CDV- “A Brave Man”-Captain Amos Buffum, 36th Mass Vols


Capt. Buffum was killed before Petersburg; General Burnside called him “a brave man.”

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Amos Buffum was a 37 year old mechanic from Templeton, Massachusetts when he enlisted into the 25th Mass Volunteer Infantry on October 12th, 1861, as a 2nd lieutenant.  He resigned his commission on March 31, 1862. The following August Amos Buffum mustered In as captain of Company “D” of the 36th Mass Volunteers, recruited principally from Templeton and Winchendon.

This regiment was present for the Battle of Fredericksburg, Va, took part in the January, ’63 “Mud March” and in a few months later were detached to service in the Department of the Ohio. Then in the western theater of the war, Captain Buffum and the 36th Mass. participated in the Siege of Vicksburg, and were part of many engagements against the enemy. Bounced around between the Departments of the Ohio and the Army of Tennessee, the 36th Mass spent most of the year in pursuit of Longstreet’s troops in Kentucky, before ordered back east in March of 1864.

In early April the regiment had reported in Annapolis, Maryland and was assigned to the 9th Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac.  The regiment was heavily engaged in the battles of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania Court House, Va.  Taken from the unit history, History of the Thirty-sixth regiment Massachusetts volunteers. 1862-1865, this account of Captain Buffum at Spottsylvania C.H. on the 12th of May;

“They were formed squarely across our flank, and Captain Buffum, Acting Major, who had command of the left wing, walked out on the narrow wagon-track which diagonally crossed our left, across which these rebels had formed, and waving his sword toward them, cried out, “Come in, Johnnies ! We won t hurt you. Come in !” We could look into their very faces. We could almost see the whites of their eyes. They were the veterans of A. P. Hill, Lane’s brigade, One of Heth’s division. As far as we could distinguish weapons they were standing at ordered arms. Captain Buffum was but ten yards from them, and going toward their line, when he was answered by a murderous volley, which will never be forgotten by any who survived it. And never shall we forget the splendid coolness and courage of Captain Buffum as he came back to the line, and amid the confusion which followed this terrible attack, calmly faced two or three companies to the left, and gave the order, “Let them have it !” Though suffering fearfully the regiment behaved nobly. The attack was terrific. It was the most awful moment of our history.” 

On the 16th;  “On the 16th Captain Buffum, in charge of the skirmish line, advanced the pickets, and strengthened and improved the front line.”  

Many more engagements occurred from then on, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Bethesda Church, and then began the Siege of Petersburg, Va., and it was here in the first assault upon Petersburg that Captain Buffum fell along with three other officers.

“After the last attack the firing slackened somewhat, and was confined to the front line of battle, and it was fondly hoped that the record of sacrifice and bloodshed for that day was fully made up. The company cooks brought up the coffee, the only refreshment the regiment had received since daylight. The men were huddled behind the low breastwork eating supper, when the attention of Captain Bufium was attracted by some movement in front, and he rose to ascertain the cause…..He had scarcely risen to his feet when the fatal bullet, directed by the unerring aim of the watchful rebel sharp-shooter, struck him. He uttered a piercing cry, sprang into the air, fell back, and in a few moments passed beyond the reach of pain. The scene was witnessed by nearly all the regiment, and sent a thrill of horror to every heart…..At any time his death would have been a severe loss ; at such a moment it came with almost crushing weight, and seemed irreparable. He was the senior officer in years, and then the second in rank of a fast-dwindling band. He was beloved and respected by all, and his death cast deep gloom over the entire regiment. We recalled his patience and bravery during the entire campaign, the sorrow which seemed to pierce his heart as he referred to the great losses of his company, and especially the wonderful coolness he displayed at Spottsylvania, when, in advance of the line, he received the rebel fire, and returned to draw back the left wing .and save the regiment, if not the entire division, from capture or death.
After dark, when the line had been established for the night, the Adjutant was sent to corps head-quarters to beg permission that the Captain s remains might be sent at once to City Point for shipment to Massachusetts. General Burnside was found lying prone on the ground under a tree. The case was briefly stated. “Buffum,” said he, “is Buffum dead? Why, he was in North Carolina with us ! He was a brave man I remember him well. Oh!” he added, with much emotion, “how fast these brave men are going !” Then calling his Adjutant-General, the order necessary for the removal of the body was given in terms which revealed his noble, sympathetic nature.”


I have read many accounts of the bravery of others during the Civil War, but seldom is it brought to the forefront the extreme importance an man can have within his regiment.  Captain Amos Buffum was truly a remarkably brave man.

The image is of Buffum standing with frock coat open in front of a painted back drop.  There is no photographer information, just his name and unit info written in pencil. I can’t verify if this is an autograph, assuming not until otherwise enlightened.

Condition is very good- fine condition.

I have provided a data sheet showing another image of the captain.

Additional information

Weight .5 lbs