When a soldier goes off to war, they recognize that there is always the possibility that they may never return home. Some of those soldiers may survive the battlefield only to be captured by the enemy and sent away to a far-off prison-of-war camp. If they were lucky they returned home, but not in the case of this fallen hero.
Frederick F. Bukey’s (1837-1864) great-grandfather, John Bukey (1736-1778), arrived in New Jersey from Switzerland in the early 1750s. He shortly afterwards married Marcia Dunn (1740-1804) and began the family’s gradual westward movement. The family had made it as far as Wheeling, Virginia by the time of Frederick’s father’s birth in 1804. It was Frederick’s father, Fleming Bukey (1804-1877), who settled his family in Tuscarawas County, Ohio by the 1830s.
Fleming married Marie Farmer (1806-1878) in 1832 and the couple began to raise their family on their farm in Mill Township. The couple would have six children, but at least four of them never lived past the age of thirty. Their son Frederick Farmer Bukey was born in 1837, the third child after his two older, twin, siblings. The Bukey’s would eventually own over 400 acres of land in the township, making them one of the largest landholders in Tuscarawas County by the time of Fleming’s death.
Frederick married a young girl from a Washington County, Pennsylvania family, possibly friends of the Bukey family from their westward movement, named Emma Cracraft (1836-1912) in 1859. The young couple settled on a farm adjacent to Frederick’s father’s farm in Mill Township and began their own family. While Frederick suffered the loss of three siblings before the Civil War began, it was tempered by the arrival of two of his own children before he entered military service in 1862.
Whether Frederick was drafted or volunteered for service is unknown, but in September 1862 he was enlisted into Company C of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. The 7th Cavalry was raised principally in southwest Ohio, but included men from other parts of the state as well, and was mustered into service from early September into early November 1862. Frederick, along with the rest of the men who served in the regiment, enlisted for three year’s of service. Following its creation and training, the regiment was sent to Kentucky for its first taste of combat at Carter’s Station.
The 7th Cavalry Regiment would fight in a number of engagements in Kentucky and Tennessee during 1863, in addition to being assigned to pursue Morgan’s Raiders during their incursion into Indiana and Ohio. During the Knoxville Campaign in the fall of 1863, the 7th suffered a stinging defeat at a little town in Tennessee called Rogersville. The unit lost 112 men, killed and wounded, and a large number of men were taken prisoner. Among them was Private Frederick Bukey. The prisoners were taken to Richmond, Virginia’s Belle Isle prisoner-of-war camp located on a small island in the James River just opposite the city.
Private Bukey was a prisoner at the camp for over a year, even as other soldiers were released from prisoner exchanges and paroles. The Confederate commander during his stay at the camp was Captain Henry Wirz, the infamous head of the Andersonville, Georgia prisoner-of-war camp. Frederick became sick towards the end of 1863 and that sickness eventually took his life in early February 1864. While he is memorialized at Newport Methodist Cemetery in Tuscarawas County, he is buried at Richmond National Cemetery in Virginia.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.