  I weigh about one hundred and twenty-five pounds.  A volunteer has all the hardships to undergo that any other class of soldier does and is thought as little of; the treatment is equally as rough, and it is a standing rule here for the volunteers to relieve the Regulars (the lowest Irish) in all their labor.  As for the men being drafted in Buckingham I know that will not take place this year, and if I had the money I would bet ten to one it will not be. If one company were in Buckingham I do not believe five out of Eighty would ever join, but wait for a draft.  John D. Saunders leaves here with his brother for Buckingham, he has been very sick for the last five weeks with measles, and the Drs. have given him a discharge, which I think very proper.

                We have no fighting and I do not expect we will in several weeks.  Genls. Lee and Loving are here….

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