William Langdon Buck – Major, United States Army

William Langdon Buck of Alabama

  • Appointed from Alabama, Cadet, United States Military Academy, 1 Sepember 1874 (17)
  • Second Lieutenant, 13th Infantry, 14 June 1878
  • First Lieutenant, 4 February 1888
  • Captain, 23 March 1898
  • Major, 18th Infantry, 11 October 2902
  • Transferred to 3rd Infantry, 10 March 1903

William Langdon Buck of Mobile, Alabama, as a Captain in the 13th United States Infantry Regiment served during the Spanish American War. He was the son of Confederate Colonel William A. Buck of the 24th Alabama, and was born on January 30th, 1856, in Mobile, Alabama. He graduated from West Point and served in the United States Military from 1878 to 1912, during that time rising from the rank of Second Lieutenant to Colonel, at the time of his death. He died on October 12th, 1912, at Walter Reed Hospital at the age of 56.

NOTE: His wife was the daughter of Leroy R. Hawthorne, Brevet Major, United States Army, and her brother was Harry Leroy Hawthorne, Colonel, United States Army, who was a receipient of the Medal of Honor during the Indian Wars.

Courtesy of the Micah J. Jenkins Camp No. 164 of the Sons of Spanish American War Veterans
Via: Kenneth H. Robison II, July 2008



William Langdon Buck was born on January 30th, 1856, in Mobile, Alabama, to William A. Buck and Margaret Langdon. In 1861 his father left young William and his mother and organized the 24th Alabama Volunteer Infantry Regiment, of which he was appointed Colonel of that Regiment, and served honorably with that Regiment in General Arthur M. Manigault’s Brigade of the Army of Tennessee, until his resignation on account of wounds that he had sustained during the course of the War.

On September 1st, 1874, William Buck entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, as a Cadet, and began his Military Education. On June 13th, 1878, he graduated 17th in his class of 43 from the Military Academy, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in the United States Army and assigned to the 13th United States Infantry Regiment. At the time of his graduation from the Military Academy he was among the first Cadets from the South, following the Civil War, to enter the United States Military through the Military Academy. He returned home to Alabama, on a brief furlough following his graduation, in his United States Army Uniform, and had expected to meet some hesitancy on the part of the folks in his area as to him wearing a United States Army Uniform. But upon his return home to his friends and his neighbors, wearing the blue uniform, it at once had a most remarkable effect upon them and was a step forward towards the reconciliation between those men of the Blue and Gray.

Following his graduation from West Point Lieutenant Buck was assigned to garrison duty in Atlanta, Georgia, from September to December of 1878, and from December of 1878 to July of 1880 he was on duty with the Regiment at the Baton Rouge Barracks in Louisiana, the Newport Barracks in Kentucky, and finally at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. From July of 1880 to March of 1883 he was assigned to frontier duty at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, where he was engaged in the construction of Telegraph Lines in 1881 and commanding the Rifle Teams in 1882. He returned to the East in March of 1883 and was assigned to duty as the Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College in Mississippi, where he remained on duty until July 1st, 1886. During his time at the College he formed a close friendship with the President of the College, former Confederate Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee, which lasted until their death. He returned to frontier duty at Fort Wingate in July of 1886 and was assigned to command of the Indian Scouts in that area, commanding them in the field until October of 1886, and remaining at the post until June of 1888. During his time at Fort Wingate he received his promotion to First Lieutenant of Infantry on February 4th, 1888, remaining on duty with the 13th Infantry Regiment. In June of 1888 he was assigned to duty at Fort Logan, Colorado, and by July he had been transferred to Fort Reno, Indian Territory, where he would remain until April 26th, 1889. He was next assigned to duty at the Little Rock Barracks in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he would be detailed as the Regimental Quartermaster of the 13th Infantry Regiment until March 1st, 1893. He was detailed to duty with the Wisconsin National Guard on February 16th, 1893, and for the next four years he served on duty with them as the Acting Inspector General of the Wisconsin National Guard until February 16th, 1897. In February of 1897 he was assigned to duty as the Superintendent of the Military Department, and Professor of Military Science and Tactics at St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin, remaining on duty at the Academy until August 5th, 1898. While at the Military Academy he received a promotion to Captain of Infantry with the 13th Infantry Regiment on March 23rd, 1898.

With the declaration of War between the United States and Spain on April 25th, 1898, Captain Buck was assigned to duty as the Mustering Officer of United States Volunteers for the State of Wisconsin on April 28th, until August 5th when he was designated as the Assistant Mustering officer for the State, serving as such until March of 1899. In January of 1899 he was appointed as the General Recruiting Officer for the United States Army in Wisconsin and would continue on recruiting duty to March 1st.  With the ending of the War with the Spain the various Volunteer units of the United States Army began returning home and it fell to officers such as Captain Buck to see that they were properly mustered out of United States service, so from August 25th, 1898, to March 23rd, 1899, he was on duty as the Mustering Out officer of Volunteers at Camp Douglas in Wisconsin.

Following his duties as a Mustering and Recruiting Officer in Wisconsin he reported for duty in the Philippine Islands, and on November 3rd, 1899, he was assigned as the commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion of the 13th Infantry Regiment. During his time in command of the Battalion he led them in to the actions at Guadaloupe Ridge on June 10th, at San Fabian on November 7th, San Jacinto on November 11th, and finally in the action along the Rabon River on November 14th, 1899. He commanded the Battalion until January 1st, 1901, when he was appointed as the President of the Military Commission at Cailang, serving with the commission until the 30th, when he was assigned to an Examining Board in Iba, remaining on duty there until February 11th, when he returned to command of the 3rd Battalion. From then until July 30th, 1902, he bounced between command of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions during there actions in the Philippines During that time he was temporarily detached as a Member of the General Staff at Malabon from November to December of 1901.  On October 11th, 1902, Captain Buck received his promotion to Major of Infantry and was assigned to the 18th United States Infantry Regiment.

After serving in the Philippine Islands since November of 1899 Major Buck returned to the United States on June 19th, 1902, at San Francisco, California, to join the 18th Infantry Regiment. However before he joined the 18th Infantry he was transferred to the 3rd Infantry Regiment, and joined them at Fort Thomas, Kentucky, on March 29th, 1903, where he was appointed to command of the 1st Battalion of the Regiment. During his stay at Fort Thomas he meet Miss Winona Lee Hawthorne, the daughter of Major LeRoy R. Hawthorne, and after a courtship the two were married. He was temporarily detached from the Battalion from April 30th to June 15th, 1903, while he was conducting an inspection of the Kentucky National Guard. Following the Inspection he returned to Fort Thomas and command of the 1st Battalion, and was detached again on July 26th, 1903. This time he was placed in the charge of the Army and Department Rifle Competition at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, from July 27th to September 13th, 1903, and was then sent to Sea Girt, New Jersey, where he served as Captain of the Army Infantry Rifle Team, and as such succeeded in winning the Dryden Trophy. After his service with the Rifle Team he served in the maneuvers at West Point, New York, from September to October of 1903, and was then placed in command of the post at Fort Thomas, Kentucky, from January to February of 1904.

On July 21st, 1904, he was assigned to service at Fort St. Michael, Alaska, and upon his arrival there on the 23rd he was placed in command of the post, remaining in command until his departure on August 3rd, 1905, for Tennessee. He was next assigned to detached service as an Instructor at the Columbia Military Academy at Columbia, Tennessee, and remained there from October 4th, 1906, to October 4th, 1908. On January 7th, 1907, while at the Columbia Military Academy he was transferred from the 3rd Infantry Regiment to the 10th Infantry Regiment, and on October 5th, 1908, following his service at the Military Academy he joined the Regiment at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana and was assigned to command of the 2nd Battalion. He remained on duty with the Battalion there until July 15th, 1909, when he was taken ill and admitted to the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., staying at the Hospital for treatment until June 11th, 1910. After his release he returned to duty with the Battalion at Fort Benjamin Harrison, where on August 28th, 1910, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and assigned to the 5th Infantry Regiment, which he joined in September of 1910 at Plattsburg Barracks, New York.

While on duty at Plattsburg he received his final promotion to the rank of Colonel of Infantry on March 2nd, 1912, but on September 30th, 1912, he was again taken ill and admitted to the Walter Reed Hospital. On October 20th, 1912, while under treatment at the Hospital he died of his illness at the age of 56 (57). The illness that had caused his death and prior admission to the Hospital was described as an “Oriental disease that he had contracted while on duty in the Philippines. Despite fighting the illness for over twelve years, and recovering from it once before he was finally overcome by the illness and passed away.

Following his death the following was written about him: “Patience, courage, patriotism, intellectuality, so blended in this high-thoughted son of the South as to make of him an ideal soldier, who was at once an honor to his section and country. He leaves behind him a beautiful memory that will bloom forever in the hearts of his loving friends.”


  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/20/1912


  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/02/1935

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