While Dennis Buckley was held at Camp Parole his unit was engaged in many battles including the 1863 famous battle at Gettysburg. Dennis' POW status may well have saved his life.
Upon rejoining the 136th New York Infantry, Dennis would take part in the advance on the Georgia state capital at Atlanta. This was a major centre of commerce and one of the last Confederate strongholds that had to be taken by the North. It's fall within a few weeks would be one of the factors that assisted Lincoln in his re-election bid. But before that could happen the Union troops had to get past Peach Tree Creek.
Above is an artist's rendering of a portion of the battle. To the right, a close look will show you Atlanta and to its north about 20 miles is Marietta. Two places that played prominent roles in the Andrews Raiders adventure that was covered in several blogs in this space most recently. If you draw the base of a triangle, being between these two cities and then put the third point about 20 miles to the east you will find Peachtree Creek where the above battle took place. There are crossed swords indicating the location on the above map.
It would be here that Dennis Buckley's war... and his life came to a tragic end!
While advancing on the enemy Dennis used the butt of his riffle to clobber a Confederate officer who was carrying the flag of the 31st Miss. Infantry. The officer went down and Dennis grabbed the flag, dropping his weapon at the same time. (It took two hands to handle the 9 ft. longs shaft that the flag was fastened to). Turning his back on the enemy and waving the flag at his comrades he was encouraging them with screams that they can keep coming on, and that EVERY BULLET IS WORTH A COW." A reference no doubt to his days back on the farm in Lindsay Ontario.
Those were Dennis' last words in the war... and in his life of only 20 years! An enemy bullet struck the flagpole, bounced off and hit this Canadian soldier in the forehead killing him instantly.
Many of the dead were buried after the battle right on location. A few years later they were transferred to a federal cemetery at Marietta. But Dennis Buckley's grave marker spelled his name wrong, as seen below to left.
John did his research to ensure he had solved the mystery and then went about fixing the problem. He arranged to have the marker upgraded not only in spelling but in adding the fact that this man was a war hero and had earned the Medal of Honor. The only one in his regiment! A story on the internet led me to finding out that John's unveiling ceremony was yet to take place so I immediately researched and found him and we exchanged some info. I then put him in touch with the Canadian Embassy's Council General office at Marietta just about 20 miles away from where Dennis was buried. I asked that they participate in the ceremony and they did. It should also be noted that John and several others in fact drove for some 14 hours to go from NY to Marietta to conduct the service.
What great Americans honouring a Canadian!
Soon a formal unveiling committee was arranged and many groups played a role in bringing this to fruition. This picture shows the US Consul, Jeff Tunis who was then the Chief Consular officer for the US Embassy at Toronto on the left. The American fellow that did so much work to honour Dennis in Marietta... John DuBois was invited to attend our service and he and a few others in the family drove to Lindsay to participate. He is pictured in the centre and the slim fellow on the right.. hehe.. is me as we unveiled the new marker for Dennis Buckley. This of course is only a monument to Dennis. he lies buries in Georgia.
It was a wonderful service and we all had considerable pride in playing a role to help recognize this hero.
There needs to be many more ceremonies across Canada for other heroes waiting for their well earned day in the limelight.
Hopefully my efforts, and perhaps yours, will see some more of these happening.
The General Order awarding Dennis Buckley his Medal of Honor, which was delivered in person by the President to Dennis' Mother, was dated on 7 April 1865, 148 years ago Sunday past.