( February 3, 1840 - November 23, 1915 )
1st Lieutenant, Co. E, 4th Delaware Infantry

Citation:
Swam the partly frozen creek, under fire, in the attempt to capture a crossing.



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     "David E. Buckingham" was born February 3, 1840, in Pleasant Hill, Delaware, the son of Alban and Mary Buckingham. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in the home guard raised at Mermaid on Limestone Road. He was given the rank of "Orderly Sergeant". This home guard became part of the 4th Delaware Infantry raised by Col. Arthur Grimshaw in June, 1862. Men of New Castle and Kent County comprised the bulk of the 4th Delaware along with ex-prisoners from Fort Delaware who had taken the oath of allegiance. The unit guarded the du Pont power works for a while before being transfered to Alexandria, Virginia where they patrolled for about a year and a half ending in late 1863.

     Life for the 4th Delaware became more serious at that point as they helped press in on Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia. During the Battle of Cold Harbor, Buckingham was shot in the right leg, and later at Weldon Railroad he was "breveted Captain" for conspicious gallantry. It was at this last location that he disarmed and captured the commanding officer of the 21st Carolina Infantry.

     On February 4, 1865, the 4th Delaware, as part of General Warren's V Corps was ordered to move between Halifax and Jerusalem Plank Roads, cross Rowanty Creek and support General Gregg's Cavalry at Dinwiddle Courthouse. As they approached the Rowanty Creek they were halted, as the Rebels had burned the bridge and a band of about 100 of them were firing on the soldiers from the south side of the 60 foot wide creek.

     Buckingham's deed of valor came as they tried to cross this creek. Several regiments charged and tried to carry the ford without success. Finally, it was the 4th Delawares turn. Captain Buckingham overheard the order that his commander, Major Daniel Kent was given by General Aryes: "You are expected to carry the bridge, if you lose every man!"

     Buckingham ventured into the creek. Reaching the opposite bank, he clutched a stump root while he surveyed the situation and said later:

     ".....I stepped on the ice, which extended only six feet from the shore. It broke under my weight and I struck out for the rebel (sic) side and was soon beyond my depth, but swam to the south side, the minie balls skimming the water all around me. The water was icy cold and I did not care to scale the bank, as I was the only man in the command who crossed the river at the bridge......"

     Others who followed him fell back to the other side when they discovered the depth of the stream. Meanwhile, two hundred yards to the right "Captain Samuel R. Smith", who was also from Delaware and received the Medel of Honor, noticed what he felt would be a good spot to cross and led his soldiers toward that goal. "Captain Smith" crossed and soon others followed the example of these two men to capture 50 Rebels and secure the creek.

     Buckingham was discharged at the war's end and returned to Wilmington, Delaware. On New Year's Day, 1867, he married Sarah L. Van Trump and they had 4 children. In 1889, the Buckingham's moved to Washington, D.C. where David had secured a job with the Pension Bureau. He was awarded his medal on February 13, 1895.

     On November 23, 1915 David E. Buckingham died due to heart trouble and rheumatism, at the age of 76 while living at 3340 17th street in Washington, D.C. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

"Click Here" for David E. Buckingham's Find A Grave record.


      

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Russ Pickett
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Last modified: 1/29/2009