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11th Vermont Infantry (aka First Heavy Artillery, Vermont Volunteers)

Harris Boyden Buxton

Harris Boyden Buxton

Harris Boyden Buxton was born in Woodstock, Connecticut on January 14, 1845. He was the third son of Simeon Bentley and Caroline Boyden (Bullard) Buxton. He had three brothers, William, John and Anson, and a sister, Caroline. The family moved to Worcester, Massachusetts in about 1846, and to Rutland, Vermont by 1855. They then located in Montpelier, where Harris' father had a large foundry on the Winooski River. Like his brothers, Harris worked at foundry chores, learning to be a machinist.

No doubt Harris had grown up hearing stories of his three great-grandfathers who fought in the Revolution, and he was patriotic. By the summer of 1862, his brother John had enlisted twice, and Harris volunteered also. He was only seventeen, but he enlisted at Montpelier in Company H, 11th Vermont Infantry Regiment as a private on July 23, 1862. He was the second in Vermont to join the regiment. The regiment mustered at Camp Bradley in Brattleboro, where, in his letter of September 2, Harris described standing guard through the night in a violent thunderstorm. The regiment then went south by train to construct and man forts for the defense of Washington.

In his letter of September 24, 1862, Harris told of the precautions taken as his unit went through Baltimore, and on to Fort Lincoln, on the northeastern perimeter of Washington. The days were spent digging and chopping, as the men worked hard to complete the defenses. Harris remained patriotic, writing, "Harris B. Buxton - true to his country and flag.

That winter the regiment officially became a heavy artillery unit. Company H went into winter quarters at Fort Slocum. The buildings were constructed of logs stuck in the earth, and chinked with moss. Many of the men became sick. Harris contracted typhoid pneumonia and was taken to the regimental hospital at Fort Massachusetts (later Fort Stevens) . He died there on February 20, 1863. He was buried at the nearby Soldiers Asylum Cemetery, now Soldiers Home National Cemetery, the first national cemetery of the Civil War.

Little evidence of Harris' brief life remains. The National Archives preserves his two wartime letters. There is his tombstone, white and weathered, standing in the long rows, casting even shadows across the soft grass. And there is his photograph, in. uniform, holding the flag, the enduring flag, close beside him.

Letter from Harris Boyden Buxton (1845-1863) of Co. H, 11th Vt Inf to his mother Caroline Boyden (Bullard) Buxton in Montpelier, Vermont.

Original in pension tile at National Archives. Some punctuation (periods) added for clarity.

                     Sept 2d 62
Brattleboro Camp Bradley
My Dear Mother I have read your 
2 letters this Wednesday night and
was glad to hear from you. Sorry
you are feeling so bad. dont shed
no tears, for my health is good.
I have not thought to write
to you and been very busy to work
in camp. excuse me mother for not writing
I received the shirts they are good 
ones Very soft. Anson [younger brother] was up here 
from the village and went and got them. 
Wm [older brother, age 21] was here 4 or 5 days ago with a 
man from Bernardston. he frenched [substituted] for 
him [William]. I expect to go to Dixie in a week. 
I got my $13.00 [private's salary] yesterday and my $25.00 [bounty] 
today. I expect $7 tomorrow that is state pay. that is all the pay 
I get untill 2 months. I must lend Wm some 
he is in Montague Mass he wants $10.00.

I will do the best I can for him 
he is a little short. Anson [brother, age 15] 
has enlisted in Capt Randalls Co 2d Regt. 
I have not heard from him since he 
left Brattleboro. he has gone to Woodstock 
Gen W headqrs. I have signed 
$10.00 to the allotment on interest 
in State treasury. 
I dont think I can get a furlough to 
come home Will if I can but not expect 
me. our Col is not doing Right 
By the Boys he don give them any furlows 
and the 10th [Regt?] is. the Boys dont like him 
the other officers are good and kind 
but him. I have been on guard the 2d 
time since I Been here. night before last 
I was on all night Rained hard all 
the time but I have got all of my 
equipments. Rubber blanket so did not 
get wet only my feet they very very 
wet. it thundered and lightninged 
so it Blinded me But I can stand it. 
The ground was Covered all over 
in and around the camp
so that 200 [men] up and 
Ran the guard Slept in Barns. 
is father at home now? I have 
not heard any thing from 
him yet. father I cant 
write any more news I have 
Raked all I could for mother. 
I will write as often father 
to you and mom as I can. 
I cannot see the lines this 
Eve no candle. enclosed Mother 
I will send you $8.00 eight 
and it dont make me short 
yours Very kindly

	Harris B Buxton

PS Direct your letters 
this way HBB Co H 
11 Regt care Capt Rich 
enclosed you will find 
a check to be drawed on the 
Vermont Bank present it
from H B Buxton

Mother please write all the 
new[s] especially from John [older brother,
age 19, in 1st Vt Cavalry] 
I dont hear one word from him 
Where is he [Is] he all right he probably 
was in the Battle [Second Bull Run, Aug 29-30] 
Write me about things at home
Harris B Buxton

I have got me a stencil plate
Co. H

Letter from Harris Boyden Buxton (1845-1863) of Co H, 11th Vt Inf to his brother, William Bradbury Buxton, in Montague, Massachusetts.

Original in pension file at National Archives. Some punctuation (periods) added for clarity.

                     Sept 24th 62

Washington D.C. Ft. Lincoln
My Dear Brother Wm I have 
not had time to write to you 
till to day. I have writen to mother 
the 13 inst and have not heard from her. 
my health is very good. We have 
enough to eat and drink hard 
crackers meat & good Army Bread. 
Rice once a week. I wrote to you 
when I was in Brattleboro to Montague. 
I enclosed a check of $10.00 to you 
to be drawn on the Suffolk bank. 
John [older brother in 1st Vt Cav] is not a great ways from 
here. have you got the money? Write me. 
I can write with a lead pencil. 
--- about the boots I did not have 
a chance to send I sent them home. 
We had a pleasant ride from the 
time we got in to the cars in Brattleboro 
till we got in -----. We went through 
the ----- ----- -----.

from there to	-----
then to ----- -----
from there to Baltimore. When we 
got in Maryland we all loaded our guns
ready for them but they did not 
attack us the city was floating with 
the stars and stripes. We did not 
buy any thing to eat but what 
looked good for there is rebels 
there. I bought me a revolver in B [Baltimore] Cost 
$18.00 a good one. We ate dinner at B 
took the cars to Washington in the 
afternoon. We have got some 
good officers in the Regiment 
but a poor Col. he did not give us 
a furlough. He is not liked by the 
Boys. He has no good voice for Commanding. 
I have not heard from Anson [younger brother, in 2nd Vt Inf] since 
I left Brattleboro. Write me where he is 
if you know. ask mother 
if she had got her check of $8.00 when 
you write to her.

Write as soon as you get this 
to her for I may get one from you first 
if you will write me as soon as you 
get this. I hope you will have good 
luck in going to school [seminary]. I will help you 
if I get money here. I signed the 
$7.00 pay to mother and the 
$10.00 to J B Page treasurer 
so I have $3.00 here. I will 
save some if I can. ask mother 
if she has got my letter. tell me 
when you write me. I am anxious 
to hear all the news. 
		from your Brother

PS direct your
letters to H B B [Harris B. Buxton] Washington
D.C. 11th Regt Co H
Care Capt Rich

	ft Lincoln where we are
	5 miles north from Washington
	Write as soon as
	you get this

Harris Buxton true to his Country
     and flag

					[drawing of flag]

[long may it?] wave ore the land
		of the free and the
		home of the brave.

Material and photograph ©2001 by the late Colby B. Rucker; used with permission.