158 Years Ago Today-Buford Enters Gettysburg

Gettysburg Greg

Sergeant
Joined
Jun 6, 2010
Location
Decatur, Illinois
158 years ago today....When General Buford entered Gettysburg on June 30th, 1863, he was confronted by locals who informed him Confederates had been spotted west and north of town. The General immediately rushed his troopers along with six cannon through town to set up defensive positions on the ridges west of town. Mort Kunstler captured the moment as the troopers urgently rushed passed the Adams County Courthouse in his print, "Rendezvous with Destiny". You can almost hear the horses' hooves thundering down Baltimore Street! Below is the print along with a similar modern perspective from google earth.
Court house Combo.jpg
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Not the first time Kunstler has done that. Maybe people buy more prints that match the movie rather than ones that are historically accurate.
There is a question that I would like some information regarding this incident. How did Buford know that the Confederate army was about to come to this area down this road ? Is it true that his force had carbines and therefore were able to slow the advance of Hill's division.? Did he really use the bell tower at the church to observe Confederate movements? Not only is it the horse ,see how he portrays the scene of Bufford's arrival in to the that spot .Which is the real Bufford or neither ?One more; Wonder way there is not a monument or statute at this location to Bufford and his cavalry ?
 

rob63

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Location
PA, but still a Hoosier
There is a question that I would like some information regarding this incident. How did Buford know that the Confederate army was about to come to this area down this road ? Is it true that his force had carbines and therefore were able to slow the advance of Hill's division.? Did he really use the bell tower at the church to observe Confederate movements? Not only is it the horse ,see how he portrays the scene of Bufford's arrival in to the that spot .Which is the real Bufford or neither ?One more; Wonder way there is not a monument or statute at this location to Bufford and his cavalry ?
I think Gettysburg Greg's original post answers your first question, local citizens informed him of the presence of Confederates.

Yes, they had carbines, and yes, they slowed the advance. I don't know that it necessarily follows that the carbines were the reason why though. Confederate confusion about suddenly facing Federal regulars when they weren't expecting it, along with orders to not bring on an engagement surely played a part.

Yes, he really did use the cupola at the Seminary. I understand it to be a building at a religious school rather than a church. There is a church nearby, but that is not the building that he used.

I'm not really sure what you are asking in the next question. If you are comparing the two paintings shown previously, one shows him in front of the courthouse, the other shows him in front of what appears to me to be the McPherson barn. These are two different locations.

There are monuments on the battlefield to Buford and his troopers. It's not real clear which location you are asking about, but there is a very nice statue of Buford near where the fighting started. It's not far from the barn shown in the second painting.

Buford12160817_s.jpg
 
Last edited:

RochesterBill

Corporal
Joined
Oct 11, 2016
I start every single visit to Gettysburg by stopping first at Bufords statue. Without his vision, leadership and guts the battle, and possibly the war, would have turned out much differently.

I have always wondered how differently some things would have turned out if Mr. F.J. Hooker had named Buford to head the Cavalry instead of Pleasanton. Joe later admitted that he should have done so, but instead he made Buford to lead a reserve brigade despite him having been Chief of Cavalry under both McClellan and Burnside.

Hooker made some boneheaded decisions but that one has to rank right near the top. That army needed more men who, like Buford, actively wanted to fight rebels.
 

neyankee61

Private
Joined
Oct 30, 2018
Buford's boys were armed as follows
Gamble's Brigade
8th Ill-Sharps carbines
12th Ill-Burnside carbines
3rd Ind-Gallager and Sharps carbines
8th NY-Sharps carbines
Devin's Brigade
6th NY-Sharps carbines
9th NY-Sharps and Smith carbines
17th PA-Merrill and Smith carbines
3rd WVa-Gallager and Smith carbines
Most troopers also carried Colt.44 with a few Colt .36 and Remington .36
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
Not the first time Kunstler has done that. Maybe people buy more prints that match the movie rather than ones that are historically accurate.
No question about that, especially since he was hired by movie publicists specifically to illustrate and promote the films Gettysburg and Gods And Generals.
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
DSC05689.JPG

I start every single visit to Gettysburg by stopping first at Bufords statue. Without his vision, leadership and guts the battle, and possibly the war, would have turned out much differently...

Hooker made some boneheaded decisions but that one has to rank right near the top. That army needed more men who, like Buford, actively wanted to fight rebels.
The only negative thing I can think of about Buford and one which receives almost no mention from our group of Gettysburg-centric members is his uncharacteristic and I believe unexplained actions screening Pope's army during the runup to Second Manassas. As I remember he was involved in blocking Longstreet's advance through Thoroughfare Gap but withdrew, much like he did from Sickles' flank on the second day here. Of course, THAT was Pleasonton's fault - but what about Thoroughfare Gap? @Eric Wittenberg ??
 

Eric Wittenberg

1st Lieutenant
Keeper of the Scales
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
View attachment 406642

The only negative thing I can think of about Buford and one which receives almost no mention from our group of Gettysburg-centric members is his uncharacteristic and I believe unexplained actions screening Pope's army during the runup to Second Manassas. As I remember he was involved in blocking Longstreet's advance through Thoroughfare Gap but withdrew, much like he did from Sickles' flank on the second day here. Of course, THAT was Pleasonton's fault - but what about Thoroughfare Gap? @Eric Wittenberg ??
Nope. That's one of those obnoxious myths perpetuated by first The Killer Angels and then by the Gettysburg movie that just refuse to die. The passage of Longstreet's Corps through Thoroughfare Gap was resisted by the infantry division on BG James Ricketts. Buford and his brigade were nowhere in the area.

Buford DID sit up on the bluffs and watch the passage of Longstreet's command, personally counting battle flags. He sent a dispatch up his chain of command to MG Irvin McDowell reporting what he saw. McDowell reported this intel to Pope, who ignored it. That failure is on Pope, not on Buford, who provided timely, clear, and very accurate intelligence.
 

Eric Wittenberg

1st Lieutenant
Keeper of the Scales
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
There is a question that I would like some information regarding this incident. How did Buford know that the Confederate army was about to come to this area down this road ?
He had seen the massive encampment of Confederate infantry at Cashtown from Jack's Mountain near Fairfield on the night of June 29 and then had a skirmish with some of Harry Heth's infantry at Fairfield on the morning of June 30. He knew precisely where they were and where they were coming from.
Is it true that his force had carbines and therefore were able to slow the advance of Hill's division.?
Yes. Single shot breechloading carbines. There were no Spencer repeating rifles reported by the members of his command in their June 30, 1863 ordnance reports. Someone else provided the precise weapons reported above.
Did he really use the bell tower at the church to observe Confederate movements?
No. He used the cupola at the Lutheran Seminary for that purpose.
Not only is it the horse ,see how he portrays the scene of Bufford's arrival in to the that spot .Which is the real Bufford or neither ?
There's a lot of poetic license taken there.
One more; Wonder way there is not a monument or statute at this location to Bufford and his cavalry ?
As indicated above, there is a monument on McPherson's Ridge that is quite an accurate depiction.

If the topic of John Buford at Gettysburg is of interest to you, you might consider reading this book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ONZQ8SQ/?tag=civilwartalkc-20.
 
Last edited:

Eric Wittenberg

1st Lieutenant
Keeper of the Scales
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
This is a very accurate depiction. This scene was my idea, and I provided my research to Don Troiani. That's the reason why this painting is the only one that has ever correctly depicted the color of Buford's horse, Gray Eagle. I wrote the essay that appears on the Certificate of Authenticity that went out with each copy of this print. It's hanging on the wall a few feet away from me as I write this.

Beside showing Buford instructing Calef about where to deploy his guns, Buford's beloved Irish aide and staff officer, Capt. Myles W. Keogh, is also depicted in this scene.
 

Eric Wittenberg

1st Lieutenant
Keeper of the Scales
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
I start every single visit to Gettysburg by stopping first at Bufords statue. Without his vision, leadership and guts the battle, and possibly the war, would have turned out much differently.

I have always wondered how differently some things would have turned out if Mr. F.J. Hooker had named Buford to head the Cavalry instead of Pleasanton. Joe later admitted that he should have done so, but instead he made Buford to lead a reserve brigade despite him having been Chief of Cavalry under both McClellan and Burnside.

Hooker made some boneheaded decisions but that one has to rank right near the top. That army needed more men who, like Buford, actively wanted to fight rebels.
As you may know, I have devoted much of my adult life to the study of John Buford's life and career. He plays a major role in a number of my books, not the least of which is a monograph dedicated to his role in the Battle of Gettysburg, and I have also published a number of articles that also deal with his life and career in various ways. These are questions that I have often wrestled with.

Your point is well-taken, of course, but the reality is that in an army where seniority meant everything, it wasn't going to happen. Pleasonton outranked Buford by virtue of his commission as brigadier general of volunteers pre-dating Buford's by a couple of weeks. Given those hierarchical issues, there was no way that, at that point in the war, FJ Hooker could have promoted Buford over Pleasonton. It just wasn't going to happen.

You say that Hooker "made Buford lead a reserve brigade." That simply isn't true. While Buford was entitled to divisional command by virtue of seniority, he very explicitly REQUESTED that he be placed in command of the Regulars when the Cavalry Corps was formed at Hooker's order in February 1863. That was not a slight--it was granting Buford's explicit request.

I content myself with the words of John Gibbon who, near the end of his life, wrote that "John Buford was the best cavalryman I ever saw." That's good enough for me.

For me, the better question has always been, had Buford not died of typhoid fever in December 1863, what would he have accomplished as commander of the Army of the Cumberland's Cavalry Corps, which position he had agreed to accept just before falling ill with the typhoid that ultimately took his life.
 

cwbuff

Corporal
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Location
Virginia
No question about that, especially since he was hired by movie publicists specifically to illustrate and promote the films Gettysburg and Gods And Generals.
I did not know that. Another case where "following the money" explains a lot.
 
Top