There are thousands of Civil War veterans buried here in York County, Pennsylvania. A few were notable, having been officers or Medal of Honor winners. The vast majority were common infantrymen and cavalrymen, laboring in anonymity other than their immediate company. According to local historian Dennis Brandt, more than 6,200 York Countians served in the armed forces during the Civil War.
Here is just one of their stories…
David Buck was a German immigrant living in North Codorus Township at the start of the Civil War. Born December 30, 1822 in Hesse in the general region of Frankfurt, he married a local York County girl named Rebecca and fathered a daughter Anna in 1854. By trade, Buck was a wagoner, and listed his occupation as laborer in the 1860 U.S. Census. He valued his personal property at $520 in that same enumeration.
In 1862, Buck turned forty-one years old, making him a rarity among York County’s soldiers. He was old enough to be the father of many of the men and boys who were drafted into Company D of the 166th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry regiment (Drafted Militia) in early November of that year. Buck traveled to the town of York where he signed his name on the muster list.
On the 10th, he was mustered into the service at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg and received his uniform, musket, and accouterments. He and his new fellow soldiers were transported through Hanover Junction to Baltimore and then farther south to Washington D.C. From their, the 166th was sent to the front lines, serving at Newport News and Suffolk, Virginia in December as part of Foster’s Brigade in the Seventh Corps. They would stay in the Suffolk region until their nine-months term of service expired in July 1863 (ironically they mustered out shortly after their home county had been invaded by the Confederate army, including some regiment who they had faced in the Suffolk campaign).
Among the expeditions and battles that David Buck and his comrades in the 166th endured were the battles of Deserted House in late January 1863, an engagement in Leesburg in April, and the Siege of Suffolk from April 11 until May 4.
Other operations included Edenton, Providence Church and Somerton Roads April 12-13. Somerton Road April 15 and 20. Edenton Road April 24. Operations on Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad May 12-26. Holland House, Carrsville, May 15-16. Dix’s Peninsula Campaign June 27-July 7. Expedition from White House to South Anna River July 1-7. South Anna Bridge July 4.
Buck and the 166th Pennsylvania moved to Washington, D. C., on July 8 in preparation for the end of their service. They were mustered out on July 28.
Seventeen of Buck’s fellow soldiers in the regiment died during their term of service — six by hostile fire and eleven by disease. That percentage holds true for many Civil War regiments where poor sanitation and health care, exposure, and cramped quarters led to the spread of disease.
David Buck returned to North Codorus Township and resumed his career as a wagoner. He died at the age of 58 on February 13, 1881 and was buried in St. Paul’s (Ziegler’s) Cemetery off of Ziegler’s Church Road.