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Country boys formed the ‘Bucktails’

September 16, 2012

Photo by Victoria Stanish Pictured are reenactors posing as members of the Bucktails during a monument dedication ceremony held at Mt. Zion Historical Park.

J.D. Petruzzi, Civil War historian and author from Brockway, noted that a bunch of backwoods country boys would soon form the elite group known as the “Bucktails.”
In his address to the audience during the Bucktail Monument dedication at Mt. Zion Historical Park, Petruzzi said the Bucktails became famous among their brothers-in-arms and even among those who fought against them.
“The term 'Bucktails' was so respected at the start of the war as to be uttered in awe by their comrades and declared with respect and honor when they met Confederates," Petruzzi said.
He said the Bucktails were known to give a "wildcat yell" when going into battle and the area comprising Elk, Forest and McKean counties was known as the "Wildcat District,"
"Not because there were actually wild cats in these parts-- it was so known because the lumbermen of this area were referred to as a ‘loud and boisterous lot,’” Petruzzi said. "If you spent most of your time out in the wilds of Pennsylvania doing such hard and dangerous work day in and day out, you’d probably get a little loud at times, too. That was the type of rough and hearty man that that type of work required."
Petruzzi said these rough-and-ready men became well-known for being good shots and much of their skill was due to their country upbringing.
"By and large, the men of the Bucktails were superior marksmen. You had to be, or you would not be accepted by the rest of them," Petruzzi said. "They were not city-raised boys, certainly. They often lived by the seat of their pants, and they ate what they shot. Considering the weapons of the day, you had to be a decent shot to take down a deer or elk, much less a squirrel or a rabbit. In fact, early in the war, the Bucktails spent much of their time on sharpshooting or skirmishing duty, both of which required a clear eye and a steady hand.

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