Title: Army Private, Civil War; fraudulent author
Birthdate: September 4, 1847
Death Date: May 23, 1904
Plot Location: Section 60, Lot 17
Augustus Caesar Buell and his two younger sisters were born to Simon and Julia Buell, residents of King’s Settlement, near Norwich in central New York. Beyond this piece of personal information, the facts of this man’s life are fraught with inconsistencies and possibly outright falsehoods.
A newspaper account says he ran away from home to join the Army. Records confirm Augustus enlisted with Company L of the 20th New York Cavalry on August 21, 1863, claiming to be 18 years old when he was not yet 16. He was mustered in as a private, promoted to corporal in November and mustered out as a private on July 31, 1865, still not yet 18 years old. What transpired to cause his demotion is unknown, but for the rest of his life he claimed the title of Colonel.
After leaving the military, Augustus continued his education in New York and graduated from Cazenovia Seminary in 1868. From this point on, his professional titles include journalist, civil engineer, biographer, editor, and correspondent. From 1883-1903 his newspaper obituary says he was secretary to Charles Cramp, president of the Cramp Shipbuilding Company of Philadelphia, while the 1900 census lists his occupation as civil engineer.
As a journalist, Augustus wrote a series of articles for the Washington National Tribune based on his recollections of the Civil War. These articles were later assembled into his first book The Cannoneer: Recollections of Service in the Army of the Potomac ‘By A Detached Volunteer’ in the Regular Artillery published in 1890.
Despite the compelling firsthand accounts of the battle at Gettysburg in the book, military records prove Augustus entered the army weeks after the famous battle took place. Biographies followed for John Paul Jones, William Penn, Andrew Jackson and others. However, history has shown that although the outline for most of this work was based in fact, many of the details, anecdotal stories and reference sources were fabricated.
Augustus married Madeline Polk in Washington, D.C. in 1878 when she was 21. A son was born in 1879 and a daughter in 1880. The marriage ended in the early 1890s; he married Gertrude Wicklein in 1894 while she became Madeline Mackall in 1899 and died in 1902.
His work is still cited and referenced in writings today but has been shown to be unreliable for any historical accuracy. Even the details of his own life were edited and revised to suit his needs. It’s been said that Augustus Buell never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
He was a member of the Pen and Pencil Club, a social group for journalists that had purchased a lot for its members at Mount Moriah. His name is one of ten on this stone where “Fourth Estate” is inscribed on the base, another term for the journalistic profession, of which Augustus Buell made a mockery.
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