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  • Writer's pictureBeth Stenstrom

James Letherbury

James Letherbury

Rank: Lieutenant, 2nd Delaware Regiment

Descendants: Russ S

James W. Letherbury was born in Dover, Delaware about 1840. He enlisted in the 2nd Delaware Regiment as a private in May, 1861 and served in Company A in the Eastern Shore Campaign of 1861-62 and in the Peninsula Campaign in the spring of 1862. In April 1862 he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.

At Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, in June, 1862, Letherbury contracted typhoid fever, which was rampant in the regiment, and was transported to Point Lookout Hospital for treatment. Because of his illness, he resigned his commission in September, thereby missing the Battle of Antietam where his regiment gained the sobriquet of the Crazy Delawares because of their unwillingness to pull back after their charge through the Bloody Lane.

Letherbury was appointed 1st Lieutenant in Company A in April, 1863 and mustered in at Falmouth, Virginia, on May 7, just a few days after the battle of Chancellorsville. He was with the regiment from then on until it mustered out on July 1, 1864, participating in the battles of Gettysburg, Bristoe Station, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, and Cold Harbor (where he was wounded in the ankle) and a number of lesser actions.

Durin§the Battle of the Wilderness, Letherbury commanded either Company A or Company E of the 2nd Delaware (He was assigned to Company E for a short time in May). The regiment at that time was part of the Fourth Brigade (Colonel John R. Brooke), First Division (Brigadier Francis C. Barlow); Second Corps (Major General Winfield Scott Hancock).

The First Division was stationed on the extreme left of the Army of the Potomac during the Battle of the Wilderness. Its mission was to protect the Corps artillery and to prevent a flank attack up the Brock Road. Although elements of the Division were called upon to help blunt the latter part of Longstreet’s attack, it seems that the 2nd Delaware was not heavily engaged. In fact, the regiment recorded only one casualty and that on May 5th.

After the war, Letherbury received a Regular Army commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company I, 17th U.S. Infantry. He served with the 17th on occupation duty in the South (including Virginia) and on the frontier until 1871.

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