His Story

Nixon S. Buckner

21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry

79th Illinois Volunteer Infantry


Nixon S. Buckner

Born near York, Clark County, Illinois, October Eleventh, Eighteen Hundred Forty (1840). My father was a farmer. There were in the family eight boys and three girls. Six boys and two girls lived to man and womanhood. I attended school-such as it was (Subscription School) three months in the year, from the age of seven until I was fifteen years old. My mother died when I was 14 years old. The spring before I was sixteen, I was hired to work a years for a man named George Miller in Coles County, Illinois, at $10.00 a month. He had a large farm. $16.00 a month was the most he paid to any of his men, and yet while I was the youngest yet I did the same work the older men did. When seventeen I commenced to learn the painters trade. Worked at it a year. When 18 drove an ox team of 2 yoke for my father into Wapelo County, Iowa, and during the winter hauled rail for my uncle. The distance was 12 miles. Had to start very early. Got home late at night. Sometimes I was almost frozen. Returned to Clark County, Illinois, and worked one year on a farm for Mr. George Potter, for $13.00 a month. At this time there was great excitement in both north and south, and in April 1861 Fort Sumpter was fired upon by the rebels. When it was known that Sumpter was taken, the war fever raged in the north. A company was enlisted in our county town, Marshall. When Sumpter fell, I went to Marshall, a distance of 12 miles. Found a company being formed and was the 14th man to enlist. 13 had put their names down before I reached the town. The last of April we went into camp at Mattoon, Coles County, with a full company. Joined with two other companies which formed the 21st Illinois Infantry. We remained in camp until the first of June. Went to Springfield the middle of June. Was mustered into the U.S. for three years under U. S. Grant as, (who was) Colonel. Went home to help recruit. Returned the last of the month and on July 1st, 1861, started for Quincy. For four years was marching, drilling, camping, and fighting. We went into Missouri Arkansas (under Steel). Back to Corinth, Mississippi and up into Kentucky after Brag, was in the battle of Pesigville but suffered no loss in our regiment, although some parts of our army suffered much. This was October 2. Went to Nashville, camped until Dec. 26. Started under General Rosencrans to Murphreesboro 22 miles south of Nashville where General Brag, with 40,000 Rebs were stationed. We had about the same number of men. We encountered their outposts the evening of the 30th. Our regiment and the 15th Wisconsin charged a battery which was supported by a brigade of Rebels. We reached the battery but were driven back with heavy loss, several men killed in our company, lost 200 men killed and wounded in our regiment in 20 minutes. The next day, December 31st, the battle opened at daybreak. We were driven back 3 miles, but at noon was reinforced with fresh troops and drove the enemy back.. On the 2nd of Jan. 63, they charged us and were driven back with heavy loss. They then gave up Murfreesborough and went south to Chattanooga. We remained in Murfreesborough till August. In March I received a commission as first Lieutenant Company 79th Illinois Infantry in which regiment I served until the war ended.

Was in the battle of Liberty Gap & Chickamagua Ga. Sept. 19th and 20th. At Stone River or Murfreesboro we lost, out of the regiment I was in, 304 men, one more than half that went into the fight. At Chickamagua in the 2 days battle we lost more than half our regiment, killed, wounded and captured. We gained Chatanooga but was shut in there until the last of November when the battle of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge were fought. I commanded my own company and Company A in the battle of Missionary Ridge. After the battle we marched through snow and sleet to Knoxville in East Tennessee. Wet and cold at night and wading through slush, we marched 75 miles to find that Longstreet had attacked Burside and been whipped. We remained in East Tenn. During the winter. Returned to Chattanooga and started on the Atlanta campaign in May 1864. Was in the battle Rocky Face Ridge -May 14-when brother Colonel Allen Buckner who led the charge was severely wounded. Was in several skirmished and 3 hard battles in the 100 days march to Atlanta-Resacka, the charge over Kenasaw Mountain and Peach Tree Creek were all hard battles. At Resacka and Kenasaw we were repulsed, but repulsed Hood at Peach Tree after the fall of Atlanta. March back toward Nashville to prevent Hoods army going North. Was captured at the battle of Franklin last of Nov. '64. Taken south, finally landing at Andersonville prison on Christmas day Dec. '64 where we suffered untold misery. Was released and reached our lines Mar. 25, 1865. In hospital 30 days. Went to St. Louis. Was sick there in Everet hotel 30 days, then went to join my regiment at Nashville was mustered in as Capt. Of my company. Was mustered out of the service at Springfield, Illinois. Reached home July 1st, 1865.

Written in his own handwriting in a small notebook. Original in the possession of Steve Combs [email protected]

Submitted by [email protected]


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