bucktails

3

President Abraham Lincoln Gay

In 1837, the 28-year-old Abraham Lincoln arrived in Springfield, Illinois, to found a law practice. Almost immediately, he struck up a friendship with a 23-year-old shopkeeper named Joshua Speed. There may have been an element of calculation to this friendship, since Joshua’s father was a prominent judge, but the two clearly hit it off. Lincoln rented an apartment with Speed, where the two slept in the same bed. Sources from the time, including the two men themselves, describe them as inseparable.

Lincoln and Speed were close enough to still raise eyebrows today. Speed’s father died in 1840, and shortly afterwards, Joshua announced plans to return to the family plantation in Kentucky. The news seems to have stricken Lincoln. On January 1, 1841, he broke off his engagement with Mary Todd and made plans to follow Speed to Kentucky.

Speed left without him, but Lincoln followed a few months later, in July. In 1926, writer Carl Sandburg published a biography of Lincoln in which he described the relationship between the two men as having, “a streak of lavender, and spots soft as May violets.” Eventually, Joshua Speed would marry a woman named Fanny Henning. The marriage lasted 40 years, until Joshua’s death in 1882, and produced no children.

From 1862 to 1863, President Lincoln was accompanied by a bodyguard from the Pennsylvania Bucktail Brigade named Captain David Derickson. Unlike Joshua Speed, Derickson was a prodigious father, marrying twice and siring ten children. Like Speed, however, Derickson became a close friend of the president and also shared his bed while Mary Todd was away from Washington. According to an 1895 regimental history written by one of Derickson’s fellow officers:

“Captain Derickson, in particular, advanced so far in the President’s confidence and esteem that, in Mrs. Lincoln’s absence, he frequently spent the night at his cottage, sleeping in the same bed with him, and — it is said — making use of His Excellency’s night-shirt!”

Another source, the well-connected wife of Lincoln’s naval adjundant, wrote in her diary: “Tish says, ‘there is a Bucktail Soldier here devoted to the President, drives with him, & when Mrs L. is not home, sleeps with him.’ What stuff!”

Derickson’s association with Lincoln ended with his promotion and transfer in 1863.

I just started reading that new Seward biography from the library.

So, Seward was like, five, and in school when a solar eclipse came and he thought the world was ending and he ran all the way home crying. Awww…

And he ran away to Georgia for awhile before he came back to finish college.

AND.

He was a Bucktail.

New York had a political party called the Bucktails, and Seward was part of it.

How much more awesome can this guy get? *devours book eagerly*

Thomas Davee Chamberlain -The Forgotten Brother

Lieutenant Colonel of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War, the brother of Union general Joshua L. Chamberlain, the Colonel of the 20th Maine Infantry.

After Gettysburg, the major battles in which Thomas Chamberlain and the 20th Maine were involved were the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House and the Siege of Petersburg

At the Siege of Petersburg, the 20th Maine was in reserve, while Joshua (against his better judgment) led his Pennsylvania Bucktail brigade in a charge on a section of the Confederate defenses known as Rives’s Salient. Turning to direct his troops, Joshua was struck by a minié ball, which entered just below his right hip, nicked his bladder and urethra, and stopped at his left hip. Such a devastating wound should have been fatal, and when he arrived at the field hospital, three miles behind the lines, his life was feared over. 

Thomas Chamberlain, back with his regiment, eventually heard the news. He and the surgeon of the 20th Maine, Dr. Abner O. Shaw, went to the hospital where Joshua was dying. As Thomas waited, Dr. Shaw, with Dr. Morris W. Townsend of the 44th New York, worked all night to try to save Joshua Chamberlain’s life. 

Thirty-five years later, Joshua Chamberlain wrote that, after the surgeons had finished: “Tom stood over me like a brother, and such a one as he was.” Remarkably, Col. Chamberlain survived to enjoy his “on the spot” promotion to brigadier general, although he never returned to full fitness. A number of biographers of Joshua Chamberlain say that his life was saved through the activity of his brother, Thomas.