"In great deeds something abides. On great
fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits
linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men
and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of,
heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for
them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream, and lo! The
shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the
vision pass into their souls."
General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Former Colonel of the 20th Maine Infantry
General Officer, graduate of West Point
Photo by Jerry L. Walker 2002
Gettysburg – This battle cannot be remembered without knowing who it was who chose the Union’s defending position or who it was who fired the first shot. The cannon that fired that shot is the near left cannon pictured with the statue of General John Buford.
So many books and stories have been written about this man and I have read most of them.. I have covered his life in my book but just briefly as I thought to write any more than I did would be regurgitating everything that I have read. Some scholars have spent a great deal of their lifetime studying this man and the great battle of Gettysburg.
John was born near Versailles in Woodford County, Kentucky to John and John’s second wife; Ann Bannister Watson Buford. He was John Sr.’s third child and Ann’s first child. John’s half brother was General Napoleon Bonaparte Buford who was also a graduate of West Point. When John was growing up he definitely “Looked Up” to his older brother and emulated him in any way he could. He wanted nothing more than to follow Napoleon to West Point which he did. After his Mom died his father left Kentucky and moved his family to Rock Island, Illinois. He built the first store on the Levee and was Postmaster for several years. John Jr. loved horses and was an excellent judge of horse flesh. He had a purebred black Stallion that he rode bare back all over Rock Island. He was an equestrian that few could match. The people of Rock Island knew and loved John because he was a quiet, unassuming, well mannered kid who remained that way until his death. As he would ride his black stallion bare back, at break neck speed, through out Rock Island the populace, neighbors and friends alike, would smile and comment that “There goes that wild Buford boy!”
John did not show a ridiculous need for showy clothes with feathers in his hat etc. as did J.E.B. Stuart nor the brashness and conceit that was associated with Custer whose famous last words were: “We’ve got them now boys” as he led his men up the hill to their death at the hands of Crazy Horse and his braves, at The Battle of the Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876. John’s men loved him and would have gladly followed him to hell and back. But all this is in my book plus a lot more so will not further enlarge on it.
know most of the history of Gettysburg which John played such an important roll
so I will just say that when I think of General John Buford, and remember his
many talents and escapades, I will think of him as family and be proud to call
him cousin. More than one Buford Descendant has gone to great lengths trying to
prove John was their Grandfather, Uncle or what ever but to no avail. He
is your cousin for sure but not your Grandfather. He and Patty Duke Buford
had two children. A son and a daughter. The daughter died in the
same cholera outbreak that killed Patty's father. She was six years old. This happened while John lay
dieing in Washington. John's son died when he was 19 years of age.
See the Georgetown Cemetery to view their graves.
I have a Nephew who is the spiting image of John and when he visited Gettysburg they treated him like a Rock Star. He didn't tell me so but I have a sneaky feeling he told them he was General John's grandson. I am smiling as I write this, because he probably fooled quite a few of his newly acquired admirers. My Nephew is shy about five or six inches of John's height but his face is a good likeness of General John. His name is also John, the son of my brother John Matthew Buford III. He has a booming voice just like General John was reputed to have had. He too, was disappointed to discover that General John was only a cousin and not his Grandfather.
To read my story about John and his family ties, please turn to page 300 in my new 2005 Buford Book.
There is also a lot of Buford history connected to the Rock Island, Illinois area in the book as well. Besides John Buford Sr. moving there, his cousin and My ggGrand Uncle Charles Buford and family moved there from Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky.
Photo from NARA
West Point - General John Buford Monument
All of the photographs below were taken by Jerry L. Walker 2002
The Cupola where John first saw the CSA approaching.
The barn that was used as a hospital
Although the trees along this road are beautiful we were told by
one of the guides that there were very few trees here
at the time of the battle of Gettysburg. It was all cleared
farm land. The only place to take cover were
ditches and a rolling hilly country side.
Major General Henry Slocum
Major General John F. Reynolds
Looking out over the town of Gettysburg
after a lovely thunderstorm.
The Cupola is visible in the background
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
November 19, 1863
on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.
BUFORD Families in America Book 2005
Addendum to Buford Book 2005
And my ALL-TIME favorite ~ TRIVIA
~~~Clouds by Torie~~~