Gettysburg Campaign Cavalry

Subject: Gettysburg Related Cavalry Actions

A few weeks ago, someone asked for resources for the cavalry fights prior to Gettysburg. If you still need them, here they are:


Beck, R. Mc. "General JEB Stuart at Brandy Station, June 9, 1863." JUSCA, 44, May-June 1935: pp. 5-10

Borke, Heros von, and Scheibert, Justus. THE GREAT CAVALRY BATTLE OF BRANDY STATION, 9 JUNE 1863. Winston Salem, NC: Palaemon, 1976. 143 p. E475.51B67.

Davis, George B. "The Cavalry Combat at Brandy Station, Va., on June 9, 1863." JUSCA, 25, (1914): pp. 190-198.

Downey, Fairfax. CLASH OF CAVALRY; THE BATTLE OF BRANDY STATION. Gaithersburg, MD: Butternut, 1985. 238 p. E475.51D745.1985. Reprint of 1959 ed.

Fleek, Sherman L. "Swirling Cavalry Fight." AMERICA'S CW 2, (Sep 1985): pp. 42-49

Ford, Charles W. "Charge of the First Maine Cavalry at Brandy Station." in WAR PAPERS (MOLLUS, ME, Vol. 2). Portland, ME: Thurston, 1900. pp. 268-289. E464W35v2.

Gallagher, Gary W. "Brandy Station: The Civil War's Blodiest Arena of Mounted Combat." BLUE & GRAY MAG 7 (Oct 1990): pp. 8-20, 22, 44-56.

Hall, Clark B. "The Battle of Brandy Station." CWTI 29 (June 1990): pp. 32-56

____. "Long and Desperate Encounter: Buford at Brandy Station." ARMOR 65 (1956): PP. 27-31.

Longacre, Edward G., ed. "A Race for Life at Brandy Station." (Henry C. Whelan, 6th PA Cav) CWTI 17 (Dec 1979): pp. 32-38.

Newhall, Frederick c. "The Battle of Beverly Ford." ANNALS OF THE WAR WRITTEN BY LEADING PARTICIPANTS NORTH AND SOUTH. Dayton, OH: Morningside, 1988. pp. 134-146. E464A6.1988.

Nielson, Jon M., ed. "The Prettiest Cavalry Fight you Ever Saw." (Account, 2nd NJ Cav) CWTI 17 (July 1978) pp. 4-12, 42.

Nye, Wilbur S. "Brandy Station, June 9: Stuart vs. Pleasanton." CWTI 2 (July 1963): p. 23

Tucker, Glenn. "Jeb Stuart Learned on Fleetwood Hill Federals Could Fight on Horseback Too." CWTI 2 (Dec 1960): pp. 5-6, 18-19.


Grunder, Dharles E. THE SECOND BATTLE OF WINCHESTER, JUNE 12-15, 1863. Lynchburg, VA: Howard, 1989. 108 p. E475.5G78.1989.

Longacre, Edward G. "Target: Winchester, Virginia." CWTI 15 (Jun 1976): pp. 22-31.


Bliss, George n. THE FIRST RHODE ISLAND CAVALRY AT MIDDLEBURG, VA, JUNE 17 AND 18, 1863. Providence, RI: RI Soldiers and Sailors Hist Soc, 1889. 56 p. E464R47ser4no4

______. "A Review of Aldie." MAINE BUGLE 1 (1894): pp. 123-132.

______. "A Rebuttlal of Captains Bliss' Review of Aldie." MAINE BUGLE 1 (1894) pp. 256-262. E511.4M352.1894.

Green, Charles O. AN INCIDENT IN THE BATTLE OF MIDDLEBURG, Va., JUNE 17, 1863. Providence, RI: RI Solders and Sailors Hist Soc, 1911. 38 p. E46R47ser7no3.

Myers, Jerry. "Shells and Saber Points." MIL HIST (Oct 1992): pp. 50-57. 88, 90, and 92. (On all three battles.)

Nye, Wilbur S. "Cavalry Actions June 17-21." CWTI 2 (Jul 1963): p. 24.

Starr, R.F.S. "The Battle of Middleburg." VA COUNTRY'S CW II (1984): pp. 18-19, 21 and 56.

I also have refererences for STUART'S RAID, CONFEDERATE RAID ON GETTYSBURG, HANOVER, and FAIRFIELD if anyone is interested.


Subject: Information on Brandy Station

E. Coddington's "The Gettysburg Campaign", which is probably the standard reference work on the subject, contains a full chapter devoted to Stuart's embarassment at Brandy Station. I don't remember anything about Aldie or Middleburg -however, there may be something on Hanover. By the way, Stuart's decision to head north via Aldie pretty well eliminated him from Lee's command until he rejoined the ANV on July 2nd. Although Jeb may not have known this (and may not have even considered it), going through Aldie interposed the AOP between him and the ANV with no quick way to rejoin Lee. Sorry, I don't have the ISBN number etc. but Coddington is a pretty standard and readily available volume.

Grant Troop

Subject: Cavalry Before Gettysburg

An excellent book IMHO is the Calavry at Gettysburg by Longacre. It describes both cavalry units prior to Gettysburg, make-up, leaders etc. Follows the battles from Brandy Station, Middleburg, Aldie etc and also follows the units during Lee's retreat. A very good source book on this subject. It is available in paperbook and you should have no trouble in locating the book. I do not have the ISBN number handy, if needed I can respond after I go home (my library is kept at home).

Pvt Marc

Subject: Cavalry Before Gettysburg

I forgot to mention there is an outstanding article on Buford in Gettysburg Magazine #11, p. 19-55. It covers all of the battles and skirmishes in which Buford was engaged both before, during and after Gettysburg. It also has extensive notes which are a great guide to get to the primary sources, which is what you should do if you are writing a book or article. Longacre's work is truly excellent and will give you a great overview, but you need to end up in the OR and primary manuscripts.

Bill Cameron

From: (Benedict R Maryniak)

Wittenberg's article in Gettsburg Magazine #11 is indeed a good piece of work and Longacre's book on cavalry in the Gettysburg campaign is the best-written, but Robert O'Neill's "The Cavalry Battles of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville - Small But Important Riots June 10-27 1863" is far and away the best treatment of the pre-Gburg cavalry activity. He even includes pictures & directions which help you find your way around the area today (though the pictures are quite muddy). It's available from HE Howard Inc, PO Box 4161, Lynchburg VA 24502.

Ben Maryniak

Buford's Positions

Not to sound stupid but I just do not know. Which direction was Buford coming from when he arrived on the battlefield? Did he travel north up taneytown road with the main body.I think he was in Harrisburg and ordered to go to gettysburg by General Reynolds. Thanks for your help.
From: (Alexander Cameron) Subject: Buford

Buford came in from Fairfield, PA. They had came through Boonborough, Cavetown, Monterey Springs and encamped near Fairfield on June 29. On June 30, they moved out toward Gettysburg having left Merritts Brigade in reserve at Mechanicstown (Thurmount MD). They detoured to the south toward Emmitsburg and then on into Gettysburg. [OR 27, I, p. 926]


From: (Alexander Cameron) Subject: Buford

Glad to help any way I can. Buford was under Pleasonton during the whole campaign. He was heavily involved in the cavalry actions at Brandy Station, Aldie, Upperville and middleburg where his orders were to seek out and engage the Confederate cavalry and later to flank the Confederate cavalry's left and to reconnoiter (I am really simplifying the hell out of a very involved campaign). On the 28th of June, he was under orders to support the right wing of the army (he was to cover the right wing's left flank) which was under Reynolds (Reynolds was commander of the Right Wing which had the 1st, 3rd, and 11th Corps). Buford probably consulted with Reynolds on the 30th. So.. he had the mission to support Reynolds. Now in modern military jargon, you could argue that Reynolds had operationl control of supporting forces but Pleasonton probably wouldn't want to hear that. Pleasonton had ordered him to hold Gettysburg "at all costs".

I think I said in the other post (at least I meant to) that Buford came in from Fairfield, detoured TOWARD Emmitsburg and then came into Gettysburg. I don't think he got all the way to Emmitsburg.

Buford had quite of bit of intelligence as to Confederate positions on the night of the 30th. At 10:40 P.m. he sent a messate to Pleasonton telling him that A.P. Hill's corps was massed back of Cashtown and that the picketts were in sight of each other. So he was aware of Hill.


From: "Douglas M Macomber"

I am still confused about the issue of where Bufords brigades were stationed July 1. Gamble was to the west of town in between McPherson's and Seminary Ridge, Devin was to the north of town. But where was Buford's third brigade under Wesley Merrit?

Moderator's Note: Meritt was not yet up on Day One.

From: (Bill and Glenna Christen )
Subject: Positions of Buford's units

I am involved with a gaming group that is playing the new game, "3 Days of Gettysburg." This is a regimental level simulation of the campaign.

I am looking for info on the positions of each of Devin's and Gamble's units from about 7:30am to 10:00am of the first day. What sources have this detail? Anyone on the list know?

Bill Christenhr

From: (Alexander Cameron)
Subject: Re: Positions of Buford's units

I can give you brigade positions with some regimental information (relative positions).

Col. William Gamble wrote that he was alerted by the officer commanding his pickets [8th Illinois] that the Confederates were approaching. This was at 8:00 a.m. on the 1st. Buford ordered Gamble to assemble. Gamble wrote, "My brigade - consisting of the Eighth New York, Eighth Illinois, three squadrons of the Third Indiana, and two squadrons of the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, about 1,600 strong, with Tidball'ls battery, Second U.S. Artillery - was placed in line of battle about 1 mile in front of the seminary, the right resting on the railroad track and the left near the Middletown or Fairfax [Fairfield] road, the Cashtown road being a little to the right of the center, at right angles with the line. Three squadrons, part dismounted, were ordered to the front, and deployed as skirmishers to support the squadron on picket, now being driven back by the enemy's artillery and skirmishers. Our battery of six 3-inch rifled guns was placed in battery, one section on each side of the Cashtown road, covering the approaches of the enemy, and the other section on the right of the left regiment, to cover that flank... In a short time we were, by overpowering numbers compelled to fall back about 200 yards to the next ridge, and there make a stand. [OR 27, 1, p. 934]

At nightfall on June 30, the pickets were located on Herr Ridge with videtts along the Chambersburg Pike [8th Ill.]. The brigade line was on McPherson's Ridge from the Fairfield Road to the Chambersburg Pike. The order from north to South was 8th New York, 8th Illinois, and the combined companies of the 3rd Indiana and 12th Illinois. [Eric J. Wittenberg, "John Buford and the Gettysburg Campaign" GETTYSBURG MAGAZINE vol 11, Morningside]

The pickets were strengthened on Herr Ridge by Buford to a force of several hundred . They came in contact between 8 and 9 a.m. The Herr Ridge line was held by Gamble until he was forced back to Belmont Schoolhouse Ridge about 200 yards to the east. From there they fell back again after about 30-45 minutes to McPherson's Ridge along the banks of Willoughby Run. Gamble had been engaged for about two hours by then. [Wittenberg, p. 41]

Col. Thomas Devin wrote, "On the morning of July 1, the pickets of the First Brigade, on the road to Cashtown, were driven in... and the Second Brigade was ordered to prepare for action, and form on the crest of the hill on the right of the First Brigade. I immediately formed as ordered, with my right resting on the road to Mummasburg, and deployed a squadron of the Sixth New York to the front and left as skirmishers, dismounted, and connecting with those of the First Brigade , at the same time connecting by skirmishers and vedettes with my pickets on the three roads on the right leading toward Carlisle, thus establishing a continuous line from the York road, on the extreme right, to the left of the First Brigade, on the Cashtown Road. ...I was ordered to retire gradually... [this happened at about 10:15, awc] This I effected in successive formations in line to the rear by regiment..." [OR 27, 1, p. 938-9]

Devin's regiments were positioned south to north in the following order, 3rd West Virginia, 6th New York, 9th New York, and the 17th Pennsylvania. [Wittenberg, p. 40]

As you know, Merritt's Brigade was in reserve near Mechanicstown [now Thurmont] Md.

Hope this helps


Subject: Re: Positions of Buford's units

First, Bill Christen, more on the Cav:

At Dawn, Gamble was encamped near the Seminary, just west of town, and Devin was encamped just north of the College along Mummasburg Rd. Both Devin and Gamble had strong patrols and pickets out, so that maybe a third of their strength was deployed in an arc from the Fairfield Rd. to York Pike. By 7:30, Gamble was in line astride the Chambersburg Pike, while Devin was almost certainly in movement from his campsite to the fields north of Gamble where he eventually fought. Devin's line was substantially in place by 8:00 a.m. or so, but not before. Gamble definitely had strong pickets out as far as Herr Ridge, and initial firing began there (or on Belmont Schoolhouse Ridge. Martin goes into great detail about finding the "first shot," a piece of trivia that doesn't interest me, I confess. I'm more interested in when Heth ran into significant opposition - that seems to be along Herr's or astride Willoughby Run.)

By 10:00 a.m., Both brigades were astride Chambersburg Pike, Gamble to the South of it, and Devin to the north. They were falling back under pressure, and the I Corps was reaching the scene.

From: (Eric Wittenberg)

Meritts' brigade took the brunt of the fighting at both Brandy Station and at Middleburg and Upperville. This is critical to understanding why they were not with Buford at Gettysburg. Also, these troopers were the Regular cavalry--those most reliable and most likely to stand and fight if necessary. At least at the beginning of the battle, the Army of the Potomac's trains were in the area of Emmittsburg because Meade intended to fall back to the Pipe Creek defensive position. Who better to guard the trains than the Regulars? Also, Devin's men were freshest--they had done the least fighting over the course of the campaign, so it made sense for them to be at the front.

Kilpatrick wasted men's lives. My post yesterday is indicative of that. I will gladly discuss that with anyone who is interested.

Finally, it occurs to me that there has never been a full treatment of the dismounted cavalry vs. infantry engagement on the area which is today called South Cavalry Field. Logancre, in his typical utter lack of tactical detail, spends only one page on an action which lasted for over an hour. It's a shame that he has no grasp on tactics, because the 1986 cavalry book is a ghost of what it could have been. In any event, I want to rectify the lack of detail regarding this forgotten fight, especially since Farnsworth's charge is finally getting the attention it deserves (see the current issues of Gettysburg and Blue & Gray magazines). To that end, I intend to write an article on South Cavalry Field, but am not finding a lot of good material. Can anyone help?

I have the obvious sources, such as the OR's, the Bachelder Papers, and the regimental histories of the 2nd U.S. and the 6th Pennsylvania. Any suggestions about primary sources will be greatly appreciated.


Eric J. Wittenberg

I'd like to throw my two cents worth in. With respect to John Buford's dispositions on July 1, please contact me, and I will gladly share information with you. I am working on a full length biography of John Buford, and have become intimately familiary with the dispositions of his men. By the way, I firmly believe that the best work done by Buford's people that day was in the afternoon phase along the stone wall that today lines Confederate Avenue. Read Col. Joseph Brown's description in "A Confederate Colonel at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg." I'd be pleased to discuss it more. I also am very familiar with Brandy Station, Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, and will gladly discuss any of these aspects with anyone.

With respect to Kilpatrick, the worst choice he made with respect to Farnsworth was in ordering a mounted, as opposed to dismounted, charge. Likewise, ordering Merritt's Regulars to attack dismounted on the South Cavalry Field, which is ideal ground for mounted operations, was a foolish move. Had the roles been reversed, and had a properly supported mounted attack on the South Cavalry Field been executed, the Regulars might have rolled up the flank of the Confederates.

I'm really not a Kilpatrick fan, but that's another story for another day.

Eric J. Wittenberg

Buford's Promotion and Death


>The death of Buford in December brought a great loss to the Army of the >Potomac. His promotion to Major General was backdated to July 1, 1863. >(Was Congress too busy to approve a field promotion???) I have two >questions concerning this: > > a) Why was this promotion never given until his death? > b) What officer nominated Buford for the promotion..Hancock? > >Any help on this would be appreciated as I have no idea to the answer of >these two questions.

Longacre, in his new biography of the general, claims that Stanton put thru the appt at the behest of Lincoln, as a deathbed promotion.

Interesting for speculation is the fact that first Rosecrans, then Sherman, both requested that Buford be transfered west to serve as Chief of Cavalry for the Army of Tennessee. Had he lived, it is possible that Sherman's Cavalry would have been led by Buford against the likes of Wheeler and Forrest.

Dave Powell

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
The promotion was instigated by a political patron of Buford's. This man, named Clement Barclay, of Philadelphia, went to visit Buford at his death bed, in George Stoneman's rented home in Washington. By this time, it was clear that the typhoid fever would be fatal. Barclay went to the White House, and called upon Lincoln. Based on that visit, Lincoln sent a note to Stanton that read, "Gen. Buford will not survive the day. It suggests itself that he be promoted to major general." Stanton obeyed the request and issued orders that the promotion be given immediately. The paperwork was backdated to July 1 in honor of Jno.'s service at G-burg. The papers were brought to Buford for signature about 2 hours before his death. His loyal aide, Myles Keogh told Buford of the promotion, and Buford said, "Too I wish I could live." Keogh helped Buford sign his commission. Then Buford lapsed into delirium. He died about two hours later.

I have a theory as to the slowness of the promotion. First, Buford was a Southerner by birth, being from Kentucky. In Stanton's book, this made his loyalty suspect. Second, he was John Pope's hand-picked, favorite cavalryman, and the War Department, and especially Stanton, were still reeling from the Pope debacle. Anyone closely associated with Pope was also very suspect (how many of Pope's officers achieved high command in the A of P? not many....). I believe that the combination of these two factors is what kept Buford from being promoted until he was in a position where no harm or damage could result from his promotion. Once that happened, the promotion came through in a matter of an hour or two. Funny, eh?

I hope that answers the question.

Best regards.

Eric Wittenberg


In response to the question of who recommended Buford for promotion just before his death. On page 61 of "The Devel's To Pay " by Michael Phipps & Jphn S. Peterson it is stated that " General Stoneman initiated the proposal that Buford be promoted to Major General, ..." There are no notes in this small volume to indicate the source of this information. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Buford, it's packed with interesting information.

Paul Domer

Buford's Withdrawal

From: lawrence (Dennis Lawrence)

Since Eric Wittenberg is now in the group. (He wrote the Buford article in GB Mag 11. ) I might address a question to him and everyone else about Buford's retirement on Day 2.

Longacre is pretty hard on Buford for this move. He says that Buford's men weren't in too bad a shape considering the fight the day before and had no business retiring. He singles out Buford rather pointedly.

Forgive the paraphrase, the book is in the library again.

1) Wouldn't the person to blame be Pleasonton, not Buford? 2) Was Buford's command in need of refitting or not?

And while I am at it my favorite unanswerable question: Did Lane form that Hollow Square or not, Eric?


From Eric Wittenberg:

I was asked whether Buford's men needed to be refitted on July 2, and whether Longacre is fair in taking him to task for leaving the field in the middle of large battle. I was also asked to address the question of whether the Confederates formed square on July 1.

With respect to Buford leaving the field, it must initially be stated that I am no fan of Ed Longacre's. I find his work sloppy and devoid of thoroughness, particularly in the area of primary source research. I will be glad to elaborate on this further if anyone wants to e-mail me privately.

Having spent more than four years studying John Buford's life in preparation for writing this biography I'm working on, I feel that I have insight into him that few others possess. It is well known that John Buford was considered to be the A of P's best cavalryman. No less than John Gibbon has written, "JOhn Buford was the best cavalryman I ever saw." One thing that has become clear to me is that this man was a fighter. He was never, ever one to shy away from a fight, and Longacre's insinuation that he left the field in a fit of cowardice offends me deeply. Yes, it is true that Buford's men had been constantly campaigning since the beginning of SToneman's RAid, and it is also true that his men had bourne the brunt of the fighting at both Brandy Station and Upperville, and that they had suffered as a result. Nevertheless, they had been rearmed during the advance north, and were relatively fresh, even though they had suffered on July 1. These men were ready, willing, and able to continue fighting. The afternoon phase of GAmble's fight on July 1 is ample evidence of this.

The truth is that Buford received a peremptory order to leave. On the morning of July 2, Pleasonton sent the decisive order to Buford. It is quoted verbatim in one of the footnotes to my article in Gettysburg Magazine, so I won't bore you with the full text. However, the beginning of the order is very enlightening. It begins, "THe major general commanding directs me to order you...." If that's not a peremptory order, I don't know what is.

Remember, the decision to stand and fight at G-burg was not made until the night of July 2. UNtil that time, Meade fully intended to fall back to the Pipe Creek defensive line near Westminster, Maryland. The majority of the A of P's wagon trains were there, awaiting the retreat of the army. Also, one of Buford's Brigades, Merritt's Reserve Brigade, was already at Emmittsburg, awaiting the fall back. If you intend to fall back, and part of your best division is already there, doesn't it make sense to order your best division commander to fall back to take up the task of guarding the trains? Don't you want a man that you know that you can trust to do such a vital job? This is the true reason why Buford was ordered to leave the field. It had nothing to do with cowardice, as Longacre implies. Also, Gregg was already in the immediate area of the battle, and ample cavalry coverage for the flank was available, had Pleasonton given the order.

It's worth noting that Longacre has backed off of this position in his rather lame biography of Buford. I think it's because I took him to task in my article.

Finally, with respect to the Confederates forming square, this is an interesting debate. There is no doubt that the 52nd North Carolina of, I believe, Perrin's Brigade, formed square during the afternoon phase of July 1 in response to a feint of a mounted charge by the 8th Illinois Cavalry, under command of Major Beveridge, from a position along the Fairfield Road near the current township building. The rest is not so clear. Maj. E.P. Halstead of Doubleday's staff says unambiguously that Lane's men indeed formed square late in the afternoon in response to the threat of a mounted charge by Gamble's entire brigade. This is the only primary source I have found which says this. All OR's are silent, as are accounts by some of the cavalrymen, including Maj. Beveridge, who ought to know. I also have an article from an 1880's issue of Confed. Vet. which states unambiguously that Lane did not form square. It is therefore an open question. I tend to agree with Gary Kross that it did happen, since it is the most logical explanation of why Lane stopped his advance. However, I disagree with him as to where it happened.

FYI, David Martin does not believe it occurred. AT his request, I reviewed a draft of an article for him on the subject, and he firmly believes that it did not. This, therefore, is one of my favority Gettysburg controversies.


From: (Eric Wittenberg)

Sorry--I forgot to mention something the earlier diatribe. My good friend Mike Phipps, licensed battlefield guide at G-burg, and a fellow Buford biographer, also believes that Lane's men formed square, largely based upon the combination of the Halstead MOLLUS paper, and on the analysis that it is the most likely explanation of why Lane stopped. Mike and I agree on where it likely took place, which is somewhere near the end of the stone wall used by Gamble's men during the afternoon phase of the July 1 fighting. That stone wall begins at the intersection of the Fairfield Road and the modern COnfederate Avenue, at the seminary, and continuing for a quarter of a mile or so.

Eric Wittenberg

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Buford, Sickles and Pleasonton on July 2

I found the following gems in OR Vol. 27, Part 3, p. 491 this morning:

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac
July 2, 1863
12:55 p.m.

Commanding Officer Cavalry Corps:

My note, written five minutes since, is a little confused, I find. The general expected, when Buford's force was sent to Westminster, that a force should be sent to replace it, picketing and patrolling the Emmitsburg road. He understood that all your force was up.

Very respectfully, &c.
Daniel Butterfield, Maj.-Gen,, Chief of Staff

This dispatch was immediately followed by one from Pleasonton:

Headquarters, CAvalry Corps
July 2, 1863-1:45

Brigadier-General Gregg,
Commanding Second Cavalry Division:


You will detail a regiment from your command to picket on the left of our line, lately occupied by General Buford, who has been withdrawn. You will then move your command to the north of Gettysburg, toward the Heidlersburg Road, to ascertain if the enemy is in that position in force.

You will make these dispositions as soon as practicable, and report the same.

Very respectfully,

Major-General, Commanding
Very interesting stuff, this. In my opinion, this exonerates Buford for the fact that the Union left was unguarded. It seems, in my opinion, that the blame must fall on Pleasonton's shoulders. He probably should have ordered Gregg to send more than one regiment, or he could have brought Kilpatrick into that position. Kilpatrick had been largely inactive since Hunterstown on July 1, and was readily available.

This only further reinforces my belief that Longacre is a sloppy historian. If I found this stuff while looking for something else, certainly some concerted effort could have turned it up and made for accurate history.

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg (Dennis Lawrence) says:
Buford's departure had nothing to do with any desire by Meade to move South. Rightly or wrongly, Buford was sent off to refit, not to be the southern eyes of the army.

Dennis, have you read the OR? Have you read the order from Pleasonton to Buford? It says:

"The Major General commanding directs me to order you to fall back to Taneytown and then to Middleburg, in case the enemy should advance in force upon you and press you hard. The cavalry will dispute every inch of the ground, and fall back slowly to the place designated, and send in all information they can gather."
OR 27, Part 3, p. 470.

Sorry. I have to vigorously disagree.


From: "John A. Leo"

I think I also added that I knew of no source of a blow-by-blow account of Meade's actions on the 30th and 1st. Where is the smoking gun? While I agree with your/our conclusions, I can't point to six sources all confirming one another that what we think was most likely a contingency plan, actually was one and nothing more. And there just has to be more to the story (and in Meade's mind ) than simply giving Pleasanton the peremptory (that can't be spelled right) command to move Buford out.

...AND I hope that this will not be closure for this line of argument any time soon!

GRINingly yours,
John Leo

Subject: Re: Buford was tired--retry

Perhaps someone was sending me a warning by my last post not coming through, but I'll try again (thanks for the notice, Vic.)


I believe you have fallen victim to the inaccuracies of Longacre's book when you wrote:

The way I understand the move is that Meade was involved only after the fact.

The order Eric Wittenberg just re-posted shows that Meade was involved in sending Buford from the field.

Buford requested to go because he believed he needed to be refitted

If someone can provide me with a reference for Buford's request above, I would be most grateful. I have read a great deal about this, and I do not remember seeing this anywhere but in Longacre's pitifully researched book.

I agree with those who say that Buford was sent south as part of a contingency plan for withdrawal, but this is part of the reason why I think Meade would have retreated, because you do not send your best men back unless you think you might have to follow that course. I do not think the cavalry had been as badly used as they had been on Stoneman's raid, and I do not believe they would have asked out of the battle. The mere fact of a contingency plan for withdrawal shows that Meade would not have stood firm at all costs.

Best regards to all.
William Howard

From: javal
Subject: Meade and Buford

Hi Folks:
In the "for what it's worth" dept. regarding the reason for Buford's withdrawal - Doubleday states in "Chancellorsville and Gettysburg":

"As soon as Sickle's took position, General Buford's division of cavalry was sent to the rear at Westminster, to guard the trains there." (P.164)

Seems if he asked to be relieved Doubleday would have mentioned it.
Anyway, hope it helps...
Joe Avalon

Buford and Reynolds Meet

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: cupola


While I tend to accept the Jerome theory about the cupola meeting between Reynolds and Buford, I am aware of at least one other account of the meeting taking place in the town, near the Blue Eagle Hotel, with the two officers then riding out to the Seminary together. This is plausible, since Buford was so anxious to discuss the situation with Reynolds. MY friend Gary Kross told me about this--he says it is in a letter written by one of Buford's staff officers, and is in private hands. Never seen it myself. Everything I know about it is hearsay.

Also, Sgt. Veil says that the meeting did not take place in the cupola. My problem with his account is that it is so lacking in details. It is very broad; it may have to do with the shock of Reynolds's death.

It's too bad that Capt. Stephen Weld, who wrote such a great diary, did not address this issue. I think that it would have put it to rest for good.

My only problem with the Jerome account is that, if one reads Jerome's correspondence to Bachelder, it is clear that Jerome had an agenda with respect to Buford, and I have often wondered if he embellished the story to make his hero, John Buford, look better in the historical context. That said, I think that the level of detail, and the overall reliability of Jerome's account indicate that he probably told the truth in his accounts, although he may have embellished things a bit.

And that, for what it's worth, is my two cents worth.

Eric Wittenberg

From: (Alexander Cameron)
Subject: Re: cupola

Hi Eric,
Well of course this is one of those issues that we'll never know for sure. Coddington has a long note on page 682 and he discusses the Veil account. Jerome was writing Hancock because he felt Buford was not getting his due. However, because this letter was written right after the war, Jerome would have had to just flat make this up if it wasn't accurate. In my studies of him, I don't see anything that would leave me to believe that he would lie about it. Coddington thought that Buford would not have been at the Seminary at this time but it is not that far for a horseman and it is the best place on that field to see what was going on. It is a lot more plausible than the Blue Eagle Hotel. As to the conflicting stories between Veil and Jerome, I do not have a copy of the Veil letter. I am under the impression that he did not specifically say that the meeting did not take place at the Seminary, he just stated that it took place at McPherson Ridge. You may have better information. I always assumed that Veil may have not know that Reynolds stopped there and when he saw them together on McPherson Ridge he assumed that is where they met. I would want to make any bets as to the exact words that Buford used but I think the meeting took place at the Seminary. If I was writing about it, I'd do the same thing Coddington did - have a big long note. I'd vote on the side of Jerome however.

BTW, would you please send me a copy of the Jerome manuscript. I'll send you my address. I would really like a copy of it. Thanks for offering. I'll get the other stuff together and send it to you. I'm going to wait until I get my Brown book because I am missing some of it.


From: (Nikki)
Subject: Re: cupola

It is interesting to note that in "The Devil's To Pay" by Mike Phipps and John Peterson and "For God's Sake, Forward" by Mike Riley, the authors have chosen the seminary as the meeting place. Phipps and Peterson note that while there are three different stories, the one most detailed and usually given the most credence is the Jerome story. In the Buford book, among unpublished sources is listed "Personal Recollections of General Buford"; Doctor G.K. Johnson. Has anyone seen this? I am not a student or great fan of Buford so did wonder what this source actually was.

Also, in reference to Eric's remark on Jerome's version of the story and his "hidden agenda", if we were to use that as a tool for the belief of many accounts, we would have a difficult time deciding who to believe about many things. In fact, in every single person's account of anything, there is always a hidden agenda - whether conscious or not. If we believe the OR or choose to go beyond to something written later or by someone else, we are either accepting the participant's account or we are accepting the refuter's account and in so doing are accepting one or the other's hidden agenda. I think that may partially be the reason it is so easy to be a revisionist where history is concerned. No offense intended to you, Eric, and I am not saying I think you are wrong about anything -- just something to think about.


From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Re: cupola


As you may know, I am working on a Buford biography. I started this line up, because I want the input of others. Don't worry--no offense was taken, and I appreciate the insight.

With respect to the G.K. Johnson piece, it was a paper prepared and read in the 1890's at the dedication of the Buford monument on McPherson's Ridge. A group called The Buford Memorial Association was formed, and various contributions were solicited. Dr. Johnson was the brigade surgeon for the cavalry brigade which Buford commanded during the Second Manassas Campaign (which, minus the 1st Michigan, became Farnsworth's Brigade at G-burg). Johnson's paper specifically addresses Buford's role in the Second Manassas Campaign. It may be found in a very rare volume published privately by the Association called "Proceedings of the Buford Memorial Association". There's some great stuff in it, if you can find a copy. The copy we have comes from the New York Public Library. There may or may not be a copy of it in Carlisle. I don't know. The actual dedication speech was given by Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson, and was also published in the Journal of the US Cavalry Association in September, 1895. This, I know for a fact, Carlisle has a copy of, since I got my copy there. Hope this helps.

Best regards.

Eric Wittenberg

From: (Alexander Cameron)
Subject: "There's the Devil To Pay"

Nikki and Eric,
Do you now where "There's the Devil To Pay" came from. Sauers attributes it to Jerome in a roundabout way. It is nowhere in the Jerome to Hancock letter. Eric, is it in the Jerome manuscript?


From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Re: "There's the Devil To Pay"


The answer is yes, it is. I have heard several different variations of it, including "The devil's to pay". However, it does come from Jerome's account, which you will shortly have a copy of.

Best regards.


From: (Thad Humphries)
Subject: Re: "There's the Devil To Pay"

In her book on Chamberlain, In the Hands of Providence, Alice Rains Trulock mention it as an old shipbuilding term, "There's the devil to pay and no pitch hot." (p.16) Her citation appears to page 8 of Elias Spears' "Regiment" -- but a quick scan of other footnotes doesn't tell me what that is short for. Where was Buford from and could that be the same origin for the quote?

Thad Humphries

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Re: "There's the Devil To Pay"


John Buford was born in Versailles, Kentucky, part way between Lexington and Frankfort. AT the age of ten or so, his family moved to Rock Island, Illinois, where he spent the balance of his childhood. His appointment to West Point was from Illinois.

I have no idea where this expression came from. It is commonly attributed to Buford.

Eric Wittenberg

From: (Alexander Cameron)
Subject: Re: No pitch hot

Thanks much for the interesting information on the "devil to pay" line. As you know, we've been discussing whether or not Buford really said this or Lieut. Jerome just made it up. I believe that the meeting took place at the Seminary but of course, I wasn't there. However, your explanation of the term gives me some concern. Jerome had spent a bunch of time signaling aboard ships. It might be a term he picked up there and not one Buford really used. Interesting stuff!


Being an old Maine kid I THINK I can shed some light on "The Devil's To Pay," or "There's the devil to pay".
In 19th cent. shipbuilding (of which Maine was considered the "Capital of the World") the spaces between the wooden "slats" of the vessel were caulked from the outside and then sealed from the inside with hot pitch. The process of sealing with pitch was called "paying".
The term "There's the devil to pay and no pitch hot" meant that there was a lot of "paying" or sealing to do but no material to do it with. If the ship was in the water, you can imagine the urgency.
If Buford - a man Mainers would have called a "Flat-lander" or a person not from the coast - understood the ship-building aspect of the phrase, then I suppose he meant that he had a lot of work to do and not enough men to do it with. Either that or he meant that his line was "leaking" and he had no way to seal it.
This presumes that Buford knew the term's original meaning and, having no psychic ability that I know of, I have no idea what he was thinking. If he did know, it seems a very apt description of his situation.

Tom Desjardin

Buford's Position- July 2

From: (Scott Hartwig)
Subject: Buford on 7/2

John Bachelder's "Hour by Hour" maps of the battle show Buford's cavalry in the Valley of Death between the Wheatfield and Plum Run on the 4:30am and 9am maps. Candy's Brigade of Geary's Division is in place resting its left on the Wheatfield Road on the northern slope of LRT (where the 5th Maine's left flank marker now rests). The rest of Geary's Division reaches toward the north. The 9am map shows the 3rd Corps with Birney massed between the VOD and the Trostle House (with Buford still in VOD). The closest he shows Birney to LRT at 9am is near the George Weikert House. There are no maps after 9am until 4pm.

Bachelder's maps are by no means infallible, but most of his errors are slight in terms of positioning (a hundred yards or so off). I don't know that he ever misplaced a whole division.

Tom Desjardin

From: "John A. Leo"
Well folks, the posts regarding Buford's cavalry location from the evening of July first through the morning of the second finally got to me, and I did something unthinkable and unpardonable to any discussion group but ours: I actually made reservations at the GNMP library to dig out the "truth" for myself. A 180 mile drive in the rain is no obstacle when we all need to know which hundred yard tract of land someone camped in overnight!

But before getting to what I uncovered, let me inform you briefly of my biases.

First, the more I learn about Buford, the more I like and admire him - especially given the frustrating bureaucracy and frequent mediocrity with which he had to work, day in and day out. I've come to expect excellence in his decision making ability and in his execution of his plans and orders. I expect him "to make no mistake on Lee's front".

Second, I've done a lot of reading in my primary field, computer based Information Systems. This, coupled with my research and graduate studies generally, has made me very suspicious about commonly accepted FACTS. Believe me, most of our computer systems are based on unfounded opinions and midnight guesses...that's why they all run so welllllllllll and are so easy to useeee.

Now to the FACT(?) as generally presented: Buford and his 2,700 cavalrymen spent the night of July 1, 1863 in the protected Plum Run Valley between Houcks ridge, Devils Den, Little Round Top, and the Wheatfield road after their splendid performance that morning and afternoon.

This FACT has never made sense to me. What became known the next day as "The Valley of Death" just never seemed to me to be the intelligent place to locate a cavalry division, especially

(1) given that the right flank of the Confederate army was 2 miles away west and SW of Gettysburg in and beyond McMillans woods;

(2) all the men and horses placed together in a congested, trap-like area such as the proposed location would make any defensive or offensive actions very awkward, if not downright difficult.

(3) why give up one of the cavalry's main advantages, flexibility and maneuverability just to sit in a swamp (it had been raining for days and I'm certain the ground was quite soggy); and

(4) much better ground for cavalry offensive/defensive deployment was only 3/4 of a mile away along a relatively flat plain from the Peach Orchard (3/4 mile in advance of the III corps) to about a mile down Warfield ridge to South Cavalry Field.

I always believed that deployment on this better ground would protect the left flank of the AOP (and cover the Round Tops). Pickets and vedettes another mile or two beyond the Emmitsburg road, would provide plenty of warning to Mead that a possible flanking movement or other dangerous Confederate activity might be under way. [ This role was of course later undertaken by the 1st USSS and the 3rd Maine about 11am by a cautious Sickles (see, I can too say something nice about the man) after Pleasanton removed Buford to guard the trains.]

A year ago, I was examining the Cope maps at the GNMP library that (as I understand it) were carefully derived from the Bachelder maps. I saw that one of the maps placed Buford's cavalry in the swampy Plum Run valley. I somehow managed to collar the renowned Scott Hartwig and asked him for clarification. He seemed as puzzled as I was (surely only a kind, generous, self-effacing gesture for a civilian like myself). Then he pointed to the Peach Orchard - South Cavalry Field and Wheatfield area and said that he'd always believed that Buford had been posted out there, and not at the foot of LRT as plainly indicated by the blue lines on the map before us.

Scott's answer satisfied my first bias, so I was sure that Buford, the pretty Superb himself, would naturally adopt this deployment so that he could agree with me 130 years later. There was no need for further investigation. On my research trip Wednesday, Tom Desjardin easily burst my bubble when he reminded me that (1) watering the horses after that day's action was very important and (2) that the Plum Run valley was an excellent spot for this after the rains of the previous week. Now I had two excellent answers - at least one more than I needed or wanted to have.

Anyway, now for the good part. From the regimental files at GNMP library:

The two brigades that Buford had with him at this time were led by Gamble and Devin. Their regiments were:
8th Illinois 6th NY
12th Illinois 9th NY
3rd Indiana 17th PA
8th NY 3rd West Virginia.

I found brief descriptions of the battle and their role in it from men of the Eighth Illinois, 12th Illinois, and the third Indiana. I was only allowed two hours in the Library, so there might still be additional documents and first person recollections that I missed. Interestingly, the library had no regimental histories for these eight regiments, just a few pages in the files for these three of eight.

The cavalryman from the 8th Illinois remembered: "The morning of July 2nd broke upon the two armies lying as quiet as though they were friends. Much of our infantry had arrived during the night, a council of war had been held [now how did he know that?] and all were preparing for a desperate struggle. The cavalry were in line between the enemy and Round Top. General Sickles' division was advanced across the Emmitsburg pike, and all the movements betokened a renewal of the engagement, when it was rumored, that our supplies were in danger of being disturbed, and General Buford's division was ordered to protect the train. We left the field of Gettysburg about one O'clock p.m"....IN LINE he said, not massed in Plum Run Valley. Of course the word BETWEEN only helps us a little.

The cavalryman from the 12th Illinois wrote: "Until about 11:00 o'clock of the second day, Buford's Cavalry patrolled the field between Seminary Ridge on the west and Cemetery ridge on the east." This cavalryman is clear in his mind that he wasn't sitting in swampy Plum Run Valley.

Colonel George Henry Chapman of the third Indiana Cavalry kept a diary. The entry for July 2, 1863 begins: "Bivouacked last night near the battlefield on the left. Slim fare and slight cover." The words "slight cover" do not come to my mind when I attempt to describe the Plum Run valley - "cradle" maybe, but certainly not "slim cover". And NEAR the battlefield, (but not on) suggests the areas south of the first day's fighting, maybe all the way to Herr's ridge, but certainly not to LRT where no fighting had yet occurred or which would later be ON the battlefield if reference is to the entire 3 day battle instead of the 1st day alone.

A fourth fellow who was there, JNO. Buford, six weeks later filed this report which eventually made its way into the OR (Chapter XXXIX, page 927): "My division bivouacked that night on the left of our position, with pickets extending almost to Fairfield."..."July 2, the division became engaged with the enemy sharpshooters...". McMillan Woods SW of town where Anderson's division of Hill's corps was posted is about 2 miles from Houck's ridge. How did the Confederate sharpshooters get to Buford if the 3rd corps pickets and skirmishers were between Buford and the Confederates. The second quote only makes sense if Buford was out in front of the 3rd corps (the infantry left flank of the AOP), not the other way around.

Folks, so far, it appears to me that the majority of Buford's men were out on the relatively flat plain from the Peach Orchard to the South Cavalry Field area and probably out to the Eisenhower farm with patrols miles farther beyond that. Of course we can still discuss whether 5% or 50% of Buford's men were in the Plum Run valley, but I don't think that we can make any plausible case for most of them being there, most of the time.

Now I'll be the first to admit that this initial research cut leaves many questions unanswered, and I genuinely welcome anyone who can point me towards materials that might shed additional light on this matter. WHAT DO YOU THINK, and what facts can you contribute to clarify this problem.

It seems to me that the consequences of the existence of possibly misleading maps is a very serious one. I'm fully aware of the Fog of War, but I believe deep down that we can develop strategies and tools for minimizing this type of error, or at least working with maps that incorporate the Fog of War as a real, estimateable phenomena. What do you think?

Subject: Buford slept where?

John Leo's excellent post was way too long to copy, but it did send me delving into the Bachelder papers.

Col. Chapman - commanding 3rd IN Cav - reports in his letter dated March 30, 1864, that the brigade "fell back across the fields to the 'heights' and some time after dark moved into a position in the woods near Round Top and bivouacked." (Vol. I, p-131.)

This suggests to me that they were more likely in the woods east of Emmitsburg Road but still west of BRT - More in keeping with John's second post. The Plum Run valley is distinctive, and would be remembered.

However, something else to keep in mind - The Plum Run Valley is fairly small - and cavalry needs a lot of bivouac room. I doubt if both brigades could adequately picket their horses there, without extreme congestion. Water is certainly a consideration, but so is forage, and horses need space to eat.

Dave Powell

From: "John A. Leo"
Subject: Re: Buford's bivouac and patrols July 1-2

Dave Powell wrote:

Col. Chapman - commanding 3rd IN Cav - reports in his letter dated March 30, 1864, that the brigade "fell back across the fields to the 'heights' and some time after dark moved into a position in the woods near Round Top and bivouacked." (Vol. I, p-131.)

This suggests to me that they were more likely in the woods east of Emmitsburg Road but still west of BRT - More in keeping with John's second post. The Plum Run valley is distinctive, and would be remembered.

However, something else to keep in mind - The Plum Run Valley is fairly small - - and cavalry needs a lot of bivouac room. I doubt if both brigades could adequately picket their horses there, without extreme congestion. Water is certainly a consideration, but so is forage, and horses need space to eat.

Thanks Dave for extending my report by 25%. Now we just need 4 good references that unequivocally prove that we're wrong and we'll be all set. Keep those cards and letters coming in folks.

My Trailhead Graphics, Inc. map shows a small wooded hill to the WSW of BRT in what I imagine would be an excellent position for covering the AOP left flank - the wide open, comparatively flat space along the Emmitsburg Road for observing any Confederate activity while being behind Warfield Ridge offered some protection from the Confederates seeing them - except of course for Capt. Johnson who must have walked through their camp unseen and unmolested on his way to LRT and back.

From: (Anita Jackson-Wieck)
Subject: Re: Buford's bivouac and patrols July 1-2
From: "John A. Leo"
Subject: CAPT. JOHNSON v BUFORD, july 2, 5/6 am

If Buford's cavalrymen were only half as active and watchful as I presume they were, how does this influence the CAPT. JOHNSON recon mission about 5/6 am on the 2nd? I don't know where he went, but I think I know of one hill he wasn't on...or have I missed something as large as an elephant???

I just love this. Here I've puzzled for years about how Johnston, Clarke, et al. could have missed Geary and his men and failed to see and hear Birney and just when you all had figured it out for me you go and do this.
Logically, Johnston would have led Longstreet by the same route he took to get to LRT. If you buy this, then at least to the point where the countermarch took place they were retracing his route, and that route would lead across the Emmitsburg road north of the Plum Run Valley. So far, no problem with Buford's men, assuming they were, in fact WSW of BRT. However, Geary's two divisions had to camp somewhere, and I can't accept that, even if his troops had moved out (with attendant bugles and other noisemakers) just before Johnston and Clarke arrived, the two scouts would have failed to note the evidence of two divisions.
After LRT Johnston and Clarke go south, through or around Buford's men, who may or may not be moving south to the trains and across their path at this moment, again with attendant noise. (Of course, Ewell never seemed to hear Longstreet's guns on the 2nd so maybe there were any number of atmospheric anomalies that would allow the battle to be heard in Pittsburgh but not half a mile away).
The simpler solution is that Buford DID camp in Plum Run Valley and that Johnston and Clarke crossed the Emmitsburg Road SOUTH of them. But that seems contravened by John's evidence.
I'm more confused than ever.

David Wieck

From: Susan and Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Buford and July 2

I have been quietly watching this line unfold, trying to digest the thread. It actually was a bit embarrassing--after more than four years of researching the most minute details of this man's life available, I completely neglected the issue of his role on July 2. Once I got over being embarrassed, I decided to review my stockpile of Buford material and see what I've got on it, and there's plenty of material to review (about three large boxes of stuff, that is...)

Anyway, my research supports John Leo's findings. I think that while some portion of Buford's command, perhaps a regiment or two, was in the Valley of Death, I firmly believe that most of it was in the area that is today known as South Cavalry Field, and further, that a portion of it lapped over into the area where Farnsworth's Charge occurred. Some of these men were probably over in the area south of Pitzer's Woods, perhaps near the modern Texas and Alabama monuments along Confederate Avenue. Therefore, it is, in my opinion, very likely that Capt. Johnson's recon simply didn't run into Buford's command because it was over a different part of the field. In other words, there's a good reason why Johnson missed Buford's command; most of it was on a different part of the field.

Therefore, kudos to John Leo for some fine work. In fact, I sent John a private e-mail and asked if he would mind sharing some of his stuff with me. John graciously agreed to, and I am going to work on rectifying my oversight with this stuff when I visit G-burg, and USAMHI in Carlisle next month. If I come up with anything good, or anything which repudiates what John found, I will gladly pass it along. Until then, though, I am going to assume that John is correct. Even after living with John Buford as a major portion of my life over these four years, I still find stuff about him which fascinates me all over again, and this is one of those occasions.

Thank you, John.

Eric Wittenberg

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Devin's men

Someone asked for some guidance with respect to Devin's command on the early morning hours of July 2. I believe it was Barry (sorry--I had to change computers and could not transfer the message).

I tend to take everything that Longacre says with a major grain of salt, since I have found so many errors in his work. However, this is one time that he is correct. You asked about the reliability of his sources. The two regimental histories he cites--Cheney's regimental of the 9th New York and Hall's regimental of the 6th New York--are both quite good (in fact, copies of them are on the desk in front of me as I type this). I would consider them to be very reliable.

These men went out on a recon very early on the morning of July 2, and encountered Confederate pickets in Pitzer's Woods. They began skirmishing there, and were joined by contingents of Berdan's sharpshooters. These men remained in place, under fire, until relieved by the move forward of the III Corps infantry after Sickles made his move. I don't believe that these men camped in this area. Rather, it's clear that they were there on a recon mission ordered by either Devin, or more likely by Buford himself.

The simple fact is that Buford (and the rest of the AofP's high command) knew darned well that the Confederates were on Seminary Ridge in force. This meant that they were also on the western side of the Emmitsburg Road in great force. The only real question was, where was their flank? I firmly believe that these two recons were intended to cross the Road, feel for the Confederate flank, and report back to Buford. They got pinned down, and may never have fulfilled that mission. But, they did succeed in finding the flank, and took a few casualties to show for it.

I hope that this helps.

Eric Wittenberg

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Devin's men (part 2)

Susan & Eric Wittenberg says:

Oops, I forgot to mention...the recon of the 9th New York, led by Capt. Benjamin Coffin, actually captured a black man who was reported to have been a servant of one of Longstreet's staff officers. The black man reported this fact to the New Yorkers. Therefore, at least some portion of Buford's command had actual knowledge of the presence of Longstreet's Corps on the field as early as 5 a.m on the morning of July 2. If this information had been used properly, it could have made a major difference in preparations for the coming Confederate attack, much like Buford's recon at Second Manassas.

However, there was a serious breakdown in the command structure of the AofP's Cavalry Corps that day, as evidenced by the fiasco of ordering Buford's Division away from the field without insuring that Gregg or Kilpatrick were in place. One of two things happened: (a) either Coffin's men got pinned down and never reported, or (b) the intelligence got lost in the shuffle and never got forwarded. Regardless, it's another one of those fascinating what-if's.

Hope this also helps.

Eric Wittenberg

Subject: Re: Buford's bivouac and patrols July 1-2

In a message dated 96-03-11 14:38:17 EST, John Leo wrote:

My Trailhead Graphics, Inc. map shows a small wooded hill to the WSW of BRT in what I imagine would be an excellent position for covering the AOP left flank - the wide open, comparatively flat space along the Emmitsburg Road for observing any Confederate activity while being behind Warfield Ridge offered some protection from the Confederates seeing them - except of course for Capt. Johnson who must have walked through their camp unseen and unmolested on his way to LRT and back.

When the Johnson Recon stuff was extant a couple of months back, this was the aspect of the trip that bugged me the most - How did Johnson miss an entire Division of Cavalry? If they were camped in Plum Run Valley, it would have been absolutely impossible to have missed them - there is no room to tuck that many men out of the way, and his route (Johnson's) claimed to go almost to the top on the west side of LRT.

On the other hand, if Buford were to the south of Devil's Den and west of BRT, were I think it more likely, Johnson still would have had to move right thru the center of this encampment too, because he claimed to have left LRT by passing south of Devil's Den, and then due west to Emmitsburg Road.

Either way, it's a conundrum.

Dave Powell

Susan and Eric Wittenberg wrote:

Could you please clear up something for me.
Just when did Pleasenton order Buford to guard line of communications in Md.?? I assume it was sometime on 2 July because Buford's division was somewhat preoccupied on 1 July.


The order was issued around 11 a.m. on July 2. Buford and his command actually mounted up and left the field at about 1 p.m. Hope that helps.

Eric Wittenberg

From: Victor Vernon
Subject: Re: Buford & Capt. Johnson

Steven Cassel wrote:

I agree with everything you said in your last post. indeed which hill...that is the burning question.
Tom Desjardin advanced some possibilities earlier today, see below.
There are a number of elevations that may have confused Johnson on his recon. He could have confused the "spur" or shoulder of BRT toward Devil's Den or ascended Houck's Ridge anywhere between DD and the Wheatfield. Most of this ridge was open and rocky on its western face in 1863 (near the triangular field). Your guess is as good as mine on this one.

Also, a note - when things got hot (129 degree heat index July 15) here this summer I would tell the folks at the desk that I was on my way to do my program on Medium Round Top. It was a joke at the time but there is a third hill, south of BRT at Rt. 15 that is approx. between the Round Tops in terms of elevation.

Tom Desjardin

The maps I have show a hill West by Southwest of Big round top, but this hill is west of plum run.
Also the position of Buford at 6:00 pm is along the Emmitsburg road south of the Peach Orchard. Is this Correct?? If so it would have been possible for Johnson to miss Buford by crossing Emmitsburg Rd. North of Buford.


From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: pseudonyms

Susan & Eric Wittenberg says:

Hi, GDG.

I am asking for help, again. Recently, I have gotten interested in the whole idea of people writing criticisms of commanders, etc. anonymously. As a prime example, I cite to Historicus, whom we all seem to acknowledge was Daniel Sickles. In the course of my research, I have come across two other pseudonymous writers whom I would like to try to identify.

The first wrote under the pen name "Truth". I hear rumors that this was John Gibbon. Does anyone know about this? Anybody know why he chose to write anonymously?

The other was "Anchor". Anybody know who Anchor was, and why he chose to hide behind a pseudonym?

Anchor turns up rather extensively in my Buford research, and had an intimate knowledge of Buford's actions, so I suspect that he may have been one of Buford's staff officers. Any input can help clarify the book, so I would greatly appreciate any insight anyone can provide.

Thanks in advance.

Eric Wittenberg

From: (Alexander Cameron)
Subject: Re: Buford on 7/2

Tom wrote:

John Bachelder's "Hour by Hour" maps of the battle show Buford's cavalry in the Valley of Death between the Wheatfield and Plum Run on the 4:30am and 9am maps. Candy's Brigade of Geary's Division is in place resting its left on the Wheatfield Road on the northern slope of LRT (where the 5th Maine's left flank marker now rests). The rest of Geary's Division reaches toward the north.
The 9am map shows the 3rd Corps with Birney massed between the VOD and the Trostle House (with Buford still in VOD). The closest he shows Birney to LRT at 9am is near the George Weikert House. There are no maps after 9am until 4pm.
Bachelder's maps are by no means infallible, but most of his errors are slight in terms of positioning (a hundred yards or so off). I don't know that he ever misplaced a whole division.

Hi Tom,
Bachelder's 9 a.m. map and Birney's description of where he had his division don't seem to quite match do they? I suspect that Birney was not "massed" the whole time he was in that area before he moved forward. His report sounds like he was tactically deployed (Skirmishers and sharpshooters all the way out to the Emmitsburg Road). Do you believe that he would have stated that he "formed a LINE (EIM), resting its left on the Sugar Loaf Mountain and the right thrown in a direct line with the cemetery..." if he was massed and never got closer to LRT than the George Weiker House. I do know that he reviewed several of the Bachelder maps and with one exception (July 3) approved the positions as drawn. I tend to think that although the 9 a.m. map might be accurate, he didn't stay in that position long. I am also a little weak on just where Birney stood during all of the Meade-Sickles squabbling. I know he went to see Meade to smooth things over at one point. It's interesting as always. Bachelder may have never misplaced a whole division but you would think that a general officer who was there and in control would know where his division was.


From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Re: one more Buford-related quote

As a native Kentuckian, Buford had extensive family roots there. Due to the influence of his family, Kentucky Beriah Magoffin offered Buford command of all Kentucky forces, which he turned down. He evidently also was offered a commission as a brigadier in the Confederate army, which he also declined.

BTW, his first cousin Abraham commanded a division under Forrest, and his wife's first cousin, Brig. Gen. Basil W. Duke, was John Hunt Morgan's principal lieutenant. He easily could have been a Reb....


Buford and Dragoon Tactics

Henrik Schou wrote:
Dragoon tactics have always been to act like "mounted" infantry. To move to objectives quickly, dismount and defend the objective on foot until the infantry could arrive in support. Cavalry use during the ACW were quite confusing. They were often used in ways that did not utilize their many benefits. I agree that Buford used his cavalry to the limit of their abilities (but, many a commander have done this before him).

But many factors must be considered in his victory, not just because he was an excellent commander. Terrain and enemy tactics. Troops readiness.

Henrik :)

Dragoon tactics WERE used by many commanders before John Buford. But at Hopewell Gap and Gettysburg, Buford used the tactics not with heavy Cavalry (Dragoons) but with Light Cavalry. There is the difference. Fighting Light Cavalry Dismounted was considered at that time to be somewhat suicidal. Light Cav in battle were shock troops, usually held in reserve until the enemy had broken and the used to harass/disrupt their retreat. Henry Heth's division were NOT broken when Buford took them on.


I agree with your point, but I think Vic and I are talking strictly about cavalry officers. I don't think calling John Buford the best is very original, though, since two of the men you mentioned above also praised him. Here are some quotes that my friend Mike Phipps chose to introduce his book, "The Devil's to Pay" (Farnsworth Military Impressions, 401 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325):

"John Buford was the best cavalryman I ever saw."
-Maj. Gen. John Gibbon

"I fear Buford will never have justice done him for the first days fight... I am not only glad that Buford, who was a good friend of mine always, spoke to me as you related, but it has given me an opportunity... of bringing his deeds in more prominence...
-Maj. Gen. W.S. Hancock to first Lt. Aaron B. Jerome

"The hero at Oak Ridge was John Buford... he not only showed the rarest tenacity, but his personal capacity made his cavalry accomplish marvels, and rival infantry in their steadfastness... Glorious John Buford!"
-J. Watts dePeyster

William Howard

Buford At Thoroughfare Gap?

From: (Thad Humphries)
Subject: Re: Buford and the South

Matt writes:
Michael Shaara obtained his information about Buford being at Thoroughfare Gap from a book written in the 1950s or 60 about various Union commanders. The name of the book and author escape me. But the author was wrong, Buford was not at T Gap. Thus an old story is passed along. It sure has spread, too. We live only a few miles from Thoroughfare Gap and I don't think I'll change my Buford-loving 8 year old's mind on it.

BTW, the booklet on 2d Manassas sold at all national park battlefields also says that Buford fought at the Gap with nary a word about Ricketts. That was always my source (*not* Shaara) until I was corrected by folks here and by Hennessy's excellent "Return to Bull Run."

Thad Humphries

Best regards.

Eric Wittenberg

Subject: Buford and Thoroughfare Gap

Last week some of us were having a conversation about Buford being at Thoroughfare Gap and fighting a delaying action against Longstreet in the Second Manassas Campaign.
The most recent retelling of the story is in the Killer Angels and we were wondering where it came from... I mentioned a book that was written in the 1950's - I thought - but I could not remember the author or the books name. I have done some research and have developed the following information.

The story Michael Shaara recounts in the killer Angles was published by Fletcher Pratt. Pratt first published this story in an article about Buford in The Infantry Journal, March-April 1940. The article was called "Man on Horseback" In 1949 he published a book called Eleven Generals. One of the chapters is called John Buford, Man on Horseback. Here he recounts that Buford fought a delaying action at Thoroughfare Gap. This maybe where Shaara and others got the story.

Mike Phipps in his 1995 book The Devil To Pay, probably has the story right when he says Buford was in and around the Gap and maybe did some skirmishing but did not fight a major delaying action. Phipps gives Buford the correct credit for sending accurate report of Confederate movements.

I guess its like the Heth story about going to Gettysburg for shoes, once started it can't be turned off.
If anyone else can bring any more information on this to the front, please do so.


From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Re: Buford and Thoroughfare Gap


Actually, I have a document from the National Archives (quite obscure--it's on a fragment of an envelope), which indicates that, during this action, Buford's whereabouts were actually unknown, that he was likely in the town of Warrenton, and likely at McDowell's headquarters. This, in my opinion, is proof positive.

The only cavalry that was there was Sir Percy Wyndham's First New Jersey, of Bayard's Brigade.

I think this is what you are referring to here. Hope this helps.

Eric Wittenberg

From: (Anthony Staunton)
Subject: Re: Buford and Thoroughfare Gap


I have come in a bit late on this discussion.

Private Julius D Rhodes, Company F, 5th New York Cav was awarded the Medal of Honor for Thoroughfare Gap on 28 August 1862 and Bull Run on 30 August 1862.

The citation stated:

After having had his horse shot under him in the fight at Thoroughfare Gap he voluntary joined the 105th New York Volunteers and was conspicuous in the advance on the enemy's lines. Displayed gallantry in the advance on the skirmish at Bull Run, VA where he was wounded.

What is of interest to the Buford and Thoroughfare Gap discussion is that the 5th NY Cav was part of Buford's Brigade. Furthermore the 105th NY was part of Ricketts Division.

Anthony Staunton

From: Susan & Eric Wittenberg
Subject: Re: Buford and Thoroughfare Gap


Very interesting. I have said publicly that Buford was not there, that the only cav was the 1st New Jersey. The problem is that much of this is not documented, other than the envelope fragment which I have mentioned in this forum. John Hennessy and I have discussed this issue, and John's opinion is that it is impossible to determine exactly who was where. Unfortunately, I have to agree. For reasons that are a complete mystery, there is no official report of Jno.'s role in the Second Manassas Campaign. Too bad, for it would probably put this whole issue to rest.

Another thought about this...Buford's horses were in wretched condition. See the large volume of correspondence in OR 12 regarding this issue. Even Pope was begging for cav horses. Perhaps this man was dismounted due to a lack of a horse, and was with an infantry unit as a result?

Eric Wittenberg

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