Buckner Jr. at Gettysburg 1913

In 1913, the U.S. Army hosted large reunion at Gettysburg National Military Park for the battle’s 50th

An image of the encampment for the 1913 Gettysburg battle anniversary and reunion of the blue and gray. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

anniversary. One of the officers detailed to support the event was Lieutenant Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., who was just shy of his 27th birthday. His namesake father was a Confederate lieutenant general, friend to U.S. Grant, former Governor of Kentucky, and vice-presidential candidate on the Gold Democrat ticket in 1896.

What Buckner Jr. saw at Gettysburg made a deep impression. He wrote the following to his mother afterward:

To begin with, the handling of a camp of 55,000 men, with all its details of transportation, shelter, administration, subsistence, etc., is no small undertaking, and to be among those engaged in the work is an experience from which any officer would derive benefit.  Furthermore, being associated with officers who will in a very few years be at the top in the Army, and having an opportunity to meet many of those who are now prominent in National politics, is always of advantage professionally.

It can hardly be said that the thousands of gray-haired veterans who have flocked here from the South have come to celebrate their own defeat, and rejoice over the death of their comrades who gave their lives for a cause which we all know was just.  Nor did those of the North come to gloat over a victory. They came to take the part of host to the South, and to extend the hand of friendship in time of peace, to those whom in time of war they had been forced to respect.  From the North there was no note of exultation; from the South no word of apology.

At the “Bloody Angle” the survivors of Pickett’s charge shook hands with those who fifty years ago had met them in a bloody struggle.  Each was proud to be in a country which had produced the other.  Each was glad to call the other his friend.

The Gettysburg semi-centennial has not been the celebration of a victory of war.  It has been the celebration of a victory of peace.


3 Responses to Buckner Jr. at Gettysburg 1913

  1. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing. My great great grandfather Colonel Osgood Tracy fought at Gettysburg with the 122nd NYSV, at Culp’s Hill. I have just returned from a visit there, where I had a chance to read his 25th Gettysburg regiment reunion speech, which he read there on that anniversary, dedicating the monument, recalling the regiment’s service, and those wounded and killed, including his best friend.

  2. Thanks for the post, Chris. I enjoyed your “Tenth Army Commander” and recommend it to Buckner aficionados. I believe SBB V is still with us. Let’s hope he sires SBB VI. Shame to let such a great appellation die out.

  3. Buckner served as the army’s liaison to the 150+ reporters and photographers who covered the 1913 reunion. And among the 1,465 Regulars overseeing every aspect of the reunion camp was another young lieutenant with a familiar (to us) name — George S. Patton Jr.

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