Bucklin logo items to show your interest in American history.
You do not have to be
JBS site v.013
Copyright,1998 through 2013, Leonard Bucklin
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed
upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally
presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in
the name of Congress, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor.
(Following is, first, the official citation, and, then, second, a
summary of Bucklyn's actions.)
The President of the United
in the name of Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
to JOHN K BUCKLYN
Rank and Organization: First
Lieutenant, Battery E, 1st
Rhode Island Light Artillery.
Place and Date: At Chancellorsville, Va., 3 May 1863.
Entered Service At: Rhode Island.
Born: 15 March 1834, Foster Creek, R.I.
Date of Issue: 13 July 1899.
Though himself wounded, gallantly fought his section of the
battery under a fierce fire from the enemy until his ammunition was all
expended, many of the cannoneers and most of the horses killed or wounded, and the enemy within 25 yards of the guns,
when, disabling one piece, he brought off
the other in safety.
Joseph Bucklin Society's summary of what happened on
3 May 1863, at
Rhode Island's 1st Regiment Light Artillery's Battery E had three sections, each with two
cannons. Bucklyn was in charge of one section.
"Lieutenant Bucklyn, although one of the sections had been engaged less than
his, was ordered by Captain Randolph to return up the road in face of the enemy
and check the advance. Lieutenant Bucklyn remarked, 'whoever goes up there will
not live to return.' Captain Randolph replied, 'I think likely they will not ; I
must have some one who will stay.' Lieutenant Bucklyn called for volunteers and
every man of his section volunteered although believing he was going to certain
An entire Mississippi infantry brigade stormed the line where Bucklyn's
section of Battery E was positioned. . Bucklyn
ordered that the two cannons of his section
fire canister shells (shells that were like giant shotgun shells in their
action). Half of the men in the section
were killed and most of the others wounded from the
Confederate direct fire into their position.
Twice Bucklyn had horses shot from under him,
as he moved rapidly among the cannons to direct their fire. As he
mounted the third
horse, the horse was hit with a Confederate artillery shell, and a piece of shrapnel went into Bucklyn's left lung, filling the lung with blood and making him unable to
breath effectively. Yet still Bucklyn fought Battery E both bravely and effectively.
Confederate infantry brigade closed on his position, and with no Union infantry
supporting Battery E, he successfully maintained maximum firepower from his
section of the battery.
He moved the two cannon to various positions even though most of the horses were dead. The two cannons were fought by him to the last possible
moment, as described in
the commendation for the Congressional Medal of Honor described at the top of
this page. At the last moment possible he had the remaining horses remove
one of the cannons to a point of safety behind Union lines, and he remained to
disable the other before leaving the field.
Stephen Usler, of Warwick, RI, is writing a biography of John Knight Bucklyn,
and has said the following regarding the treatment of Bucklin's wounds at
Bucklyn "was taken to a hospital in Georgetown. It was the same hospital
described by Louisa May Alcott in her "Hospital Sketches,
while she was a nurse, although she and Bucklyn were not there at the same
time. Bucklyn's description of the place and her description corroborate that
the conditions were pretty bad.
A soldier of Bucklyn's unit, named Slocum, fed Bucklyn milk with a spoon
and a surgeon dressed his wounds. Bucklyn determined that he was not going
to stay at the hospital in Georgetown. Slocum put Bucklyn in a boxcar, on a
stretcher on top of some coffins of Union soldiers being shipped home. There
was a deserter hiding out in the boxcar and he threw Bucklyn off the
stretcher and used it to sleep on himself while Bucklyn spent the journey on
the floor of the boxcar.
There was nobody helping him. He ended up in a train station in New York
all by himself and described having to beat off pickpockets. About six or
eight weeks later, he was back at the front with his battery."
Bucklin voluntarily returned to military service with his unit after only
about two months for recovery. When Bucklin returned to to service, his
demonstrated bravery and intelligence earned him the job of Assistant Aide of the Adjutant-General (AAAGen) on the staff of Colonel Thompkins.
In that job, Buckyn had the duty of getting into the thick of battle in the
front lines, reorganizing units to fight as battle casualties broke down the
effectiveness of a fighting unit or eliminated the unit's commanding officers,
reorganizing and recombining remnants of units, and issuing new battle orders on
During the bloody battle of Shenandoah, in recognition of extreme bravery
and effectiveness in battle, he was promoted in the field to the rank of
brevet captain on the 19th of October, 1864, "For gallant and
meritorious and ofttimes distinguished service before Richmond and
in the Shenandoah Valley."
During the latter part of the Civil War, Bucklyn as a Lieutenant (brevet rank
of captain) was moved to replace the commander of Battery E, even though on paper the
former commander who was moved to a general staff position. Because Bucklyn did
not have an actual Congressional commission of a rank needed to command an entire
battery, the former Captain remained nominally The Battery E commander on
the tables of organization of the artillery.
Rhode Island's Battery E fought continuously in battles from the start to the
end of the Civil War. At Gettysburg,
Battery E was stationed first at Cemetery Ridge, and
later at the Peach Orchard, scenes of perhaps the most intense fighting of the
Civil War, his command was exemplary. The appreciation his men had for Bucklyn as their commander
on that bloody battleground was illustrated
in 1886, when a monument was erected on the Gettysburg battlefield, to mark where
Battery E had fought. After the service of dedication, several of the
soldiers asked for permission, and were granted permission, to chisel at the bottom
of the monument for Battery E's position the additional words: "Lt. J. K.
have on file a copy of John K. Bucklyn's entire speech to the Soldiers and Sailors
Historical Society, in which he described the battle and what he did. It
is one of those items that reposes in our pile of papers for which we do not
have funds to put into electronic format for you to read. We wish someone
would volunteer to transcribe his handwriting into a typed document, so we can
make it readable and searchable for today's researchers, and place on our
website in full. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge it to see what
you would be transcribing into an electronic format (such as Word or
WordPerfect). If you don't want to donate your time, you could donate
about $60 to have one of our researchers do the necessary work. (Use the
link in the left margin of this page to make that donation.)
We have more available materials, such as the
commendations of Civil War superior officers,
for Bucklyn's service after he returned to battle after recovery from his
We also have an electronic copy of the 600 page history of Battery E during
the Civil War. It has numerous references to Capt. Bucklyn (a whole group
of pages about him starting at page 401), and describes the military history of
the entire Battery during the bloody battles in which they participated. If you
are a Civil War buff, you will want to read this. The book is, we believe, in
the public domain, and we maintain a copy of the
History of Battery E, First Rhode Island
Infantry, here for your to read.
And, of course, we also have much biographical
material on Capt. Bucklyn.
and text on this page, are only a part of the information available at this
website about John Knight Bucklyn. All the material has
not been coordinated and edited into one
organized body of information. Therefore, to learn more about the
activities of John Knight Bucklyn, e.g., more about this Civil War
activities, or about his activities as an educator and the college
preparatory school he operated, you will have to click on many of the links
to get you around several pages about this interesting person.
Only some of
those links are on this page. Other links are on other pages reached
through the links on this page.
the centuries, the Congressional Medal of Honor for the Army has had several
designs. Shown at the top of this page is the design of the medal as awarded in the Civil War to U.S. Army members.
Today's present medal of honor for Army members is shown to the left. It is the medal with which
present day military personnel expect to see around the neck of a soldier
awarded this honor. Obviously, today's medal is much grander in design and
appearance than was used in the Civil War.