BUEK – A Civil War Letter of Max Buek

The following is taken from the website:  http://narafriends-pittsfield.org/buek.htm

Camp 26th Mich Vols
April 21st 1865


Maxamilian Adolph Buek. . . . Our Army took Petersburg the 2nd. Our corps broke through the enemies breastworks about 12 miles above Pg. We found a great many wounded in their camps whom they had left for us to take care of. That afternoon we had a very pretty fight. The Johnnies made a stand at the Danville railroad but we soon routed them and took several hundred prisoners. The next day our regiment was sent out scouting. We had fighting and excitement enough to make it interesting. We took 48 prisoners, 5 of whom were officers. Got plenty of bacon, chickens, applejack, and molasses. That night we rejoined the Brigade with our haversacks well filled and big yarns to tell to the other regiments in the Brigade. We marched that day 15 miles. The 4th & 5th we had hard marching whenever the Rebs would stop to show fight. The morning of the 6th we first got sight of the Johneys [sic] train. Our Reg’t was on the skirmish line & had some pretty brisk fighting. At 11 o’clock we were relieved from the skirmish line & put in the line of Battle. Our position was along the road or on the left of our Division and joined on the 3rd Div. The 5th Michigan are in that Div.

We charged 8 times that day in line of Battle and drove the enemy each time. Our regt that day had it the hardest as we were in the road & the Rebs each time made the strongest stand in the road. Our Corps took that day five battle flags, 30 pieces of Artillery & 8 wagon trains of some 300 wagons. I have forgotten the exact number of prisoners that were taken. But our regt alone took 175.

That night we lived well for there was plenty of meat, flour, meal & liquors of most every kind in the wagons. I need not say that the most of us were pretty tight while others were decidedly loose that night for that was a thing of course. Then in the morning we started & for about 10 miles we marched without doing fighting at last we came upon them again. Our regt was on the skirmish line again & this time it was a lucky thing for us. We drove their skirmishers for about 1 mile when we came to their breastworks & of course we could go no farther. We got up as close as we could & began popping away whenever one Johnny showed his head above the breastworks. Then the rest of the Div. came up & our 1st Brigade was ordered out to charge the works which they did. The Johnnies let them come to within a few rods & then let them have a volley. Our men kept on and some got over the works but only to be taken prisoner or killed for the rebs had a heavy line of battle in the rear of those in the works. After they fired they charged on our men & drove them back. Over one half of those that went did not come back. Our Brigade has lost heavier than any in the Corps. We went out with 2000 men of which there are only 900 left now. The 8th had but little fighting & the 9th Old Lee gave up. He had 62,000 men when he left Richmond. After the surrender I went in to the Rebels camp & traded with them. I got a knife, a ring & a gold pen & a lot of Confederate money. We have done the work, thank God. The news came in that Old Johnston had surrendered too.

[In margin]: But a cloud has darkened all our brightness the one that we wanted most has been brutally murdered, confound their black hearts. But one consolation is we now have a good man to take his place and Johnson will be all the more severe with them. Since the surrender, I have been quite discontented and at times almost homesick. . . .31

During his service Max contracted typhoid fever, which apparently had a debilitating effect on him for the remainder of his life. His medical file shows him “Feb 29 & Apr 30, 64 sick in Washington, D. C. June 30/64 in Convalescent Camp, Bedloes Island N. Y. Harbor.”32 His tent mate, Nelson Hinckley, in a deposition for Max’s pension file, recalled bathing him and caring for him “for several days before he was sent to Hospital.” Nevertheless he returned to service and was in the Regiment until June 4th, 1865, when he mustered out with his comrades, as a corporal, at Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia. It was on August 4th, 1865, that his brother Ben said he first saw his brother after the war “at a picnic given to the soldiers at Brighton, Michigan.”33