Chaplain William N. Buckles
Virginia-Tennessee Railroad Hospital, Bristol, VA
By Dr. H. Rondel Rumburg
God in His divine providence works out the parents and place of our origin. We do not come into this world as a result of some cosmic accident, but we are brought forth with great deliberation and purpose. On September 24th, 1834 William N. Buckles was born in the most eastern part of Tennessee. Carter County borders North Carolina. Providentially he was brought up and educated in the agrarian South. What a blessed start.
The Lord was pleased to be gracious to Buckles the sinner and showed him His so great salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. George B. Taylor wrote, “Just one month, to a day, after he had reached his majority he was baptized into the fellowship of the Old Holston Baptist Church, Tennessee. Two years later his mother church licensed him to preach, and in 1862 he was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry.”
When the War of Northern Aggression was brought against his home and state William N. Buckles enlisted in Company K of the Third Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers. He joined to fight under Colonel John C. Vaughan. Not only was he a private in the ranks but he became a distributor of Christian literature as well as a Confederate Hospital Chaplain in Bristol, Virginia. Buckles was active either fighting the enemy or fighting for the souls of men by preaching and ministering to the sick and wounded. Tending the sick and wounded regarding their spiritual needs and burying them when they died was the task William N. Buckles believed the Lord would have him do.
Since his call to the ministry was about the time of the Federal invasion he had not had time to prepare himself to be a student of God’s holy Word. Knowing he was inadequately trained, once his chaplain’s duties ended with the conclusion of the war, he entered the old Blountville Academy at Blountville, Tennessee where he remained for three sessions. Thus like others before him he left to commence the ministry of the gospel. By this time he was in his thirty-first year of age.
Having met Miss Seraphine Pyle of Sullivan County, Tennessee he found he could not live without her so he eventually made a request for her hand in marriage. They joined in holy matrimony and commenced their lives together. Theirs was a happy home which was blessed with four children.
Pastor Buckles began as a pastor in East Tennessee. He was also very fond of good Christian books and was a colporteur. He served a number of churches. Also he was an instrument in the Lord’s hand in the organization the Holston Valley Baptist Church and he led in the construction of a building in which to worship.
The Lord led Pastor Buckles to Virginia in 1876 and he spent the rest of his ministry there.
His ministry was centered in Russell County in the most western part of Virginia which was not far from where he was born. He pastored the Lebanon, Bethel and Honaker Baptist Churches. His ministry was among local churches in the New Lebanon Baptist Association. William N. Buckles was a resident of Bristol during much of his time. The latter part of his ministry was at Lewis Creek, Oak Grove, Castlewood, Pleasant Hill, Green Valley, Liberty Hill and Cedar Grove Baptist Church.
Part of those years he was the moderator of the New Lebanon Baptist Association. He was noted for his wise leadership. He was a man who sought to be faithful to the Lord and the work that had been entrusted into his hands.
On the Lord’s Day, February 2nd, 1908 William N. Buckles received his summons to meet with his Lord. His work was finished. On the following Tuesday afternoon his family and a multitude of friends gathered for his home-going service which was led by Pastor T. A. Hall. The interment was in the Russell Memorial Cemetery where the mortal remains await the resurrection.
Pastor Charles E. Stuart said in his obituary, “In this day of glorious harvest we can never thank God too much for these pioneer missionaries of the cross.”
Descendents of Confederate soldiers need to remember these men who were Confederate Chaplains. They ministered in the most grievous times. They have never received much acknowledgment in this world. Although they tended many of our ancestors as they entered the next world we should be appreciative of their labors which followed them.