SOLDIER LETTERS - PRIVATE JOSEPH BUNTING, CO. “L”, 15TH PENNSYLVANIA CAVALRY

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Item Code: 945-344

Four letter grouping, plus a real photo postcard of a funeral motor hearse, ca. 1915; letters dated [1] “September 8th, 1862,” [2] “Camp Alabama, Carlisle, PA, Oct. 11, 1862”; [3] “Headquarters Anderson Cavalry, Camp near Louisville, KY, Dec. 7th/ 62”, [4] Bolling Green [KY], Dec. 19—1862]. 4 pages each, 5.125 x 6.5”, all written in a mixture of ink and pencil. All exhibit fold-marks, while remaining entirely legible. VG plus, in protective sleeves.

Private Joseph Shallcross Bunting mustered into Co. “L”, 15th PA Cavalry, 10/10/1862 and was discharged for disability, 2/9/1863. His regiment, referred to as “Anderson Cavalry,” was formed round its cadre company (“Anderson Troop, Co. “A”) in the autumn of 1862. Soon after, the unit served in a rear echelon capacity during the Antietam Campaign before being transferred to the western theater to become the headquarters escort and scouting unit for commanders of the Army of the Cumberland, serving in this capacity under General Rosecrans and Thomas, whose favorite regiment they became.

During their 1862 transfer from east to west, from Carlisle, PA’s, Camp Alabama to Nashville via Louisville, the 15th PA experienced considerable turbulence. Staffed with very few officers and non-coms, the 15th was extremely disoriented by this rush transfer to the west. When ordered to accompany the Army of Cumberland on its advance toward the engagement that would become the Battle of Stones River, without a sufficient number of officers to lead them, 600 of its members stacked arms and refused to leave the barracks. While the affair smacked of mutiny, their complaints were legitimate, and the affair was eventually smoothed with minimal repercussions for anyone.

Following its reorganization following Stones River, the 15th performed with distinction in the Tullahoma Campaign and the Battle of Chickamauga, and later participated in the Chattanooga and Nashville Campaigns. It was mustered out, 6/21/1865, in Nashville, TN. During service it lost 25 killed and mortally wounded, and 103 by disease for a total of 128. The 15th served creditably the rest of the way in. During service it lost 25 men killed or mortally wounded and 125 by disease for a total of 128.

Bunting, born in 1839 in Delaware County, PA died in 1888 and is buried in Darby Friends Cemetery in Darby, PA, along with his wife, children, and parents.  After he mustered out of the 15th Pennsylvania, he is listed in a draft registration dated June 30, 1863, noting his former service in the 15th PA Cavalry. It states that at the time he was 24 years of age and was an auctioneer by trade.  It is interesting to note that Bunting was a Quaker – a religious sect known for their pacifism. Many Quakers, however, actively engaged in military service during the Civil War in spite of the continued opposition to war by their Meetings. [jp/ld]

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