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Buntly, G. W. (fl. 1862-1864) [Collection of G. W. Buntly, A company, 41st regiment, Tennessee, infantry] [Decimalized .01-.11]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04190 Author/Creator: Buntly, G. W. (fl. 1862-1864) Place Written: [various places] Type: Header Record Date: 1862-1864 Pagination: 11 letters

The George W. Buntly collection of Civil War correspondence is primarily composed of letters written by Confederate infantryman Buntly to his brothers, William and Jacob. For most of the war both brothers are located in Lincoln County, Tennessee, but towards the end of the war it seems that Jacob was either drafted or enlisted.

Though the letters in the collection begin when he is at camp in Kentucky, Buntly was stationed in lower south for the majority of the war, including southern Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. Buntly saw action during Grant's first offensive against Vicksburg (#3), Farragut's attack on Port Hudson (#4, #5, #6), the Battle of Raymond (#8, #9), and Sherman's campaign against Atlanta (#11). In item #5, Buntly describes giving guidance to his comrades during a major Union bombardment against the Confederate position, an example of the leadership qualities that led to his promotion to Sergeant. Later in the same letter, Buntly describes the eventual sinking of several Union gun boats.

Writing in January of 1863, Buntly discusses disease and quarantine (#3, #4), noting that the 41st Tennessee was deliberately taken off the front lines near Vicksburg (despite heavy Union presence near that "Gibraltar" on the Mississippi) and stationed several miles away from the rest of the army due to a minor outbreak of smallpox in the regiment. This occurrence demonstrates the degree to which military leaders feared the spread of deadly diseases, the most common cause of death during the war.

The most commonly recurring theme in Buntly's correspondence is the desire to receive more letters. Like many other Civil War soldiers, Buntly seemed to sustain his motivation on the battlefield by thoughts of home and constant reminders of the daily occurrences of Lincoln County. Buntly frequently inquires about news from home, possible legal issues (#2), monetary troubles (#2), and the purchase of land by one of his brothers (#7). Buntly always askes about the general welfare of his family, specifically mentioning his brother Jacob's family (#3) and acknowledging that he is vaguely aware of their recent troubles and offering any monetary service he can provide. Buntly also looks to his family to help him with the details of everyday life. In numerous letters he requests more appropriate clothing, such as a hat, a pair of pants, a shirt, and undergarments. He also asks his brother to fix his watch and have it available for him upon his return to Tennessee (#6). In the collection's final letter (#11), Buntly describes returning to camp and finding his regiment's dwellings in shambles, having been torn down by a neighboring Georgia regiment as a means of gathering wood.

Buntly served as a private and sergeant with Company A of the 41st Tennessee (Confederate) Volunteer Regiment. Born of German immigrant parents in 1829, he saw action during Grant's first Vicksburg campaign, Port Hudson, and outside Atlanta, among other locations in the lower South. According to the Buntly family Bible, G. W. was killed in the Battle of Atlanta.

[draft excerpts]
11 April 1863
"It its uncertain rather he faragat will try to pass for he has already be firing a signal and have not been answered it is thought if he dose not try to pass tonight he will [sound?] for he hemed where he is and is though that he is about out of coal and he will have to pass or surrender he has a fleet of three vessels and if tryes to pass I think they will meet a sad fait"

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