Gettysburg Seminar Papers

The Army of the Potomac in the Gettysburg Campaign

The Officer Corps of the Army of the Potomac's Cavalry During the Battle of Gettysburg
Michael Phipps


At Brandy Station on June 9, 1863, the Union Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac rudely kicked in the door of the house of Confederate Cavalry supremacy in the east. In the Loudoun Valley, a week later, it took the blue troopers awhile to pry the door off its hinges. But finally at Hanover and Gettysburg on the last day of June and first three days of July 1863, they burst through that door, never to look back or to be expelled. What had been the laughing stock of the Union army in 1861 was at the critical stage of its metamorphosis that would end in 1865 with the thunder of hooves trampling what was left of Robert E. Lee's once invincible Army of Northern Virginia into the dust at Five Forks, Saylor's Creek, and Appomattox.

What follows is a personal study of the men who led the Union cavalry through the door to destiny in those legendary ninety hours. Napoleon Bonaparte said it best: "In war, men are nothing, one man is everything." The hero of Austerlitz was of course referring to the key element in any great battle: leadership. It is difficult for a compassionate human being to admit this truism. But the fact is that the common soldier is inevitably a chess piece in battle, moved about at the whim of the commander. He must fight and die bravely, but it is the skill of the general that nine times out of ten will determine the victor in combat. [1]

The Battle of Gettysburg is a shining example of this rule, although some historians have attempted to portray the battle as a leaderless pounding match between common soldiers. Any realistic examinations, however, will reveal that more so than most Civil War engagements, Gettysburg was lost and won by leadership, or the lack thereof. And the price was the highest for the common soldier of any battle in North American history.

Studies of leadership at Gettysburg are too numerous to count. What follows is a look at the key figures who led the "eyes and ears" of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg: The Cavalry Corps. Although the Union horse soldiers would suffer only 3 percent of the total loss for Meade's army, they played a pivotal role in shaping the battle. An English historian, Cecil Chisolm, stated "The real business of cavalry is to manouevre your enemy within effective range of the Corps artillery of your own side." [2] That could be a one-sentence summary of the Union cavalry's contribution at Gettysburg. Without the Union cavalry the Battle of Gettysburg could have been "the Battle of Somewhere Else."

But it is more complex than that. Alfred Pleasonton's horse soldiers provided the Union high command with key intelligence. And if leadership is most important in battle, intelligence is a close second. No less personages than Sun Tzu, the Duke of Wellington, and Erwin Rommel believed in knowing the enemy's intention. Whether Lee received proper intelligence from J.E.B. Stuart will continue to be one of the great controversies of the battle. But there is no doubt that Meade was kept fully informed of enemy movements by his horse soldiers.

And lastly, despite its low casualties (casualties are always low unless it's you that catches a bullet), the Union cavalry did, to answer Bruce Catton's eternal question, fight in the Battle of Gettysburg. And this study will look at some of this lesser-known cavalry fighting in the battle and the importance of leadership therein.

One final introductory note should be included here. This is not a tactical study per se. There will be no droning narrative of troop movements that dominate so much of military history. That does not interest me. When I ponder John Buford, George Custer, David Gregg, and the horse soldiers in blue, I feel it in my heart not in my head. This will be a study of the soul of the Union cavalry, spoken from its heart, to the heart of the reader. Napoleon once said "you must speak to the soul in order to electrify the man." [3] The soul of the cavalry was Buford in the cupola of the Lutheran Seminary speaking of the Devil. It was Gregg defying orders that made little sense. It was Custer four lengths ahead of his men screaming for them to "Come on." And it was Kilpatrick ordering a charge that would cost the life of a most promising cavalry brigadier. Those images are permanent. The study of what regiment went where is fleeting. The reader will have to look elsewhere for that.

Prelude: Hooves Coming In The Distance

Just who and what was the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg? The story has been told hundreds of times, probably best by Stephen Starr in his epic Union Cavalry in the Civil War. The northern clerks, city-boys, and clumsy farmers had rings ridden around them in the first two years of the war by J.E.B. Stuart and his "born in the saddle" beau sabeurs of Southern gentry. Then in the summer of '63 the Federal horse soldiers turn the tables and the war ends with the blue mounted army grinding up their poor gray counterparts in a massive juggernaut. It is a dramatic "comeback kid" story and like any legend has some truth in it. But it's not quite that simplistic. [4]

In fact it was leadership and tactics that set the tone for mounted operations in the "Eastern Theatre." The Union cavalry based all of its organization and tactics on the pre-Civil War U.S. Army experience. In particular, the five regiments of mounted troops that existed prior to the war produced many if not most of the premier cavalry officers of the war. And almost to a man they had gone to West Point.

Three of the top four cavalry commanders for the Union at Gettysburg were pre-Civil War regular army cavalrymen and West Pointers. On the Confederate side it was five out of eight of the highest ranking cavalry officers. (It should also be added that Lee, Ewell, Hood, Sedgwick, Pender, and R.H. Anderson were academy graduates and pre-Civil War horse soldiers.) [5]

At the Point it was Napoleon's massed cavalry charges that were stressed by the legendary instructor of military science and engineering, Dennis Mahan. [6] Every First Classman that graduated from the Academy from 1832 until the 1870's was instructed by Mahan. Unfortunately, when the newly commissioned officers reported to their regiment the reality was totally different. There were no magnificent Waterloo and Eylau-style mounted assaults in the pre-Civil War Army. As a matter of fact, the entire U.S. Army had never fielded an entire army that equaled the size of Napoleon's typical cavalry force.

The U.S. Army had five mounted regiments before the Civil War: the 1st (1833) and 2nd Dragoons (1836), the Mounted Rifles (1846), and the 1st and 2nd Cavalry (1855). These troopers were not together as regiments at all, but were spread in company-sized posts from the Kansas-Nebraska Plains to Texas through New Mexico Territory, into California and Oregon Territory and again east into the Mormon stronghold of Utah. In this vast isolation small mounted patrols against "hostile" Indians were the rule. In all of the Plains Indian Wars there was only one saber charge by a regiment. This occurred at Solomon's Fork, Kansas, in 1857 (J.E.B. Stuart was wounded there). In the Mexican War Captain Charles May's bold charge with a squadron of 2nd Dragoons at Resaca de la Palma and Phil Kearney's pursuit at Churubusco provided the only significant European style cavalry charge of the entire two-year conflict. [7]

So despite the fact that the flamboyant one-armed veteran of five wars, Kearney, had co-authored the manual of cavalry tactics (1841) after his visit to the French cavalry school, and all academy schooled frontier and Mexican officers had read it, the reality was an unpleasant surprise. For Pleasonton, Buford, Gregg, Sedgwick, Stuart, Fitz Lee, "Grumble" Jones, Robertson, Chambliss, R.E. Lee, Ewell, Hood, Pender, and R.H. Anderson; "cavalry" meant boredom, primitive living conditions, disease, and sporadic guerilla-style combat where few prisoners were taken and the "chivalry" of European battlefields was a fairy tale. [8]

And then the Civil War came and both sides scrambled to field large formations of cavalry. The north was slower to do so because General-in-Chief Winfield Scott was a notorious cavalry hater. That was an American tradition dating back to George Washington. Also, it was assumed the war would be short and there not be sufficient time to raise cavalry. The south with their plantations and the "cult of the horse" was a little quicker to raise mounted forces. But in point of fact, both sides had their share of good and bad moments in the first year of the war. Historians have made much of the charge of the 1st Virginia Cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart at 1st Manassas. But that legendary moment was in fact a muddled mess although successful to a degree. Conveniently forgotten is the valient performance of seven companies of U.S. Regular cavalry who were one of the last Union units to leave the field and one of a handful to stay intact. Second Lt. George Custer won his first citation of bravery with the 2nd (later the 5th) U.S. Cavalry. In August 1861, the 1st and 2nd U.S. Dragoons became the 1st and 2nd U.S. Cavalry. The Mounted Rifles became the 3rd U.S. Cavalry. And the 1st and 2nd U.S. Cavalry became the 4th and 5th U.S. Cavalry. The 3rd U.S. Cavalry was created for the war, but became the 6th U.S. Cavalry. [9]

After a year of confusion in the mounted services in the east Robert E. Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia and made the most significant cavalry-related decision of the war up until that point. A mounted brigade, then a division, was created and would be commanded by the man John Sedgwick, a former cavalryman, called "the best cavalry officer ever foaled in America." J.E.B. Stuart, the Gray Cavalier as Stuart became known, led his "Invincibles" to victory after victory in the next seven months. [10]

Meanwhile, McClellan, ironically also a cavalry officer (although he had never before served on the frontier), refused to concentrate his mounted forces, and neither did Burnside. John Pope created three cavalry brigades in the 2nd Manassas campaign and this one deed brought John Buford to prominence as one of the mounted brigadiers. Buford's intelligence work and mounted charge in the battle itself were some of the few glimmers of light for the Union in that entire debacle. But no doubt about it, July 1862 until February 1863 were the dark ages for the Union horse soldiers in the east. [11]

But then came Joe Hooker, a name which is now infamous in Civil War annals. But to the blue cavalry, he was manna-from-heaven. He created the Cavalry Corps after assuming command of the Army of the Potomac and gave command to Major General George Stoneman, a veteran horse soldier with both West Point and frontier cavalry pedigrees. Hooker left no question as to what he expected of the Cavalry Corps. "We ought to be invincible and by God sir we shall be." The tide had begun to turn. [12]

Next came Kelly's Ford on March 17, 1863, where 2,000 Federal horsemen under William Averill brutally punished Fitz Lee's Rebel troopers, killing the already legendary horse artilleryman, John Pelham. This was followed by "Stoneman's Raid" where most of the Cavalry Corps was sent to raid behind Lee's lines as Hooker "maneuvered" Lee into the Battle of Chancellorsville. The result of that battle is well-known, and Hooker blamed Stoneman despite the fact that "Fighting Joe" himself had sent the Cavalry Corps out of the action. But in actual fact the raid in and of itself had been a moderate success and was a key factor in uniting the Federal cavalry. As one trooper remembered "It was the first great achievement of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, and from which dated the rise of that branch of service. It was ever after a matter of pride with the boys that they were on 'Stoneman's Raid'." [13]

Joe Hooker didn't see it that way and relieved Stoneman for medical reasons (Stoneman had hemorrhoids which is obviously not conducive to cavalry operations). Replacing him was Major General Alfred Pleasonton who would lead the Cavalry Corps at Gettysburg. Any examination of Union Cavalry leadership in the battle has to start at the top. [14]


The 38-year old Federal cavalry chieftain at Gettysburg remains to this day an enigma. He is seen as part blowhard, martinet, political intriguer, bright, aggressive cavalier, and unsung hero. There has never been a published biography of Pleasonton, a rarity for a corps commander. Most references to him are derisive and he certainly deserves some of the criticism. But as with many historical figures, "The Knight of Romance," as he was dubbed, perhaps sarcastically, has been reduced to the lowest common denominator. He was in reality a complex man, not a caricature.

Alfred Pleasonton

A native of Washington, D.C., he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1844. (A true mystery at Gettysburg is why Pleasonton's statue is on the Pennsylvania Monument.) He spent the next seventeen years in the toughest and most colorful mounted unit in the old army: the "bold and dashing" 2nd U.S. Dragoons. (On paper only Dick Ewell had more pre-Civil War cavalry experience than Pleasonton of all Gettysburg commanders.) Some historians have favored the well-disciplined 1st U.S. Dragoons, while most love "Jeff Davis's own": the 2nd U.S. Cavalry which produced 16 Civil War general officers. But the truth is that the 2nd U.S. Dragoons bore the brunt of the fighting in the 2nd Seminole War, the Mexican War, on the Plains, in Utah, and in the southwest desert. [15]

The 2nd Dragoons were led during most of the pre-Civil War era by two cavalry and "old army legends: Colonels William S. Harney and Phillip St. George Cooke. One cannot understand the development of cavalry before the war without a study of these two men. They cast a long shadow and influenced not only Pleasonton but other 2nd Dragoons, such as Buford, Merritt, and Starr. [16]

Harney, who served for 43 years in the Army before the Civil War, was a 6'4" perfect physical specimen. He had ordered his dragoons to camouflage themselves as the Indians did during the Seminole War and was reprimanded for it. Upon receiving an order from none other than General Winfield Scott he replied "'blank' General Scott and the whole fraternity of Washington Generals." He had also "Blanked" the Secretary of the Treasury calling him a "blanking idiot." In 1855 when Harney led the expedition against the Sioux that would culminate in the Battle of Ash Hollow he had stated "I'm for battle, no peace." This is the larger than life man who led Pleasonton's Dragoons from 1846 to 1858. Harney's troopers were noted for their toughness, profanity, longer-than-regulation hair, and some even sported earrings! [17]

Phillip St. George Cooke had been the lt. colonel during Harney's colonelcy of the regiment and commanded the 2nd Dragoons from 1858 to 1861. Cooke has been called, and with good reason, the "Father of U.S. Cavalry." Graduating from West Point in 1827 Cooke was one of the officers in Stephen Watts Kearney's (the uncle of Phil) 1st U.S. Dragoons, the first true mounted regiment of the U.S. Army. He transferred to the 2nd Dragoons in the Mexican War and eventually wrote a cavalry tactics manual that would supersede Phil Kearney's during the Civil War. [18]

Cooke commanded the 2nd Dragoons at Ash Hollow in 1855 and in the Mormon expedition of 1857-1858. Pleasonton was present during both expeditions and learned the realities of the frontier. At Ash Hollow over one hundred Sioux were brutally cut down in what some historians have called a massacre. Also present were John Buford, Beverly Robertson, Gouverneur K. Warren, Henry Heth, and Albion Howe. During the Mormon expedition the dragoons endured a brutal sub-zero winter in the open and survived. [19]

Cooke believed in the saber charge and was against the use of the carbine, although ironically his students Pleasonton, Buford, and Merritt would later use dismounted tactics with carbines to their advantage. But despite some of his obsolete ideas and his less-than-perfect performance against J.E.B. Stuart (his son-in-law) in the Peninsula campaign of '62, Philip St. George Cooke stands as one of the great figures in the history of the cavalry. When the Civil War broke out Cooke, a Virginian, stated simply "I owe Virginia nothing, I owe my country everything." For this J.E.B. Stuart never forgave the old man who was his father-in-law. [20]

It was in this tough, devil-may-care, brutal environment that Alfred Pleasonton developed as a cavalry officer. He was breveted for bravery at Palo Alto and Resaca de le Palma during the Mexican War. He was John Buford's company commander for a time. He and Buford were friends, a relationship that would last into the Civil War and may have had an influence at Gettysburg. Some Buford "fans" are horrified by this for obvious reasons. How could the tough, no-nonsense Buford be friendly with boot-licking, politico, cavalier Pleasonton? But it happened. They went buffalo hunting together in July 1855 and after Buford was dead, Pleasonton wrote a moving if inaccurate version of his old friend's demise. Pleasonton blamed "a broken heart" due to his being passed over for promotion for Buford's death. Pleasonton accused dictatorial Secretary of War Edwin Stanton for blacklisting "southern" officers such as Buford. Typhoid is most likely what killed the old dragoon, but Pleasonton's defense of his friend is genuine and touching. [21]

When Ft. Sumter was fired on, Pleasonton was at Ft. Crittenden, Utah, with Captain Buford and Second Lieutenant Wesley Merritt (and Captain John Gibbon). It did not take him long to start his characteristic "behind the scenes" political maneuvering. On May 4, 1861, the soon to be "Knight of Romance" wrote to Montgomery Blair, postmaster general of the United States, and asked for direct influence:

I see by the papers that the President had issued a Proclamation increasing the Regular Army by eight regiments of infantry and one of cavalry. Will you permit me to ask for your influence on my behalf for promotion. You know my service and qualifications and I am confident you will not hesitate to assist me. [22]

Meanwhile there was army business to attend to. Even the Civil War could not interfere with that. Pleasonton was placed in command of the column of 2nd Dragoons that now had to march 2,000 miles east to join in the festivities. It took them four months to reach Washington, D.C. (Buford, Merritt, and John Gibbon were also in this column.) It is important to remember that there were virtually no regular army cavalry or infantry regiments east of the Mississippi at the outset of the war. The regulars were fulfilling their primary mission which was fighting "hostile" Indians. If "the army" had been in Washington at the beginning, the Civil War would have been over in weeks. But the regulars were not available and there was no "Rapid Deployment Force" in those days. [23]

Alfred Pleasonton's rise from regular army major in the fall of '61 to volunteer major general and corps commander was meteoric. He was promoted to volunteer brigadier general in July 1862 and performed competently on the Peninsula and at Antietam. Although as Maryland campaign Historian D. Scott Hartwig has pointed out, the "Knight" was a much better fighter than he was a scout. His intelligence work at Antietam was abysmal, and as we shall see he continued his faulty intelligence work in the Gettysburg campaign, although his subordinates would save him in the end. [24]

After Antietam, J.E.B. repeated his "ride around" tactic that had made him legendary on the Peninsula and in the process embarrassed Pleasonton's command. Always quick to blame someone else, Pleasonton chose General George Stoneman. Stoneman of course never forgave Pleasonton for this. So it follows that when Stoneman took his newly formed Cavalry Corps on "Stoneman's Raid" he "conveniently" left behind the troublemaker. But this backfired when the raid was perceived as a failure and Stoneman was made the scapegoat of the Chancellorsville campaign. Meanwhile, for Pleasonton, the pen was always mightier than the sword. At Chancellorsville, Pleasonton's Brigade participated and he performed competently. However, in his official report he exaggerated his "heroic" role and Hooker later introduced Lincoln to Pleasonton and told the president that the cavalryman had "saved the army." So it follows that Stoneman is relieved of command and the "savior of the army" is given the command of the Cavalry Corps in mid-May 1863. His promotion to major general followed a month later. [25]

So, if you are in the minority and believe Pleasonton was a decent cavalry officer, his rise was due to his 17 years of solid pre-Civil War mounted experience and his performance in the Peninsula, at Antietam, and Chancellorsville. Thus Pleasonton was an able organizer (sort of the McClellan of the cavalry) and injected life into the dormant Federal mounted army in the summer and fall of '63 when the tables were turned on J.E.B. Stuart. In addition, he was responsible for the promotion of Custer, Farnsworth, Merritt, and Kilpatrick who for better or worse provided youth and aggressive spirit into what had been a colorless branch of the service. If you belong to the vast legion of Pleasonton-haters, he was a cowardly boot-licking, lying martinet who was more concerned with parties and food than he was in the tactical disposition of his troopers.

It is important to note here that the most quoted source on Pleasonton's character is one Captain Charles Francis Adams, son of the minister to England and direct descendant of President John Adams. Captain Adams in his memoirs vigorously attacks the corps commander. "He is pure and simple a newspaper humbug. You always see his name in the papers....He does nothing save with a view to a newspaper paragraph." [26]

This quote is used again and again by cavalry historians, and Adams' assessment certainly contains elements of truth. However, the good captain was not Napoleon, although at times his memoirs are treated as such. He was an upperclass, should I say snotty, New Englander with blue blood running through his veins. He also did not like Hooker and Kilpatrick. So if you drank, partied, and womanized, you were "out" with Adams. If Pleasonton is to be judged, let us judge him on his performance, not his personal life. And one senses that the oft-quoted Captain is doing just that.

That brings us to the summer of '63 and Gettysburg. Things started off well enough with the largest mounted cavalry engagement in North American history at Brandy Station on June 9. There, Pleasonton's horse soldiers launched a strong attack across the Rappahannock and came close to crushing Stuart's massed Division around Culpepper, Virginia. But to his credit Stuart recovered nicely and Pleasonton withdrew across the river at the end of the day. But a new day had dawned. One Federal trooper summed it up: "The rebels were going to have a review, but our boys reviewed them." J.E.B. Stuart's aide Major Henry McClellan agreed "This battle made the Union cavalry. The fact is that up to June 9, 1863, the Confederate cavalry did have its own way... but after that time we held our ground only by hard fighting." [27]

And for this turning-of-the-tide Pleasonton does deserve some credit although he rarely receives any. I have been to Brandy Station numerous times with Clarke "Bud" Hall, a modern Civil War hero, and the victor of a modern battle with greedy land developers. He showed where the Union troopers sharpened their sabers the night before they crossed what would be for them the great divide. We stood at Beverly Ford where Buford calmly smoked his pipe as "Grimes" Davis led his last attack, and on Fleetwood Heights: Cavalry Valhalla. And like it or not, Pleasonton was in command on that glorious day.

What did he actually do at Brandy Station? The truth is his actual tactical control of the battle was close to non-existent. Buford and Gregg commanded the two wings of the corps independently and Pleasonton stayed well back from the front, barely moving south of the Rappahannock. Pleasonton has been accused of being a physical coward. This is unfair if you examine his admirable performance at Antietam, in Virginia in the fall of '63, and in Missouri in 1864 (where he personally led a saber charge). But even the most objective analysis of Pleasonton at Brandy Station shows him to be out of touch, while Stuart was everywhere on that field. Pleasonton's biggest decision was to withdraw just as Gregg and Buford had Stuart on the ropes. It should be noted that Hooker had hinted to Pleasonton for a withdrawal at midday on June 9, but the corps commander did not argue. [28]

Next came the Loudoun Valley fighting of June 17-21, where Pleasonton's troopers tried to penetrate J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry screen of Lee's northward-moving main body. There the corps commander seemed to take Hooker's orders to "lose men" rather than intelligence seriously. The result was three vicious battles at Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville. Pleasonton again demonstrated aggressiveness but failed to provide any meaningful intelligence to Hooker. There are some who believe a patrol of Buford's 8th New York Cavalry reported seeing Lee's army in the Shenandoah Valley, but this is historically debatable. [29]

So that brings us to the battle of Gettysburg itself. What effect if any did the corps commander have there? In point of fact he has been all but totally forgotten. In the movie Gettysburg, the spy, Harrison, says "Seven corps, all coming this way." If you ask the common Gettysburg afficianado to name the Union corps, they will name the seven infantry corps. But there was an eighth corps, and Pleasonton led it. The Cavalry Corps played the key role in determining the location of the battle. They, too, also fought in the battle, and the blue troopers fought well.

But Pleasonton receives little credit for any of this and for good reason. At the whim of General George Meade, Pleasonton stayed with the commanding general and did not actually participate in any of the cavalry actions. So in analyzing Pleasonton we must also look at Meade's use of cavalry, or in reality, misuse of cavalry. [30]

After Meade took command near Frederick on June 28 he ordered the army north toward the Maryland/Pennsylvania border. His vague orders to Pleasonton read "The cavalry will guard the right and left flanks and the rear...give the commanding general information of the movements of the enemy in front." Pleasonton, the next day, gave more specific orders to his three division commanders, and in issuing Special Order #99 may have made his greatest contribution to the campaign. He told Buford's First Cavalry Division (minus Merritt's Reserve Brigade who would guard the rear near present day Thurmont, Maryland) to march to Emitsburg then on to Gettysburg by evening of June 30. This would serve to protect Reynolds' left wing who were also marching to Emmitsburg. [31]

Here is where many historians have mistakenly added that Pleasonton ordered Buford to hold Gettysburg "at all costs." That was not in the order that John Buford received. It comes from Pleasonton's March 1864 testimony for the Committee on the Conduct of War. After Buford was dead both Pleasonton and Hooker tried to claim that it was they who were responsible for the 1st Cavalry Division riding into the fated town. For Pleasonton it is half true, like many of his reports. He did order Buford to Gettysburg, but the "hold at all costs" comes later. Many historians have strung the two together. [32]

So it appears that the cavalry corps commander competently did a map check and picked Gettysburg with its ten major roads intersecting as a good place to screen Reynold's advance. But he did not choose the battlefield. Pleasonton also sent David Gregg's Second Division to protect the advance of the Sixth Corps toward Westminster and ordered Kilpatrick's newly created Third Division straight up the middle toward Littlestown, Pennsylvania. "The Knight" very competently handled his mission, screening the advance of the army and protecting the rear [33].

On June 30, the day before the main battle, Meade again vaguely ordered the cavalry to the "front and flanks well out in all directions." But he also told Reynolds to send the First and Eleventh Corps to Gettysburg. An interesting side to this is that Meade later the same day wrote to Reynolds "with Buford at ought to be advised in time of their [the Rebels] approach. In case of an advance in force either against you or Howard at Emmitsburg you might fall back to that place." It is obvious from this that Meade did not envision Gettysburg as a place to fight and that Buford's presence there was as an outpost to warn Reynolds of a rebel attack. [34]

That last day of June was in fact the true beginning of the great confrontation between Lee's and Meade's army. Buford rode into Gettysburg and made his fateful decision to stand and fight. Kilpatrick performed competently against Stuart at the Battle of Hanover, a little known nor understood skirmish which may have had far reaching consequences. And Gregg's Division (minus Huey's Brigade which was left to guard the trains at Westminster), received a series of orders that could only be defined as confusing. It is a miracle that Gregg ever made it to Gettysburg. Pleasonton sent five different orders to Gregg telling him to march to Manchester, Maryland; Hanover, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; York, Pennsylvania, and finally Gettysburg. This sounds incredible to anyone who has never served in the Regular Army. But anyone who has, knows the frustration of contradictary orders issued from high command. [35]

It is here on the 30th that Pleasonton began to lose control of his corps. The next day, only Buford would accomplish anything of note. Both Kilpatrick and Gregg would march and countermarch looking in vain for both Lee's main body and Stuart. In fact, two-thirds of the Federal mounted force would accomplish exactly nothing for close to 48 hours.

"Buford's Defense" will be covered in detail later. Pleasonton's role July 1 was non-existent. What is truly amazing is that the corps commander on the evening of June 30 seems to ignore Buford's perfect intelligence report of Lee's three infantry corps and credits Kilpatrick with "doing well." "Little Kil" reported the Rebel army in Berlin, well to the east of their actual location which Buford had located exactly. So the grim truth is that Alfred Pleasonton really had no idea where Lee was and effectively removed two of his divisions from the first two days of battle. Luckily, all three of his division commanders saved him. [36]

As the first day at Gettysburg degenerated into a bloodbath, Pleasonton lost all semblance of command of his troopers. He stayed well to the rear near Meade's Headquarters. Of course Meade won the battle, so his supporters say the new commander's absence from the front was proper. But Pleasonton's absence served absolutely no purpose and showed poor leadership. It is important to note here that Pleasonton was not "Chief of Cavalry," a staff position that McClellan and Burnside had used. A commander should be well forward. Pleasonton was not. [37]

Pleasonton's "contribution" to the first day of fighting at Gettysburg was to order Buford, Merritt, Gregg, and Kilpatrick back to Maryland should they be pressed, adding a cliche "dispute every inch of ground." Now, Meade may have had something to do with this, but these are not exactly inspiring orders. In Pleasonton's defense, it is always good to have an alternate plan. However, the enemy did "press" Buford. And he held, no thanks to Pleasonton. As for Gregg and Kilpatrick the orders to "dispute every inch of ground" made no sense. But Gregg finally was given some decisive direction and told to go to Hanover and Gettysburg and assume command of Kilpatrick's Division. This was a mysterious order and would indirectly lead to the July 2 fighting on Brinkerhoff's Ridge and at Hunterstown. [38]

July 2, 1863, the bloodiest day at Gettysburg would not add any laurels to Pleasonton's reputation. He had responsibility in what I call the "Buford debacle" in which one-third of the Union horse soldiers would be removed from Meade's left flank at midday. This lack of cavalry protection on the Union southern flank some say provoked General Dan Sickles in moving his Third Corps forward into the "Peach Orchard Salient." Some historians blame Buford, stating he asked to be "relieved." There is no direct evidence of this, although it is possible that the logistics-minded Buford may have wanted to rest his men and horses. A good commander always looks out for his men, and the 1st Cavalry Division leader was certainly a good commander by any definition. [39]

The real fault here lies with Pleasonton and Meade. Actually, it is difficult to discern which cavalry decisions were made by the army commander and which by the corps commander. At 12:50 p.m. Meade had written to Pleasonton saying that he did not authorize Buford's removal. Then five minutes later Meade told his cavalry chief to replace Buford's Division. This is obviously poor leadership on both Meade's and Pleasonton's part. (The 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry, of J.I. Gregg's Brigade, did respond to the Union left but arrived too late to protect Sickles left.) [40]

Another aspect of "Buford's relief" is that another brigade of Gregg's Division (Huey's) was also dispatched to Westminster for security. This means that Pleasonton used three of his eight brigades to protect the army's rear. Merritt's regulars were also in the rear during most of the battle. The Cavalry Corps being used as a single weapon was a year in the future. Again, Meade also bears some responsibility in this. He could have used infantry to accomplish the security mission, and certainly did not use all of his foot soldiers (particularly the Sixth Corps) during the battle. [41]

Things just got worse for the Union cavalry from there. By the time of Longstreet's Assault at 4:00 p.m., July 2, Buford was gone and Gregg and Kilpatrick were still three miles east of Gettysburg coming from Hanover where they received more vague and confused orders from their corps commander to protect the right flank of the army. This resulted in Gregg attacking Confederate infantry along the Hanover Road at Brinkerhoff's Ridge and Kilpatrick becoming engaged with Stuart's rearguard at Hunterstown, four miles northeast of Gettysburg. These skirmishes were interesting and would have an effect on the cavalry fighting the next day, but would have little or no bearing on the main battle. [42]

Then as dark descended on that bloody Second Day, Pleasonton or Meade then issued the most incredible cavalry order of the battle. Leaving both flanks totally exposed, Gregg and Kilpatrick were ordered south to concentrate at Two Taverns and White Run Church along the Baltimore Pike. So at dawn on the fateful 3rd day, only two-thirds of the Federal mounted force was on the field and they were two miles behind the front lines, accomplishing absolutely nothing. [43]

It is amazing that this cavalry deployment has never really been discussed in all of the myriad of works on the battle. There are only three explanations. The first, which I lean toward, is that Meade was totally incompetent in the use of the mounted service. He would prove this again and again in the year to come. And Pleasonton went along with this strange plan. A second possibility was that Meade really was thinking of retreating from Gettysburg, and Gregg and Kilpatrick were there to cover the retrograde movement. And lastly, Meade and Pleasonton were using the entire Cavalry Corps on the field to protect the wagon train in the rear, a bit of an overkill in anyone's book.

Finally on the morning of the 3rd, Meade or Pleasonton woke up literally and figuratively and decided to protect the flanks of the now famous "fish-hook" defense. Kilpatrick was ordered south to protect the southern end while Gregg was ordered to march his men a mile northwest up the Baltimore Pike linking up with Union infantry near Wolf's Hill. (Gregg's position would have been near the present day Route 97/Interstate 15 intersection.) Kilpatrick moved with one brigade (Farnsworth's) to just southwest of Big Round Top. For some reason never truly explained, Custer's Michigan Brigade was left behind at Two Taverns. [44]

Here "the Knight" redeemed himself somewhat and made his only good decision during the battle itself. Gregg had seen the open ground east of Brinkerhoff's Ridge the day before and argued with Pleasonton's aide who had delivered the order. The 2nd Division commander wanted not to move northwest but north and east to block enemy cavalry movements through what would soon be called the "East Cavalry Field." The aide (probably A.J. Alexander or Yates) returned to Cavalry Headquarters and Pleasonton assented to Gregg's wishes. Oddly, he also told Gregg he could have one of Kilpatrick's brigades, almost as if he knew that Custer had mistakenly been left behind. This decision allowed Gregg later in the day to confront J.E.B. Stuart with enough troopers to stop what Stuart described as an attempt to "effect a surprise on the enemy's rear." On the southern flank, Kilpatrick claimed later that Pleasonton ordered him to attack the enemy's right and rear. Then Pleasonton could be credited with two level-headed aggressive military decisions on the 3rd and climactic day. [45]

So for all the fans of the Union Cavalry Corps Commander (which could be counted on one hand), Alfred Pleasonton wisely ordered Buford to Gettysburg, and effectively screened the movements of the Army of the Potomac into Pennsylvania. Through Buford's contribution, Meade received near-perfect intelligence of the Confederate movements. Although it seems that he lent more credence to Kilpatrick's erroneous reports. It is obvious here that Buford bailed out his old company commander. He also made an excellent, open-minded decision on July 3 which set the stage for a stellar showing by Gregg on the East Cavalry Field, effectively protecting the right flank of the Army of the Potomac.

Or to the majority of historians, Pleasonton completely lost control of his corps and was not really a factor at all in the battle. Realistically, he can be critcized for his vague and contradicting orders to Kilpatrick and Gregg, his lack of presence at any of the cavalry fighting, his removal of Buford to Westminster, and possibly for the strange deployment of Gregg and Kilpatrick on the morning of July 3. On the other hand, Meade's lack of understanding of mounted operations played a huge role in all of this. It is almost impossible to separate Meade and Pleasonton during the battle.

Ironically, Pleasonton and Meade would become bitter enemies as the cavalryman testified against the army commander in March 1864 during the hearings of the Committee on Conduct of the War. Meade's ire and Grant's ascent in 1864 which included bringing Phil Sheridan east, would mean the end of the line for the "Knight of Romance." He was sent west to obscurity in the Department of Missouri where he did quite well. He left the army in 1865 in a dispute over rank. [46]

It must be noted that although the Union Cavalry was organized as a corps, they were not used as a corps at Gettysburg. Part of this was the splitting of the three divisions to cover the army's advance north. But one senses that neither Meade nor Pleasonton ever planned on uniting the Cavalry Corps for offensive operations. That would not really happen in the east until Sheridan arrived in 1864. Only Buford fought at Gettysburg on the 1st and early on the 2nd. He was removed, then the remaining two divisions would be split on the 3rd day and moved to each flank. One wonders what a concerted assault by cavalry on one of Lee's flanks after Pickett's Charge would have accomplished.

Of all the corps commanders at Gettysburg, the most obscure is Alfred Pleasonton. He is even more invisible than Slocum, Sedgwick, Sykes, and A.P. Hill. But the truth is, he had helped mold the Cavalry Corps at Gettysburg and deserves credit for that, at the very least. And he was lucky to have some of the best cavalry officers in American history as subordinates.

As a final footnote on Pleasonton, he was directly responsible for the certification of two of the most legendary careers in U.S. Cavalry history. On June 28, 1863, Meade took command and the Army of the Potomac paused before heading north from Frederick, Maryland. There George Armstrong Custer, Wesley Merritt, and Elon Farnsworth were promoted from captains to brigadier generals. This was at the direct request of Pleasonton. Also Judson Kilpatrick replaced Julius Stahel as division commander of the newly formed 3rd Division. Of course Custer and Merritt would go on to stellar Civil War performances and post-war legend as Indian fighters. Farnsworth showed great promise but would be killed less than a week later. Kilpatrick, although performing well at times, came out of the war with much the same negative reputation as Pleasonton. [47]

But these four aggressive young commanders would light a fire under the Cavalry Corps at Gettysburg and in the two years of war to come. Pleasonton's reasoning for promoting such young men in command was explained in 1864: "I have seen men [in combat] when they have been hesitating or excited, and some dashing man would come up, and you would see the men brighten up at once." The average age of the four generals was 25. It should be noted, however, that Pleasonton hated foreign-born officers and ruined a number of them unjustly in making these promotions. Stahel (Hungarian), Wyndam (English), Duffie (French), and Dicesnola (Italian) were among the casualties of Pleasonton's bigoted command style. But if one considers Custer and Merritt's performance in the war you have to give the corps commander credit for recognizing talent. Farnsworth could have gone on to a star-studded performance, and say what you will, Kilpatrick was picked to command cavalry by none other than William T. Sherman himself. [48]

As an organizer, cheerleader, and "agent" of the Cavalry Corps, Alfred Pleasonton is top rate and should receive the credit for leading the Cavalry Corps in the glory days of the Gettysburg campaign. But the real decision-making and fighting would be done by his subordinates, most of whom were superior to their corps commander as cavalry officers.


It may be Buford's facial features. With some Civil War officers the face was a mask. J.E.B. Stuart's photographs give away little of the colorful character of the "Beau Sabeur" of the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee's countenance hides the Napoleonic aggressiveness underneath. George McClellan does not seem the man that over one hundred thousand Union troops once adored.

Take a look, however, at the photos of Brigadier General John Buford. It is all there: the tough, frontier hardened, cynical professional. The thirteen years in Indian country, the disaster at 2nd Bull Run, the wet misery of Stoneman's Raid, the combat at Brandy Station where he would fight five times in four months, and some would say imminent death can be discerned in his eyes. (One of which was, in fact, small and triangular.) [49]

I served under such men in the Regular Army of the United States in the 1970s and 1980s who were veterans of the frontier war of Vietnam. Note that even Buford's haircut and mustache would almost conform to modern army standards. That may be why he appeals to the present day military man. One cannot picture a Custer or Stuart wearing OD green. With Buford, though, the cupola of the Lutheran Seminary could easily be replaced with the cupola of an M-1 Abrams Main Battle Tank.

There certainly were many commanders in American history equivalent or greater in competence than John Buford. But few have been in the position that the 1st Cavalry Division Commander found himself at Gettysburg on June 30 and July 1, 1863. Webster defines "crossroads" as "at the point where one must choose between different courses of action." With its ten major roads and Lee's army converging on it, Gettysburg was literally and figuratively one of the great American crossroads.

John Buford

And it was at Gettysburg that John Buford would make the greatest decision ever by a cavalry officer in the history of this country. All soldiers dream of being a central figure in a great battle. Buford was one of the few that was able to play that role.

In deep Southern lore, a crossroads can also be a dark and foreboding place where deals are made with the Devil. In return for some earthly reward, an eternal price tag is exacted. It is chilling that Buford's most remembered quote are the words he uttered to General John Reynolds at Gettysburg as the infantry commander arrived on the field and asked how things were going. Buford said, "The Devil's to Pay," and for Buford, the reward was that he had selected the correct battlefield to finally defeat the undefeated Army of Northern Virginia. The price tag was Buford's death by typhus less than six months later. But that is only if you believe in such things. (Although disease accounted for half of all the 650,000 Civil War deaths, very few general officers died of disease.) [50]

Buford's life in a sense was a model of the pre-war frontier U.S. Army. After a southern upbringing in the bluegrass equestrian paradise of Kentucky and the Mississippi River town of Rock Island, Illinois, he graduated from West Point in 1848. He was assigned for a short period of time to the 1st U.S. Dragoons, but spent the bulk of the next dozen years in Harney's and Cooke's tough, flamboyant 2nd U.S. Dragoons where he was considered by Wesley Merritt "the soldier, par excellence...his company had no superior in the service." To list all the accolades from peers, subordinates, and superiors that he received during his service both on the frontier and in the Civil War could fill a volume in itself. Only one man, Abner Doubleday, would ever write anything remotely negative about him (more on that later). [51]

He fought and killed Navajos, Comanches, Sioux, and Apaches. He cleared bars of brawling, drunken soldiers and intimidated Mexicans who crossed the border. He was the quartermaster of the Mormon expedition, taught at West Point and the Cavalry school at Carlisle, and escorted recruits by ship to Oregon. In other words, John Buford lived the tough, scorned, hard, bitter life of a regular cavalry officer. And as has been discussed earlier, he served under Army legends who no doubt influenced him: Colonels William Harney and Philip St. George Cooke. He learned lessons in reconnaissance, scouting, and supply that he would use to his advantage later in life. [52]

But unlike Pleasonton, his 2nd Dragoon company commander and friend, Buford eschewed the cavalier, dashing, dandified style. His form was more cynical, hardened, professional, and was almost 20th Century in outlook. He was, however, always popular with his troopers whom he took care of like a father. Buford and Pleasonton illustrated the age-old conflict of the soldier versus courtier.

When the "big" war broke out "Honest John" as he was called chose to stay not with the north, but with the U.S. Army. One senses that Buford did not particularly like Yankees, but the Regular Army was going to fight for the Union and thus he would also. Later in 1863, Buford requested to command regular or "western" troops and not be assigned with eastern (or typically Yankee) troops. And, of course, he absolutely hated civilians as demonstrated numerous times in his dispatches in the Official Records and his summary executions of suspected spies. So despite his southern roots, his family's ownership of eleven slaves, his cousin Abraham's status as a Rebel general, the veteran dragoon stayed with the Union. It could have been that he had lived in Illinois, or maybe his friend John Gibbon from North Carolina influenced him or vice-versa. Also, Cooke and Harney, both southern, stayed loyal to the Union. But in the end, Buford would ride into Gettysburg wearing blue. [53]

The first fifteen months of the war for Buford were spent in total obscurity as the army in its not-so-infinite wisdom stuck one of the most experienced cavalry officers of the pre-Civil War in a bureaucratic staff position in Washington D.C. In June 1862 Buford was a major in the army, sitting behind a desk, where he was luckily spotted by General John Pope who knew of his reputation. Within a month, Buford was a cavalry brigade commander wearing a volunteer brigadier's star in the ill-fated Union Army of Virginia. He performed admirably in the 2nd Bull Run campaign (although he did not hold Thoroughfare Gap at all, much less for 6 hours). Unfortunately his talents were wasted in the next two campaigns as both McClellan and Burnside used Buford in a staff position as "Chief of Cavalry." [54]

Hooker then took over in early '63. That may have been disastrous for the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville but for the mounted army it was a godsend because "Fighting Joe" created the Cavalry Corps. Pleasonton, William Averill, and David Gregg would be the three division commanders and Buford would command the "Reserve" Brigade which consisted of his beloved regulars including the old 2nd Dragoons (now 2nd U.S. Cavalry). [55]

Historians have for years assumed that Buford was "passed over" for division command at the inception of the Cavalry Corps. The common explanation being prejudice against Southern-born officers. I was lucky enough to find the true answer in the National Archives in a forgotten box of letters. Buford asked his old army friend, George Stoneman, the corps commander, in a letter to be assigned only to regulars or "western" troops. He, of course, received the Reserve (mostly regulars) Brigade. (One wonders how Buford viewed his Pennsylvania and New York troopers later after Gettysburg.) The Regulars performed competently in Stoneman's Raid so Buford was finally given a division after Pleasonton was promoted to Corps command and Averill was transferred. [56]

At Brandy Station and in the Loudoun Valley fighting, Buford cemented his image as a cool, competent, steady commander. The stage was set for his greatest role. His division was ordered north from Frederick on the 28th of June to Gettysburg. They were to be there by dark on June 30. [57]

After calmly hanging a suspected spy, Buford spent the 29th marching north into Pennsylvania. For some unexplained reason he went off his ordered route veering west through Monterey Springs, and went into camp at Fountaindale, Pennsylvania. It could be assumed here that he wisely wanted to check the Cumberland Valley for Lee's Army. And Buford had the type of relationship with Pleasonton where he could take latitude with his orders. At dusk, Buford and his officers crested a ridge known as Jack's Mountain and the whole situation was laid out before them. [58]

Today, the spot is an expensive housing development called strangely "Carroll Valley" where retired general officers and well-to-do businessmen live. But the view is still magnificent and to understand Buford's mindset one must stand on Jack's Mountain and see what he saw on that fateful evening. In the valley below him was the town of Fairfield. Eight miles beyond was his objective, Gettysburg. To the right a small mountain (modern Ski Liberty) blocked the view but further south was Emmitsburg, Maryland, which three Union infantry corps under John Reynolds were closing on. Their dust clouds would have been plainly visible. As the sun was setting the veteran dragoon scanned the horizon to the east and said to his subordinates, "Within forty-eight hours the concentration of both armies will take place within view and a great battle will be fought." [59]

How did he know? To this day it is a bit of a mystery. The First Division commander, however, was not a mystic. He had patrols out and it could be assumed that he had his own network of spies in the Gettysburg campaign since he had used this technique the year before at 2nd Manassas. His reports are filled with intelligence from "friendly negroes." [60] It can be assumed that the Rebels brought their slaves with them onto the free soil of Pennsylvania, and that a significant number took the opportunity to run away and expose their former masters. Whatever the source of Buford's insight, he was exactly right. It would be only thirty-six hours until the greatest and bloodiest battle in American history.

But Buford's reconnaissance was not perfect. He failed to detect two regiments of Confederate infantry straight ahead of him in Fairfield. Dawn, June 30, came wrapped in fog as do many summer days in this part of the country. Buford's Division (minus Merritt's Brigade): 2,750 troopers and a battery of regular horse artillery rode off Jack's Mountain toward the sleepy hamlet of Fairfield enroute to his objective. But his lead elements ran into the Mississippi and North Carolina infantrymen of A.P. Hill's Corps and a lively skirmish ensued. [61]

This is where Buford showed his calm leadership skill. Instead of getting involved in what could have been a pitched battle, he remembered his orders and immediately withdrew back into Maryland to Emmitsburg where he could turn north and get to Gettysburg. He had scouted the route to Emmitsburg from Jack's Mountain the night before. What would Custer or Kilpatrick have done in the same situation? We know what Stuart did in almost the same situation on that same day in Hanover. After a chance encounter there, the Gray Cavalier would spend the entire day fighting Kilpatrick for no apparent logical reason. But Buford was the right man at the right time and used discretion instead of valor. It was a Plains Indian dictum to fight only when you had an advantage. Whether Buford used this lesson in the war is a matter of speculation, but his combat record would indicate that he had absorbed the hard lessons of the western frontier where fighting for fighting's sake was considered foolish, not brave. [62]

Some interpretations take the "Buford as Indian fighter" theory a bit far. He ordered numerous conventional saber charges during the war. Michael Shaara's Buford in the novel The Killer Angels was based on a 1949 Fletcher Pratt essay which unfortunately contained many historical errors. In Shaara's defense, however, the character of Buford was captured very well in the novel. [63]

There exists no concrete evidence that Buford physically spoke to Left Wing Commander John Reynolds on that morning of the 30th. But it would be hard to believe that the veteran cavalryman would pass by Reynolds' Headquarters along the Emmitsburg Road without conferring with the man who would have to back him up. In an 1880s account Captain James Hall, who commanded the 2nd Maine Light Artillery Battery, remembered that he saw Buford and Reynolds talking on the morning of the 1st of July at Reynolds' Headquarters near Emmitsburg. Obviously, Buford was in Gettysburg at that time. I believe this is indirect proof of a face-to-face conference between the two generals, and that Hall was mistaken about the day. He was confusing the morning of the 30th and 1st. I adhere to the theory then that the scenario where Reynolds would come to Buford's assistance the next day was worked out ahead of time. Again, this shows the clear-headed leadership of John Buford who shared many of his personality traits with Reynolds. Both were thorough professionals. First Corps Artillery Chief Charles Wainwright stated in his journal that the two were exactly alike. So whether by fate or Meade's foresight, two competent professionals, Buford and Reynolds, were closest to Lee's Army the day before the great battle would begin. [64]

The 1st Cavalry Division arrived in Gettysburg half a day early at almost noon, June 30. A Confederate infantry brigade (Pettigrew's) foraging for supplies immediately withdrew from the Lutheran Seminary area and backtracked west to A.P. Hill's concentration at Cashtown. So we can assume that Buford knew that a Rebel infantry brigade alone on northern soil meant that Lee was definitely heading toward Gettysburg. At this point, historians spew forth theories about what Buford saw and thought in and around Gettysburg on the 30th of June. [65]

Here is what we know factually. Buford set up his headquarters at the Eagle Hotel, a large stone structure at the corner of Washington and Chambersburg Streets. He jailed a suspected spy, issued a flyer forbidding merchants from selling his troopers alcohol, impressed supplies from a local baker, and was seen on his horse wearing an old blue hunting jacket in front of the Eagle looking west. That is about it. Colonel William Gamble's Brigade was sent west of town, elements of which shadowed Pettigrew. Colonel Thomas Devin scouted the area north of town. We do not really know where Buford went on that day. Did he visit Cemetery or Culp's Hill? Was he out on Herr's Ridge or even McPherson's Ridge? All of this is a mystery and is really a moot point. [66]

I believe (and this is purely theory as are all interpretations of Buford on the 30th at Gettysburg) that Buford's primary concern initially was the road intersection. Cavalry by doctrine protects road intersections, so that their own army can concentrate and the opposing army cannot. But this is not as dramatic as "the high ground," to quote Sam Elliott's gravelly voice. The north-south ridges northwest of town (McPherson's, Oak, Seminary, Whisler's, Herr's, Belmont School House) protect the road intersection, not Cemetery Hill. If Buford's only concern was the "fish-hook" (the fish-hook is Culp's Hill, Cemetery Hill and Ridge, and the Round Tops), why did he place none of his troopers there? Plain and simply, Gamble west of town, and Devin north of town, were situated to deny the Rebels Gettysburg, not the hills south of it. Buford fails to mention Cemetery Hill in his official report and talks of defending the town instead. [67]

Does this mean that Buford was not aware of at least Cemetery Hill and ridge? Absolutely not; as a matter of fact some evidence has surfaced recently which directly links Buford with Cemetery Ridge. This is the only primary source where Buford acknowledges any part of the "fish-hook." All other references have been historians theorizing about Buford's thinking. After the war, Regular Army Colonel Frank Wheaton, who was a good friend of Buford's and an infantry brigade and division commander at Gettysburg recalled

I never thought General Buford received due credit for his services. One of General Reynolds' staff told me that he was present when Reynolds joined Buford at Gettysburg and saw Buford point out Cemetery Ridge to Reynolds as a proper position for our troops in case Lee should concentrate on the front his advance was then holding. Lee did so concentrate and the Union forces fought the Battle of Gettysburg on the ground indicated by General Buford... [68]

So surely, Buford's professional eye noticed Cemetery Hill, but in reality it would be: (take your pick) 1) Reynolds, or 2) O.O. Howard, who selected Cemetery Hill as a defensive position. So in the end I believe Buford simply demonstrated his cavalry savvy and professionalism. 1) He rode into Gettysburg and saw Confederate infantry alone on northern soil: thus Lee was converging here. 2) Gettysburg was the best concentration point in the entire area for the Union Army and the Rebels. 3) There was a beautiful piece of defensive ground, Cemetery and Culp's Hill and Cemetery Ridge, overlooking that concentration point. 4) And finally, the ridges northwest of town offered good defensive ground to delay Hill's and Longstreet's Corps coming from Chambersburg and Cashtown. However, north of town the terrain was flat and open and Buford would be vulnerable from the north and east.

At some point on the 30th of June, Buford made up his mind. His 2,750 troopers would fight outside of Gettysburg. He did not have to do this. If he had ridden out of town and rejoined Reynolds, would anything have been said? No, the battle would simply have been fought somewhere on the Mason-Dixon line. If one examines some of the incredibly indecisive moves by the multitude of Civil War commanders on innumerable battlefields, had Buford done only this one thing, he would still stand as one of the great leaders of the war.

Then there are the intelligence reports he sent in the late hours of the last day in June to Reynolds and Pleasonton. I will not quote them here, but they very simply pin down the exact location of the Rebel army (with the exception of Stuart). A modern day satellite could not have done any better. This stands as one of the great masterpieces of reconnaissance of the entire war. Buford also asked by what route he should fall back. But it was obvious that he wanted to hold his position as indicated by direct quotes from the man himself. [69]

His signal officer Aaron B. Jerome said that his commander stated that "the battle would be fought at that point [Gettysburg]..." and that he (Buford) was "afraid it would commence in the morning before the infantry could get up." Jerome also quotes Buford as saying, "The enemy must know the importance of this point and will strain every nerve to secure it, and if we are able to hold it we will do well." [70]

Later during the fighting on July 1, an officer heard Buford tell Colonel Thomas Devin "This is the key to the army position. We must hold this, if it costs every man in our command." And to horse artillerist Lt. John Calef, "Our men are in a pretty hot pocket, but my boy, we must hold this position until the infantry comes up." [71]

These are not words of a man who was indecisive or planned to pull back at the first shot. He felt that the area around Gettysburg was the place to fight and did everything in his power to insure that the battle occurred there.

Many interpreters of "Buford's Defense" on July 1 credit the dragoon with an elaborate plan of a "defense in depth." I wrote in 1983 in Infantry Magazine an article saying just that and others have parroted that theory. However, upon closer study, we do not know what Buford was planning. The preparation on the evening before the battle was typical cavalry disposition. There is a great deal of evidence that in reality Gamble and Devin set up most of Buford's troopers on July 1. Buford did not, that we know of, go north of town with Devin. Gamble claimed in 1864 that he alone set up his brigade northwest of town. Whoever planned it, it worked and the division commander deserves much of the credit.

Historian and fellow Licensed Battlefield Guide Gary Kross, in a recent issue of Blue and Gray gives an excellent description of Buford's seven-mile long vidette line which was designed to give him early warning of a Rebel appearance. At about 7:30 a.m., July 1, Marcellus Jones fired his famous shot and Captain Daniel Buck's squadron of the 8th Illinois began to fall back slowly over the mile of ground now occupied by Oak Lawn Cemetery between Whisler's and Belmont Schoolhouse/Herr Ridge. Buford was probably still at his headquarters at the Eagle but went to the front immediately. He showed his usual savvy and aggressiveness by dispatching 400-800 of Gamble's men west out to Herr Ridge from McPherson's Ridge. These troopers initiated the first heavy skirmishing and caused General Harry Heth's Rebel Division to deploy. But the fact that Buford dispatched Gamble to Herr's Ridge instead of already having him there would seem to go against the theory of pre-planned defense in depth. [72]

Although Buford may have had some sort of plan in his mind the facts support this scenario:

1) He posted his vidette line (probably not personally);

2) In the morning he woke up at the Eagle, walked outside, and the battle started;

3) He rode out to Gamble's camp between McPherson's and Seminary Ridge and sent Gamble's force out to Herr/Belmont School House Ridge and then set up Gamble and some of Devin's men on McPherson's Ridge.

This does not diminish Buford's role at all, but adds to it, showing him to be flexible and able to react to the surprises or "frictions" of combat. (Alas, I have just been informed that there is an article about to be published in a military journal praising Buford's "Defense in Depth".)

Many historical accounts, the novel The Killer Angels, and the film Gettysburg all portray Buford's fight on McPherson's Ridge as a bloody last ditch, Thermopylae-like stand. The facts do not support this. Heth's two Rebel brigades, Archer and Davis, pushed the blue troopers steadily back and Buford's men were about to be brushed aside when the Federal infantry arrived. Buford's contribution in the morning of July 1 was the two and one-half hours he delayed Heth while Reynolds came to the rescue. No Rebel advance was stopped or repulsed by Buford on the morning of July 1 and I estimate it took less than 15 minutes for Archer and Davis to push the horse soldiers off of McPherson's Ridge. But valuable time had been purchased. [73]

One piece of tactical wizardry that "Honest John" did display was his use of his lone horse artillery battery. Lieutenant John Calef set up all six guns originally along the Chambersburg Pike. Buford told him to send a section one-third mile south and Calef dispatched Sergeant Charles Pergel's Section. This "spread" deployment gave the illusion of a larger and stronger defense and may have caused Archer's Tennessee and Alabamians to split up attempting to take Pergel's section. This led to disaster for the Rebels as the Iron Brigade hit Archer at this "split" or gap where he was most vulnerable. [74]

The first Reynolds/Buford meeting on the field, despite what Edwin Coddington says, took place with Buford in the cupola of the Lutheran Seminary Dormitory. The author of the definitive The Gettysburg Campaign discounts Lt. Aaron Jerome's testimony of the Reynolds/Buford initial conference. Coddington accepts Sgt. Charles Veil's version. Veil, a Reynolds' orderly, says they met on the field of battle on Mcpherson's Ridge. I personally believe Jerome's version, which has Buford in the cupola of the Seminary Dormitory. If anyone doubts the hardened, cynical nature of John Buford his first words to Reynolds were "The Devil's to pay!" In other words, "General Reynolds, things are all screwed up as usual." The tough cavalryman's almost insubordinate remark is a far cry from the usual cavalier greeting one reads of so often in Civil War accounts. [75]

So Gamble's Brigade was relieved by the infantry at approximately 10:00 a.m. and it is at this point that Buford disappears from the Battle of Gettysburg in many accounts. Yet the day was far from over for him, and in fact his men would do their heaviest fighting in the afternoon. Devin's troopers to the north, although lightly engaged, did an excellent job of skirmishing with Ewell's Corps and in fact alerted Howard at 11:00 a.m. of the danger from the north. Obviously Howard ignored this intelligence when none examines the Union Eleventh Corps deployment there later in the day. [76]

Gamble's Brigade fought a fierce action south and west of the Lutheran Seminary feinting cavalry charges and utilizing dismounted carbine tactics which stopped an entire brigade of rebel infantry (Lane) and shot down 250 of 750 South Carolinians of Perrin's Brigade. Then Buford skillfully reunited Gamble and Devin on the high ground southwest of Cemetery Hill (where the modern town recreation park is today). His division mounted in battalion formations there may have given Lee pause on that part of the field after 4:00 p.m. Both Generals Hancock and Warren stated as much later. One interesting footnote is Buford's direct and indirect disdain for acting First Corps Commander General Abner Doubleday. Buford sent two dispatches to the rear on July 1, after Doubleday was up, alledging "There seems to be no directing person..." and "Everything is going at odds, Reynolds is killed and we need a controlling spirit." Also adding, "For God's sake send up Hancock." Later when told by one of Doubleday's aides that the infantry commander wanted a mounted cavalry charge Buford replied characteristically "What in hell and damnation does he expect me to do against these long lines of enemy out there." Doubleday's career ended at Gettysburg, and it may have been Buford who played a part in that episode. [77]

After moving off that night to the south in the area of the "Peach Orchard", Buford's men spent the night and participated in skirmishing the next day. And then shortly thereafter the division was ordered by Pleasonton to Westminster to guard the Army's trains. Again, this controversy of Buford's "relief" has been discussed earlier. Let me reiterate that while the logistics-minded Buford may have requested to be removed, there is no direct evidence of this and the responsibility lies with Pleasonton and Meade. [78]

So John Buford had found his crossroads and paid his dues to the Devil. He selected the general area of the great battle that would stop Lee and change history. Before and during the fight he displayed superior reconnaissance and tactical skills. There were many great cavalry leaders in the war. But I challenge anyone to produce an example of a more competent and useful use of mounted troops than Buford's magic trick at Gettysburg. He sent perfect intelligence reports and manoeuvered his squadrons, regiments, batteries, and brigades like a master chess player. And he did it while losing only 150 men (and remember he only had two of his three brigades with him). Is the sign of good leadership losing all your men, or accomplishing the mission with the least number of casualties? Buford did not lose many troopers, but his accomplishments rank with the greatest in American military history.


John Buford was blessed at Gettysburg with two of the most competent mounted brigade commanders in either army: Colonels William Gamble and Thomas Devin. His third brigade, under Brigadier General Wesley Merritt, another outstanding cavalryman, was detached on the 1st of July. We will discuss him later.

Thomas Devin

Forty-year-old Thomas Devin would emerge from the Civil War as one of its premier cavalry division commanders. U.S. Grant would later say that, with the exception of Phil Sheridan, Devin was the finest cavalry officer in the service. He was a former New York City house painter and militia officer who had originally commanded the 6th New York Cavalry and had risen to command the brigade at Gettysburg. His work there was solid as he was left on his own north of the town on the 1st of July. He effective intelligence and delayed Ewell's Corps near the Cobean Farm when arrived on the field. He split his brigade to help Gamble, reunited them, then moved to cover the Eleventh Corps' right flank along the York Pike during the Thomas Devin afternoon. However, Barlow's Federal Division advanced in a controversial move that would end in disaster. Devin did not advance with Barlow. There are two possibilities for this "failure." First, Devin did not know Barlow was going to move forward and foolishly expose his right to Early's Division coming down the Harrisburg Road (whom Devin had reported approaching hours earlier). Secondly, Devin saw the uselessness of the advance and decided not to participate in the debacle. [79]

Devin's men fought their way back through town after the Eleventh Corps' rout and reunited with Buford and Gamble southwest of Gettysburg. It could be argued that Buford's trust in Devin's ability handed the New Yorker his independent assignment. Devin's men also were sent forward on picket duty on the night of the 1st west of the Peach Orchard, and participated in the Berdan sharpshooter skirmish with Wilcox's Alabama Infantry Brigade the next day. [80]

Buford spent most of the battle on the 1st west of town with Gamble. There the division experienced its heaviest action. (Gamble lost 100 men, Devin 23.) And although Devin received the lion's share of Civil War glory due to his rise to division command, Colonel William Gamble's performance at Gettysburg easily matched Buford himself. It was Gamble's finest moment. [81]

William Gamble

Colonel Gamble was a forty-five year old former U.S. Dragoon (enlisted). Born in Ireland, he was chosen to be lieutenant colonel of the 8th Illinois Cavalry when it was raised. He later survived a serious wound on the Peninsula, and would eventually command the regiment and brigade. In an 1864 letter, Gamble claimed that he individually positioned his brigade west of McPherson's Ridge on the evening of the 30th. On the morning of the 1st his brigade would do an excellent job delaying Heth, falling back slowly over a two-mile stretch until a final stand was made on McPherson's Ridge. [82]

But it was in the afternoon of July 1 where the Irish Colonel would shine the brightest, although he receives little credit for this. He positioned Major John Beveridge's 8th Illinois on the Fairfield (Hagerstown) Road poised directly on the flank of Heth and then Pender's Rebel Division.

Beveridge would later feint a cavalry charge which stopped Lane's North Carolina Brigade dead in their tracks. Gamble had positioned his other three regiments south of the seminary: half dismounted behind a north-south stone wall (which still can be seen) and half mounted southwest of the McMillan House. The dismounted troopers shot down one-third of the 12th and 13th South Carolina infantry regiments as they advanced, and the mounted force kept Lane from participating in the battle at all. Finally, Gamble withdrew his men back to the high ground southwest of Cemetery Hill. It is possible that Gamble's Brigade was the last Union force to retreat on July 1. His protection of the left flank of the shattered First Infantry Corps very well may have saved Doubleday's remnants. [83]

William Gamble was shuffled off to a staff position in the Cavalry Bureau in 1864 and was forgotten. He died of cholera on his way to join his regular Army regiment in 1866 and is buried in Nicaragua of all places. Thomas Devin emerged from the war a legitimate hero and served in the post-war U.S. Cavalry finally commanding the 3rd U.S. Cavalry. But at Gettysburg it was William Gamble who truly was Buford's right-hand man. Without him, the division may not have been able to perform anywhere near as well on that immortal July 1. [84]


At regimental level Buford's Division was possibly the strongest of all three in the Cavalry Corps. Major John Beveridge of the 8th Illinois (a regiment that produced six Generals during the war) could legitimately be considered most valuable colonel of the entire battle. Of course a popular poll would vote in Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine, but Beveridge performed miracles with his regiment. It was he who did most of the delaying of Heth's advance from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. on July 1, and in the late afternoon his mounted feint would take an entire Rebel infantry brigade out of the fight and cause the destruction of half of another. All this and he lost only one man killed! [85]

Colonel George Chapman who commanded a combined 3rd Indiana/12th Illinois Regiment also was a solid cavalry leader who would go on to command the brigade and perform competently in the great cavalry battles of the late summer and fall of '63. These engagements tend to be overlooked in most Civil War histories. Colonel Josiah Kellogg of the 17th Pennsylvania was a West Pointer ('60) and his regiment performed the bulk of the work north of town on the 1st. (As a matter of fact the 17th's monument at Gettysburg is well over a mile southwest of where they actually fought.) In addition, Colonel William Markell of the 8th New York and Colonel William Sackett of the 9th New York were excellent regimental commanders, and Captain Seymour Conger, who led the single squadron present at Gettysburg of the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry was noted as a savage fighter, and reportedly was never happier than when fighting rebels. Major John Beardsley handled the 6th New York well on the 1st, although they apparently were almost overrun by Davis' Rebel Brigade in the morning fighting. [86]


David Gregg

Many have settled on John Buford as a sort of unsung hero in the battle of Gettysburg. And that may well have been true at one time. But certainly Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels and the film Gettysburg have gone a long way towards restoring his memory. But there is another former dragoon who is to this day totally unknown to most Civil War afficianados. And if anyone fits the term "unsung hero" it is the man who commanded the 2nd Cavalry Division at Gettysburg, Brigadier General David McMurtrie Gregg.

David Gregg Gregg, a Pennsylvanian, graduated from West Point in 1855, and spent most of his pre-war years in the 1st U.S. Dragoons stationed at the Pacific Northwest. He saw intense combat against the Paloise, Cour D'Alene and Spokane tribes, and one historian credits Gregg with personally saving his command in the "Steptoe" battle of 1858. Ironically his best army friend was young Lieutenant Dorsey Pender who would receive his mortal wound at Gettysburg, fighting as a Confederate general. [87]

At the outbreak of the war, Gregg spent some time in the newly formed 3rd/6th U.S. Cavalry but eventually was appointed volunteer colonel of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Promoted in 1862 to brigadier general, Gregg was given command of the 3rd Division of the Cavalry Corps at its inception and after Brandy Station commanded the 2nd Division until his strange and unexplained resignation in February 1865. One historian in a recent work gives "cowardice" as the reason for his resignation, but everything in Gregg's career from the Indian Wars through the Weldon Railroad campaign in late 1864 goes against this theory. He certainly showed both moral and physical courage east of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. [88]

Between the 29th of June and July 1, 1863, Gregg's Division, which was to screen Meade's eastern advance into Pennsylvania, received a myriad of almost comedic contradictory orders from Pleasonton. It is a tribute to Gregg that he did not explode in anger at his commander, and at about noon July 2 was able to limp his understrengthed and exhausted division into a makeshift camp three miles east of Gettysburg near the Low Dutch Road/Hanover Road intersection. At this point Gregg rode to Pleasonton's Headquarters behind Cemetery Ridge to receive orders. Meanwhile at about 2:00 p.m., General Judson Kilpatrick's 3rd Cavalry Division arrived near the field northeast of town on the York Road. [89]

Gregg was ordered to protect the army's right flank, and upon returning to his division he apparently passed on orders from Pleasonton to Kilpatrick to move further to the right or north on the road from Gettysburg to Abbottstown and protect the far right flank. However, both Gregg and Kilpatrick would attack Rebel forces late in the afternoon; Gregg at Brinkerhoff's Ridge, and Kilpatrick at Hunterstown. Pleasonton's vague orders and nonexistant presence at the scene of any of the cavalry actions were obviously causing some problems. This did, however, allow his subordinates to exercise their initiative and aggressiveness which in the case of David Gregg would work to the Federal's advantage. [90]

Historian Paul Shevchuk's article in an issue of Gettysburg Magazine gives without a doubt the best account of the fight on Brinkerhoff's Ridge on July 2. In that fight Gregg's troopers tangle with the 2nd Virginia Infantry and the result was a stand-off with 17 casualties. The most important thing about this minor skirmish was that both David Gregg and J.E.B. Stuart, who had finally arrived on the field, saw the ground northeast of Brinkerhoff's Ridge. This mostly flat, level terrain would be the scene of the next day's huge mounted engagement known today as East Cavalry Field. It is conceivable that without the fight on Brinkerhoff's Ridge neither Stuart nor Gregg would have ended up there. Certainly not in the case of Gregg, as we shall see. [91]

As darkness fell on July 2 the strange order came from Pleasonton (Meade?) for Gregg and Kilpatrick to concentrate in the army's rear on the Baltimore Pike from White Run Church to Two Taverns. So Gregg's troopers moved south on the Low Dutch Road and went into camp near White Run Church while Kilpatrick's exhausted men straggled into Two Taverns at about dawn. [92]

This is where Gregg earned his money. One of his officers called it "Gregg's Prescience," and prescience it was. On the morning of the 3rd a staff officer from Pleasonton arrived and ordered Gregg to protect the right flank of the army by directly connecting with the infantry on Wolf's Hill. This would have put Gregg's men between Rock Creek and the present day intersection of the Baltimore Pike and Interstate Route 15. Kilpatrick was ordered to the army's left southwest of Big Round Top. But the 2nd Division commander had noticed the open, level area around the Low Dutch Road/Hanover Road intersection and felt that Stuart could use it to his advantage. In fact Stuart was moving in that direction to (in the Beau Sabeur's words) effect "a surprise on the enemy's rear." One of the myths of Gettysburg is that Stuart was to cooperate with Pickett's Charge. There is no evidence of this. Lee never ordered such a thing and it is doubtful that Stuart knew of Pickett's Charge. [93]

So Gregg argued with the aide and sent him back to the Corps Commander requesting to be able to move farther north and east. Luckily, Pleasonton assented and gave permission for Gregg to take one of Kilpatrick's brigades also. Whether by design or luck, Custer's Michigan Brigade had failed to move out with Kilpatrick and was still at Two Taverns, so they were sent north up the Low Dutch Road toward the "East Cavalry Field". Gregg used Colonel John Irvin Gregg's (his cousin) Brigade to connect with the infantry and sent Colonel John McIntosh's troopers following Custer. This showed excellent planning and covered all tactical possibilities. [94]

One interesting question here is why was Custer left behind, and how did Pleasonton know that there would be a brigade from Kilpatrick's to detach? By all rights Custer should have been near Big Round Top. This has never been and probably never will be explained. But it is possible that Gregg and Custer worked this out ahead of time. Kilpatrick called it a "mistake". [95]

The fight on the East Cavalry Field is certainly the most famous mounted combat at Gettysburg. One of the reasons, and perhaps the reason, is that George Armstrong Custer led a brigade there. But it was David Gregg who commanded the blue horse. In the summer of 1996 there was a reenactment of this action and the promoters called it "Custer vs. Stuart". The largest monument on the field is the Michigan Brigade monument with Custer's bust on the front. Without David Gregg, though, Custer may not have gotten his legendary start. Gregg's statue in Reading, Pennsylvania is now a neglected memory.

The quiet, unassuming Gregg fought well on July 3. He was outnumbered, maybe 2 to 1, and he battled the premier Confederate horse soldiers led by Stuart, Wade Hampton, John Chambliss, and Fitzhugh Lee to a standstill. With one exception, he positioned his mounted and dismounted units perfectly, as well as his horse artillery. At critical times he launched devastating mounted counterattacks, most notably Custer's two personally-led charges with the 7th and 1st Michigan Cavalry. And when Pleasonton ordered Custer back to Kilpatrick in the middle of the fight, Gregg kept the young brigadier where he was needed. Twice he defied Pleasonton which took great moral courage.

Every commander needs luck and Gregg was fortunate on the field that day. He moved the 1st Maryland Cavalry completely off the field at a critical moment to guard a flank that was already covered. But Custer's crucial final charge along with some of McIntosh's heroics, stopped Stuart's troopers in the end. Gregg had fought the "Invincibles" to a standstill while outnumbered, so his tactical error went unnoticed.

At Gettysburg, David Gregg brought his men to the field as quickly as possible despite their exhaustion and confusing orders from Pleasonton. He was aggressive and observant on July 2nd at Brinkerhoff's Ridge and on that fateful 3rd day he did about as well as any cavalry leader of the war could have. Yet sadly his memory is eclipsed by Buford and the youngest general (up until that time) in the history of the U.S. Army. And so the East Cavalry Field, which was shaped in total by the decisions and tactical deployment of David McMurtrie Gregg, remains in popular memory the place where George Armstrong Custer began his ride on the shooting star that would come crashing down thirteen years later.


George Armstrong Custer

Prior to 1974 the most famous Union cavalryman at Gettysburg was Custer, no doubt about that. And the argument could be made that he still holds that title. However, Michael Shaara and Sam Elliott certainly have put "Honest" John Buford in the running. But the fact remains that the long-haired, red-scarfed man with the rock-star persona is possibly the most written about military figure in history. And he refuses to die. Michael Blake's (Dance's With Wolves) new novel Marching to Valhalla about Custer will no doubt be a movie. The fascination with Custer will never end. Long after Custer's critics are buried his name will still be spoken either with reverence or vitriolic hatred.

I will not dwell long on Custer and please excuse me that I speak of him out of order. His brigade was in Kilpatrick's Division. But he was the man who did the lion's share of the fighting on the East Cavalry Field under Gregg. But his true first battle as a commander had occurred in the days before. At Hanover on June 30 he had shown extraordinary leadership. His brigade had been split in two parts; half in Abbottstown, the other two regiments in Littlestown. In between had been Elon Farnsworth's Brigade in Hanover whom J.E.B. Stuart had attacked from the south. Custer rode quickly southwest to the scene with the 1st and 7th Michigan Cavalry and united them with the 5th and 6th Michigan who had come from the west. He promptly dismounted the 6th and successfully pushed back Stuart's troopers southwest of town with minimal casualties. [96]

Two days later, he led his first mounted charge at Hunterstown as Kilpatrick's Division clashed with Wade Hampton's Rebels. Many historians have been critical of his rash charge with 50 men of Co. A, 6th Michigan which suffered over 50% casualties and almost prematurely ended Custer's life. But from a leadership perspective, Custer personally leading a futile charge, paid huge dividends. There is no substitute for personal example. From Hunterstown on, his Wolverines and later his 3rd Division knew when the charge was ordered their commander would be in the van. And they never hesitated. They couldn't hesitate. One historian has intimated that Custer felt shame for Hunterstown. I would absolutely disagree. I know no more of what was in his mind than any historian. But if I had to bet, I would wager that he was proud of that charge at Hunterstown. [97]

Two other notes on Hunterstown worth mentioning. Custer's tactical disposition there with his regiments was very sound and his dismounted 6th and 7th Michigan troopers shot up a squadron of Cobb's Legion in short order exacting revenge for Co. A's losses. Secondly, some historians have stated that it was Kilpatrick who ordered Custer to charge at Hunterstown. I have never been able to unearth any primary source evidence of this. In my opinion the charge up the Hunterstown Road was pure George Custer. [98]

The next day came, Custer's first large scale battle and it would be the cornerstone of his legendary career. The common perception of the "boy general" is that he was rash and impulsive. And of course he was at times. But when he moved onto the field at about 10:00 a.m. July 3 his preparations could not have been bettered by John Buford himself. He threw out patrols who located Stuart's approaching columns, and set up an "L" shaped defense that took every tactical possibility into consideration. He countered dismounted assaults with the 5th Michigan, and then personally led two of the greatest mounted regimental charges in American history with the 7th and 1st Michigan. Gregg was the brains behind the East Cavalry Field but Custer provided the muscle. His brigade saved Gregg and it suffered 250 of the 300 Federal casualties that day as well as one-third of all Union Cavalry casualties in the entire battle. [99]

Custer fanatics ignore the fact that he did bear a tremendous amount of the responsibility for the debacle at Little Big Horn in 1876. No amount of hero worship can erase the facts. But, conversely, Custer's less than successful Indian fighting career should not eclipse another fact. And that is that he was one of the great Civil War cavalry commanders. And on the East Cavalry Field he gave a grand performance of pure savage, head-down fighting. To this observer, it is just as easy to admire Buford's and Gregg's professional, cool-headed style as it is Custer's ancient warrior charisma. In battle, you need both styles and there are times when Custer was just what the doctor ordered. At Williamsport, Maryland on July 6, 1863, John Buford, with a 3 to 1 advantage, hesitated to attack and lost a great opportunity to cut off Lee's Army from the Potomac. (No, Buford was not superhuman.) If that had been Custer, the war may have been over. On the other hand could young Custer have pulled off Buford's trick on June 30 and July 1? Probably not, and luckily the two were perfectly suited to the situation they faced at Gettysburg. It is possible to admire both Buford and Custer.


The 2nd Division of the Cavalry Corps consisted of three brigades of which only two were present at Gettysburg with Gregg. Colonel Pennock Huey's Brigade was detached to guard wagon trains in Westminster. The two brigades that staggered, exhausted, into the makeshift camps east of Gettysburg on the 2nd totaled only 2500 troopers. But they were for the most part veterans and were led by two excellent cavalry officers: Colonels John McIntosh and John Irvin Gregg.

John McIntosh

McIntosh was one of the best cavalry leaders of the war although he remains unknown to this day. He was the son of Regular Army Lieutenant Colonel James McIntosh who was killed in the Mexican War. (Ironically J.E.B. Stuart had been stationed at Fort McIntosh, Texas, which was named for the dead colonel). John was, strangely enough, a sailor during the same war his father had lost his life. At the outbreak of the Civil War, probably because of his father, he was commissioned into the 2nd (5th) U.S. Cavalry where he served for a year and a half until finally receiving a volunteer commission as colonel of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry. He fought well at Kelly's Ford and Chancellorsville and was senior Colonel in the brigade commanding it at Gettysburg. The tough McIntosh (whose brother was killed at Pea Ridge as a Confederate general) was a star on the East Cavalry Field (unfortunately eclipsed by Custer) and would lose his leg at Winchester in 1864 and rise to major general of volunteers. After the war the one-legged McIntosh served in the Regular Army Infantry until 1870. [100]

His performance on July 3 was outstanding, but not quite as dramatic as Custer's. His 1st New Jersey and 3rd Pennsylvania fought well mounted and dismounted. The battalions of Captain James Hart's New Jerseyans, and William Miller's Pennsylvanians both played huge roles in stopping the final Confederate mounted assaults. And Major Hugh Janeway's battalion of the 1st New Jersey along with Captains Charles Treichel and James Rogers squadrons of the 3rd Pennsylvania fought savagely on foot against Major Vincent Witcher's dismounted Virginians in the opening stages of the East Cavalry Field fighting. [101]

McIntosh showed his true grit on the field when despite being seriously ill he remained in the saddle. Through no fault of McIntosh's, his 3rd regiment, the 1st Maryland, was removed by Gregg at a critical time. But in the great mounted climax, he was not really outdone by Custer. With just his staff the gallant colonel charged into the fray and mixed it up saber to saber with Rebels. [102]

The Michigan Brigade and Custer received, and to a certain degree deserve, much of the glory gained that day. But Colonel John McIntosh and his understrength troopers certainly should receive more credit than they do. General William Averill felt that McIntosh had no equal as a cavalry leader. That may be an exaggeration but John McIntosh may have been the most underrated and overlooked mounted leader at Gettysburg and of the war. His father would certainly have been proud of him. [103]

John Irvin Gregg

David Gregg's other brigade was led by his first cousin, Colonel John Irvin Gregg, called "Long John" because of his tall stature. J.I. Gregg was another solid, dependable, unsung cavalry leader who gets little publicity. He had been a volunteer enlisted infantryman and regular Army infantry officer in the Mexican War, and then was assigned as a captain in the same regular Army cavalry regiment (the 3rd/6th U.S.) as his cousin David at the Civil War's outset. He was appointed volunteer colonel of the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry in 1862, was breveted for bravery at Kelly's Ford, and had performed creditably at Brandy Station and in the Loudoun Valley. Although never achieving true general's rank in the Civil War, despite rising to division command, Gregg's (he was breveted volunteer brigade general) post-war regular army career was successful as he rose to be the colonel of the 8th U.S. Cavalry on the frontier (a higher rank than Custer ever achieved). [104]

At Gettysburg, his performance was solid, although he missed most of the battle. His 10th New York fought well on Brinkerhoff's Ridge on July 2, but on the 3rd day his brigade was not engaged but used to connect the East Cavalry Field with the infantry on Wolf's Hill. But the competence of John Irvin Gregg was another example of just how far the Union cavalry had progressed in two years.


David Gregg's regimental commanders were not particularly notable with two exceptions: Colonel Myron Beaumont and Major Hugh Janeway of the 1st New Jersey Cavalry. Beaumont had the reputation of being a coward and in fact was strangely "ill" on the East Cavalry Field. On the other hand Major Hugh Janeway was as courageous as they come being wounded over a dozen times in the war, finally catching his final minie in the brain just days before Lee surrendered at Appomattox. On the East Cavalry Field his two battalions dueled with Witcher's dismounted riflemen and no doubt Janeway was walking the lines exposing himself. Whenever I drive by the beautiful monument to the 1st New Jersey I always give a silent salute to Janeway, who in a sense, represents all the American soldiers who were incredibly brave, yet are not remembered today. [105]

Much of what we know today of the East Cavalry Field comes from the post-war written accounts of two officers of McIntosh's 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry. Captain William Miller led a squadron, perhaps a battalion, that hit Hampton's and Lee's horsemen in the flank during the final mounted charge. Miller claimed this assault turned the tide in the battle and that the charge carried them to the Rummel Farm. He wrote a very eloquent and moving account of the fight that appeared in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. After the war Miller would be awarded the Medal of Honor for this assault. (He is the only Medal of Honor recipient from the battle buried in the National Cemetery at Gettysburg.) [106]

Lieutenant William Brooke-Rawle was 19 years old on the East Cavalry Field. He claimed later that Miller disobeyed orders to defend Lott's Woods and charged instead, sort of a cavalry version of Joshua Chamberlain. And like Chamberlain, Brooke-Rawle was a great writer. His "Right Flank at Gettysburg" that appeared in the Philadelphia Weekly Times in the 1870s was a classic. It is important to remember, however, that Miller's and Brooke-Rawle's accounts of the battle have been disputed by other members of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, the Confederate participants and Custer's Wolverines. Whatever happened, Miller and Brooke-Rawle's written accounts have been a mighty influence on the history of the East Cavalry Field. [107]


The commander of the 3rd Division/Cavalry Corps is one of the most maligned leaders of the Civil War. A close examination of Judson Kilpatrick's combat record, however, will reveal that he was, in fact, an above-average cavalry officer. Again, as with Pleasonton, he is usually dismissed with a few lines much as he was "vain, and glory-seeking." The reality is that many cavalry officers fit that description.

Judson Kilpatrick

No doubt Kilpatrick was linked to numerous dishonest acts, actually spending some time in prison early in the war for a financial indiscretion. And he was quite the ladies man, literally being caught with his pants down late in the war by Wade Hampton. But if one examines his record in battle, his was a successful career. If you want to say Kilpatrick was immoral, then you would be right. But don't judge his ability to fight based on that. Sherman personally asked for Kilpatrick to lead his mounted forces during the march to the sea describing "Kil" as "skillful and prudent". Sherman would not have requested an incompetant for the job.

Kilpatrick graduated from the Point in the spring class of 1861. He was wounded as an infantry officer (the first regular officer wounded in the war) at Big Bethel. He became the Colonel of the 2nd New York Cavalry which performed well in the early years of the war. And then at Brandy Station, his brigade made some of the more dramatic mounted charges up the legendary Fleetwood Heights. Shortly thereafter Pleasonton created three divisions from the original two and with his usual anti-foreign bent fired Hungarian General Julius Stahel and replaced him with the newly promoted Brigadier General Kilpatrick on June 28. "Kil" would command the 3rd Division with its two brigades led by Brigadier Generals George Custer and Elon Farnsworth. With the "old man" at 27 and Farnsworth and Custer at 25 and 23, respectively, this certainly was the American combat division with the youngest chain of command in history. [108]

Usually when Kilpatrick is described by historians, Captain Charles Francis Adams is trotted out and the reader is subjected to the snotty blueblood's inane commentary. Kilpatrick is a "brave, injudicious boy, much given to blowing and who will merely come to grief." Notice that Adams had to add "brave" despite his dislike of Kilpatrick [109]

What you rarely hear are the dozens of good reviews of Kilpatrick written by men who served with him. Cavalry historian Bruce Venter is presently working on a biography of Kilpatrick and even I was amazed at the positive accolades for "Kill-Cavalry" that he has compiled. Space will not permit me here to list them all but here is a sampling:

1) Surgeon Moore of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry noted "Kilpatrick's success depended on the care he took of his men...[and] was augmented by the animated and cheerful manner in which he addressed them on an emergency on the field of battle. There was, too, his rare knowledge of men, and acquaintance with human nature."

2) Captain Williard Glazier of the 2nd New York Cavalry: "He is certainly an orator as well as a warrior. He speaks, too, as he fights, with dash and daring...the men have him for his personal attention to their wants, and for his appreciation of their labors. If he gives us hard work to do in march or battle, he endures or shares with us the hardship...His plans are quickly made and executed while all possible contingencies seem to have been foreseen."

3) Captain Parsons of the 1st Vermont who was badly wounded in Farnsworth's Charge which was ordered by Kilpatrick also had high praise for the Division Commander. [110]

So it appears that not everyone agrees with Captain Adams' negative assessment.

At Hanover on June 30, Kilpatrick earned his nickname and actually performed quite well in this little known cavalry battle which may have had far-reaching implications. When J.E.B. Stuart's three brigades ran into the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry just southwest of town, Kilpatrick spurred his horse from the Pigeon Hills northeast of Hanover into the town square whereupon his horse died; thus "Kill-Cavalry." He promptly and efficiently counterattacked with Farnsworth and then Custer's Brigade and drove the gray troopers back. At this point, Stuart could have linked up with Lee's main body had he turned east. But Kilpatrick's resistance in Hanover forced Stuart northeast guaranteeing that he would not join Lee before the battle began. One could make the argument that Buford's decision at Gettysburg and Kilpatrick's fight at Hanover on June 30 helped shape the battle to come. Meade would know where Lee was, but Lee would not know the whereabouts of the Union main body. [111]

Kilpatrick then spent the next day vainly searching for Stuart and then received his orders to move to Gettysburg where he linked up with Gregg on the afternoon of July 2, three miles east of the town. Here he received Pleasonton's vague orders about protecting the right flank. At this point, he either was reckless and impulsive or was aggressive and daring depending on your point of view. He rode with his division north up present day Coleman Road and his lead brigade, Custer's Michigan Cavalry Brigade, rammed into the tail end of Wade Hampton's troopers in the town of Hunterstown. Custer immediately pushed the Cobb Legion out of town to the southwest, deployed his Wolverines to the left and right of the Hunterstown Road and then immediately ordered the ill-fated mounted charge that was discussed earlier. Some historians have stated that Kilpatrick ordered this charge but there is no evidence of this, and it appears that it was Custer's idea. [112]

Either way, after dark on July 2, Kilpatrick was ordered south to Two Taverns which his division reached exhausted at dawn on the 3rd. Pleasonton/Meade ordered "Kil" to the Union left at mid-morning and at this point Kilpatrick could be cited for losing control. As was discussed earlier, he moved out with Farnsworth's Brigade to the area south of Big Round Top but through what Kilpatrick called a "mistake", Custer's Brigade was left behind. This was good news for Gregg who gained the Michigan Brigade's service on the East Cavalry Field but bad for Kilpatrick who received orders at 8:00 a.m. to attack the Rebel right. It must be added that it was ill-advised for Meade or Pleasonton to order this attack if the infantry on the Union left were not going to cooperate. And it's obvious that neither Sykes nor Sedgwick's Corps were given that order. [113]

So that brings us to the "South Cavalry Field" which featured "Farnsworth's Charge." To a man, or woman, every historian who analyzes this action brings the hammer down hard on "Kill-Cavalry." He arrogantly goads Farnsworth into making a foolish charge with the 1st Vermont Cavalry which is doomed to fail and the gallant young brigadier is killed tragically.

Of course, these historians never let the facts get in the way of a good story. First of all, there are two versions of the exchange of orders between Farnsworth and Kilpatrick. Captain Henry Parsons of the 1st Vermont Cavalry whose account is most quoted, says that Farnsworth argued with Kilpatrick and did not want to charge so Kilpatrick challenged Farnsworth's manhood and said if he would not lead the attack Kilpatrick would. Whereupon the doomed cavalryman snapped "Take that back!" and led the attack. But a lesser known version is provided by Major John Bennett of the Vermonters who says that he advised against an attack and that Kilpatrick was not pleased with this. But he says that there was no argument and that Kilpatrick ended it by saying, "Well, somebody can charge" and Farnsworth replied "if anybody can charge, we can, sir". Bennett also denies the story that Kilpatrick said he would lead the charge himself. [114]

Secondly, the ground in the area of Bushman Hill/Slyder Farm was more open in 1863 than it is today. Thus, it was very condusive to cavalry operations. One historian states that Kilpatrick should have dismounted Farnsworth's men to attack. This is the danger in writing about ground you have never walked on, nor are familiar with the wartime conditions of said ground. And if one believes in logic, both the mounted charges of the 1st West Virginia and 1st Vermont succeeded and broke through the weakly defended Rebel lines on July 3. Only a thin line of the survivors of the 1st Texas faced the blue troopers who outnumbered them 4 to 1. Law's Alabama Brigade had to turn around in the opposite direction to fight. What if the Union infantry had attacked west from Big Round Top? Then Farnsworth's Charge may have crushed the right of Longstreet's Corps. [115]

The problem of course is that Farnsworth, a handsome, popular shining star, was killed. Thus Kilpatrick is seen as a cruel butcher. All I can say to that is that all Civil War generals ordered attacks that killed brave officers. I firmly believe that had Farnsworth not died, the charge would be seen as what it truely was: an aggressive, if poorly coordinated cavalry assault. If anyone was at fault it was Pleasonton and Meade for ordering a cavalry attack without infantry support. The Confederate right was incredibly vulnerable on July 3rd, as Longstreet later readily admitted. [116]

Kilpatrick was also given temporary command of Merritt's Reserve Brigade (Buford's Division). They had come straight north up the Emmitsburg Road from the south and ran into G.T. Anderson's Georgia infantry in the vicinity of the Kern House. The area was and still is relatively open. Again the stock analysis here is that Kilpatrick ordered Merritt to dismount. There is no direct evidence that Kilpatrick, Merritt or the regimental commanders, ordered the dismount. Also, there were in fact mounted charges made on Merritt's front. There is no doubt that Kilpatrick had failed to coordinate the assault between Farnsworth and Merritt. But this "theory" that Merritt should have charged mounted while Kilpatrick should have dismounted Farnsworth has little basis in the realities of the battlefield. Farnsworth's mounted charge may have worked while an all-out cavalry charge by Merritt may have succeeded, but it also may have resulted in a slaughter of the regulars in the open fields in front of Anderson's Rebels. [117]

Again, a more interesting scenario would have Buford's Division still on the field cooperating with Kilpatrick. Lee's entire right flank may have collapsed. But again Meade and Pleasonton had the 12,000 man mounted corps spread all over God's creation. Three brigades (Fluey's, Gamble's, Devin's) were guarding the rear. The Cavalry Corps fighting as a single unit was still far on the future.

So, the reality is that arrogant, brash, womanizing Kilpatrick performed unevenly but competently in the battle of Gettysburg. At Hanover, he fought well, and at Flunterstown and the South Cavalry Field, he committed his forces piecemeal and in an uncoordinated fashion but did display aggressiveness and that is what Pleasonton wanted. Buford is not blamed for the death of "Grimes" Davis at Brandy Station or Major Charles Lemon at Gettysburg. Gregg is not held responsible for Major Noah Ferry's death on the East Cavalry Field. Robert E. Lee and Longstreet do not seem to bear any responsibility for the deaths of the Generals Pender, Semmes, Barksdale, Garnett, and Armistead. Yet Kilpatrick, obeying an order, is crucified for the death of a brave general whose attack actually succeeded in breaking through enemy lines, but was not supported by infantry.

Kilpatrick went on to perform competently and bravely in the pursuit of Lee after Gettysburg and in the fall '63 cavalry battles in Virginia (where he led a brilliant charge at Brandy Station in October). He was handpicked by Sherman to lead the cavalry in the March to the Sea. But he is only remembered now as "Kill-Cavalry" and a womanizer. The fact is, he was not one of the premier cavalry commanders of the War. But he was a competent and aggressive division commander and his moral scruples do not erase what he did on the battlefield any more than U.S. Grant's drunken binge before Shiloh eclipse his performance there. Was Kilpatrick the equivalent of U.S. Grant, or Buford, Stuart, or Custer? Of course not; but he did his job better than many if not a majority of Civil War combat leaders. [118]


Elon J. Farnsworth

It is tragic that took most people only remember Brigadier General Elon Farnsworth for the modern restaurant/bar in Gettysburg that bears his name. He was one of the three "boy generals", along with Custer and Merritt, that Pleasonton recommended for stars. Custer and Merritt became superb wartime division commanders. Alas, poor Farnsworth's career as a general lasted less than a week. Had he lived he may have gone on to be a volunteer cavalry commander on the scale of a Thomas Devin or Wade Hampton.

Farnsworth was twenty-five at Gettysburg and was a native of Michigan and Illinois who was expelled from the University of Michigan for participating in an equestrian event where a student was killed. He then joined the Army as a civilian forage master and participated in the '58 Mormon Expedition where he probably met the quartermaster of the 2nd Dragoons, John Buford. At the outset of the Civil War, Farnsworth's uncle John, a congressman, organized the 8th Illinois Cavalry, and young Elon joined as a junior officer. Finally, along with Custer he became one of Pleasonton's favorite staff officers and in Special Order #175 was promoted from captain to General on June 28, 1863. [119]

At Hanover on June 30, Farnsworth performed extremely well for a two-day old general. When Colonel John Chambliss's Rebel horsemen tore into the 18th Pennsylvania, who were bringing up his rear in Hanover, the reaction was swift and decisive. Farnsworth counterattacked with the 5th New York Cavalry and drove back three Confederate regiments from the center of town back to their starting point southwest to Keller's Hill. In the process Colonel Payne, acting commander of the 2nd North Carolina Cavalry, was captured and Farnsworth's troopers came extremely close to bagging Stuart himself. For a twenty-five year old brand new brigade commander to be surprised from the rear and to immediately mount a stunning counterattack was truly amazing. [120]

Two days later at Hunterstown, Farnsworth came up too late to participate and moved his brigade to Two Taverns by dawn of July 3, and then the fateful order that would kill him came down at 8:00 a.m. Kilpatrick's Division was ordered to the army's left and to attack the enemy's right. The result was "Farnsworth's Charge" and his death which was discussed earlier. Again, had he lived Elon Farnsworth could have gone on to be a stellar brigade commander. Would he have been a division commander on the scale of a Buford or Custer is debatable. But there can be no doubt that the Union cavalry suffered a severe loss when Colonel William C. Oates' Alabamians shot down the young general. The attack was supposed to be a brigade effort. Yet it broke down into separate charges. The 1st West Virginia charged up the slope in the area of the present day Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument and were repulsed. The 18th Pennsylvania was supposed to support them but either did not or were also easily repulsed. Then only two battalions of the 1st Vermont went in around the Slyder Farm. Farnsworth does bear some responsibility for the uncoordinated nature of the attack. His personal example was inspiring, but the attack was flawed and piecemeal. As the brigade commander, Farnsworth should not have been personally leading a battalion. He should have been coordinating his brigade's attack. But Custer did the same thing and became immortal. Death, as we can see is not usually a good career move. [121]

Did General Farnsworth commit suicide during the charge? If one believes the Confederate accounts, he did. On the other hand the Union accounts deny it and say he was shot down attempting to fight his way out. Whether he killed himself or not is immaterial. He was a promising cavalry leader whose career was cut tragically short. Had he lived he probably would have gone on to be a shining star and Kilpatrick probably would not have quite the negative reputation he now has with most historians. [122]


The 3rd Division's regimental colonels represented a little recognized fact about the Union Cavalry Corps. That is that at the small unit level, two years of war had weeded out the weak, and the volunteer officers had learned their business well.

In Farnsworth's command, two officers stood out. Major John Hammond of the 5th New York saved the day in Hanover when he counterattacked and single-handedly pushed one of Stuart's best brigades out of town. Colonel Nathaniel Richmond of the 1st West Virginia performed admirably throughout the Gettysburg campaign and was the star of the Monterey Gap fight on July 4. He also competently handled the brigade after Farmsworth's death. Lieutenant Colonel Addison Preston of the 1st Vermont stayed back during Farnsworth's charge with the skirmish batallion and is not heard from in the battle. It is worth mentioning Major William Wells, however, who led the remnants of the battalion that Farnsworth rode with. He had enlisted as a private in 1861 and would rise to command a brigade in Custer's Division and achieve the rank of brevet major general by the end of the war. Although his exact actions are unclear in Farnsworth's Charge he received one of only four cavalry Medals of Honor in the battle of Gettysburg and stands as one of the best volunteer cavalry officers of the War. Few officers in the war rose from private to two star rank as did Wells. [123]

On the negative side Lieutenant Colonel William Brinton of the 18th Pennsylvania completely lost control of his regiment during the battle of Hanover when they were split in two by a surprise attack from the south by Chambliss's Rebel horsemen. Admittedly, this was the regiment's first engagement, but three days later their support of the 1st West Virginia attack was notable for its lack of enthusiasm. [124]

In Custer's Michigan Cavalry Brigade regimental leadership was exceptionably strong. The 1st Michigan was led by Colonel Charles Town who was dying of tuberculosis and had to be strapped into the saddle. One officer referred to the tough colonel as a "modern Chevalier Bayard." Town has the distinction of personally leading, along with Custer, one of the great mounted cavalry charges in American history when the 1st Michigan smashed into Hampton and Fitz Lee's troopers on the East Cavalry Field like "the felling of trees;" heralding a new age for the Union horse soldiers in the east. Colonel Russell Alger of the 5th Michigan was also an excellent regimental commander who was wounded on July 3rd. He would act as brigade commander on a number of occassions and would be the U.S. Secretary of War in the 1890s. Colonel George Gray of the 6th Michigan, a colorful Irishman and youthful (23) Colonel William Mann of the 7th Michigan were also solid, brave, competent commanders. [125]


The Reserve Brigade of U.S. Regular cavalrymen and the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry were part of John Buford's 1st Cavalry Division and were commanded by Brigadier General Wesley Merritt. During most of the battle they were guarding the gaps in the Catoctin Mountains near present day Thurmont, Maryland. On the 3rd day of the battle they were ordered north up the Emmitsburg Road to Gettysburg and they joined Farnsworth's Brigade of Kilpatrick's Division where they were attached to the 3rd Division. [126]

Sometime in mid-afternoon during Pickett's Charge, Kilpatrick ordered Merritt to attack north up the Emmitsburg Road in conjunction with Farnsworth's attack. As has been discussed earlier there are no copies surviving of Kilpatrick's actual orders and no evidence he even physically met with Merritt. Thus the "Merritt should have charged and Farnsworth should have dismounted" theory does not really hold water. Meade or Pleasonton did not give Kilpatrick a large enough force to attack the Rebel right. Kilpatrick did order an attack but did not coordinate the two-brigade assault well. However, neither did Farnsworth or Wesley Merritt. [127]

Wesley Merritt

Wesley Merritt had one of the most illustrious careers in U.S. Army history. After growing up in New York and Illinois, he graduated from West Point in 1860 and served for a year in John Buford's 2nd Dragoon company in Utah. Buford was definitely an influence on the young officer and in fact Merritt became a virtual clone of his tough, hardened mentor. Early in the war the subaltern was an aide to veteran cavalryman George Stoneman and the legendary Philip St. George Cooke. He went on to command the 2nd U.S. Cavalry (the old 2nd Dragoons) in the battle of Brandy Station where he led and fought saber to saber in some of the most dramatic charges of that greatest cavalry battle in American history. Probably due to his performance there, Pleasonton promoted him in the triumvirate of "boy generals" along with Custer and Farnsworth. [128]

After Gettysburg his rise in the U.S. Army was the equal or better of Custer's. His career in the post-War army was the stuff of legend: Lieutenant Colonel of the all-black 9th U.S. Cavalry (the Buffalo Soldiers), colonel of the crack 5th U.S. Cavalry which fought in the Great Sioux War of 1876-77, superintendant of West Point, and was the premier general in the Spanish-American War over three decades after the Civil War. [129]

But at Gettysburg, Merritt's first battle as a general, his leadership was lacking although few historians have called him to task, instead blaming Kilpatrick. The truth is on the South Cavalry Field it was Merritt who led the lackluster, mostly dismounted (although elements of the 5th U.S. did charge on horseback) attack on Longstreet's Rebels. There is no evidence that Kilpatrick was ever physically present on Merritt's front along the Emmitsburg Road. So if anyone failed to utilize the open ground there for a mounted charge, or poorly coordinated his regiments it was as much the brigade commander's responsibility as it was Kilpatrick's.

In addition, Merritt made a costly and fatal mistake when he detached Major Sam Starr's 6th U.S. Cavalry before the fight and had them go in search of a Rebel wagon train near Fairfield. This in effect stripped him of almost a quarter of his combat strength and placed a single regiment completely out of supporting range, some eight miles to the north. There the 6th U.S. would lose, by percentage, more men than any other cavalry regiment in the battle. For this Wesley Merritt deserves censure. It was he that sent Starr and the ill-fated 6th on a mission that had no clear objective and no support plan. What if the 6th had been given the mission of cutting off Lee from Monterey Gap? The story of the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg may have been quite different.

There can be little doubt that Wesley Merritt was a strong, competent cavalry leader in the mold of John Buford. Certainly he was respected by the troopers and officers in his command and few American army officers have had career accomplishments to equal his. But the cold fact is that in his first battle as a general his leadership was not on the level that it had been at Brandy Station or would later be in the Civil War or the Indian and Spanish-American conflicts. But he would improve. After all, neither Robert E. Lee nor Stonewall Jackson did very well in their first Civil War campaigns.

From top to bottom the Reserve Brigade may have been the strongest and best led mounted brigade in either army. Three of its regiments were the remnants of the old 1st and 2nd U.S. Dragoons (1st and 2nd U.S.) and the 2nd U.S. (5th U.S.) Cavalry. Its fourth regiment was the only regular army cavalry unit created for the War—the 6th U.S. The brigade was rounded out by Rush's Lancer's, the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, who had been mustered by West Pointer Richard Rush in Philadelphia. All five regiments were veterans of the Peninsula and they all had been in the field for a year or more. There was no brigade in the Cavalry Corps with more combat time. [130]

At the regimental level the commanders were what you would expect of the Regulars. The 1st U.S. was led by Captain Richard Lord who had graduated from the West Point Class of '56 and had served in Gregg and Pender's 1st Dragoons in the northwest before the War. Lord was a good example of what happened if you stayed in the regulars instead of taking the tempting "volunteer" commission. Contemporaries like Gregg and Pender were division commanders wearing stars while Lord was still a captain. Although it is unclear what he actually did, Lord was breveted for bravery at Gettysburg as his 1st U.S. was in the thick of the heavy skirmishing along the Emmitsburg Road. He became just another forgotten regular army officer as he ended the war a captain and died in 1866. [131]

The 2nd U.S., Buford's and Merritt's old outfit, were led by a true cavalry legend. Native Pennsylvanian Theophilus F. Rodenbough was directly commissioned into the 2nd Dragoons at the beginning of the Civil War. He was breveted five times for bravery in the 2nd U.S. during those long four years. He lost his arm and won the Medal of Honor at Trevilian Station, a forgotten battle to all but lovers of cavalry. At the very end of the War he was commissioned colonel of the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry. After retiring as a colonel in 1870 Rodenbough went on to become the premier cavalry historian of the 19th Century. He helped (along with Merritt) write the beautiful history of the 2nd Dragoons/2nd U.S. Cavalry From Everglade to Canon and Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War. The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, direct lineal descendant of the 2nd Dragoons, were the first units to engage the Iraqi Republican Guards during Operation Desert Storm. Buford, Merritt, and Rodenbough were no doubt smiling down from Valhalla. [132]

The 5th U.S., Robert E. Lee's former regiment, was led by another Keystone stater who had received a direct commission: Captain Julius Mason. Mason ended the war a captain despite his two brevets for bravery at the 1st and 2nd battles of Brandy Station. He was finally promoted to Regular Army Major in 1876, dying six years later. The 6th Pennsylvania, who were also known as the 6th Pennsylvania "Regulars" or the 7th "Regulars" were competently commanded by Major James Haseltine. The "Lancers" (early in the War the 6th Pennsylvania had been equipped with lances which proved inconvenient and obsolete) fought well at Gettysburg as dismounted skirmishers on July 3 despite their heavy losses at Brandy Station. [133]


Before going into action on the afternoon of July 3 Wesley Merritt detailed the 6th U.S. Cavalry and sent them eight miles north towards Fairfield because a civilian had reported a Rebel wagon train there. So on this scant intelligence Merritt sent Major Sam Starr and his 6th Regulars on a doomed mission. [134]

Major Sam Starr typified the old U.S. Regular Army. A native New Yorker he had enlisted as a regular artilleryman in 1832. During the Mexican War he was an engineer and then he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Dragoons where he served in the same company as John Buford. At the war's outset he took a volunteer commission as the Colonel of the 5th New Jersey Infantry and was breveted for bravery at Williamsburg in May '62. Then, amazingly, he took a "demotion" back to the regulars where he became the Major of the 6th U.S. Cavalry. For a time before Gettysburg he was the Reserve Brigade commander until Merritt was promoted to general. As an old army martinet Starr was not popular with all the troopers. One commented on Starr's leadership at Upperville

Major Starr, to whose lack of judgement and feeble efforts on this occasion the defeats were properly chargeable took an early opportunity to deliver the regiment a lecture, in the presence of Second Cavalry, in which he charged the Sixth with cowardice during the first part of the conflict. Of course, this was resented, and in a less disciplined body of men, might have led to difficulties. [135]

But Starr was a tough old bird and, despite losing an arm at Fairfield, stayed on active duty until 1870. [136]

No one could fault Starr's personal bravery but his judgement and tactical leadership left much to be desired on July 3. Again, Merritt had left him out on a limb, but the regimental commander did not help matters much. Once his regiment reached Fairfield they headed north up a flat mile-wide valley (the present Carroll's Tract Road) in search of the Rebel wagon train. (Most of the Rebel wagons were much further north in Cashtown.) Whether there were any wagons there is a matter of debate, although Rebel reports say there were some wagons in the area of Fairfield. Heading south to meet them was "Grumble" Jones and the old Laurel Brigade of Shenandoah Valley fame. Jones' gray troopers outnumbered Starr two or three to one. The two forces met a few miles north of Fairfield in the flat valley interspersed with a few low ridges and orchards. The area looks virtually the same today.

Starr made three errors that would result in his regiment's losing over half its strength (most to capture) and all but two of their field officers. First, he detached a squadron under Captain George Cram to guard the left, cutting into his combat strength. Secondly, once he saw Jones' Brigade it must have been obvious, on that open plain that he was outnumbered. Buford three days earlier had used his discretion in Fairfield. Starr, unfortunately, decided on valor and made the fatal error of fighting outnumbered with no chance of reinforcement and no artillery support. And finally, he dismounted half his force in an orchard while ordering the other half to charge. The result was confusion and combat disintegration. In fact, one attack by Jones was repulsed by the dismounted Union Regulars and the 6th may have had a chance in a dismounted defense. One other factor was that Jones had a battery of horse artillery and Starr did not. [137]

The bottom line is that the 6th U.S. was crushed losing half their strength and had to retreat in disorder accomplishing absolutely nothing. Both Wesley Merritt and Sam Starr despite their obvious competence let down the Regulars on that 3rd day at Gettysburg.


Fairfield, however, was the exception, not the rule. In general at the divisional, brigade, and regimental level the Union Cavalry Corps had proven themselves not only valuable, but the equals of their gray counterparts. Buford's scouting, intelligence, and selection of the general area of the battle was one of the great moments in our illustrious military history. Gregg's gutsy defiance, not once, but twice, of Pleasonton and his competent tactical display on the East Cavalry Field is one of the finest chapters in the story of the Union mounted army. Unfortunately, he is still and probably always will be overlooked due to Custer's presence there. And speaking of being overlooked, Kilpatrick's performance at Hanover and Hunterstown and Gettysburg were aggressive and at times quite competent. But "Kill-Cavalry's" name will probably never be redeemed in Civil War circles.

At the brigade level, Gettysburg was one of the high water marks for the Union Cavalry Corps. Gamble's gritty stand northwest of town, McIntosh and Custer slashing away on the East Cavalry Field, and Farnsworth riding into Valhalla are all part of the legend now. And Devin, J. I. Gregg, and Merritt all began their careers in the Gettysburg campaign although their performances did not leave us lasting memories.

And, sadly, the regimental and battalion commanders are now just footnotes: Chapman, Beveridge, Kellogg, Sackett, Conger, Mason, Lord, Rodenbough, Starr, Janeway, Miller, Town, Alger, Gray, Richmond, Wells, and Hammond. Without them the Union cavalry's story at Gettysburg may have been totally different.

No, Gettysburg was not the greatest cavalry engagement of the Civil War. That would be the 1st Brandy Station battle or Trevilian Station. And contrary to popular belief once the Confederate Cavalry showed up they fought well and were not totally dominated by the blue troopers. Furthermore, the Union Cavalry Corps was not led particularly well by Pleasonton nor were they used properly by George Meade. They did not fight as a corps and did not suffer large losses.

Nonetheless, Stephen Starr was right when he called Gettysburg and the campaign "the divide." [138] It was the great divide in fact. Buford started and shaped the battle. The first blue troops in action were cavalrymen. Marcellus Jones (8th Illinois Cavalry) fired the first shot, Major Charles Lemon (3rd Indiana Cavalry) was the first Union officer killed. Gregg's action on the East Cavalry Field was not decisive in deciding the battle. Lee was not, as is popularly believed, sending Stuart around the Union Army to cooperate with Pickett's Charge. And despite what Lt. Brooke-Rawle of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry said after the War, the Union Cavalry did not save the Army there. But Custer's flowing locks and McIntosh's desperate charges were a harbinger of a future that for the Rebel force, would become dimmer and dimmer. An outnumbered Union mounted force had stood toe-to-toe with the "Invincibles" and forced them back to Cress Ridge. And Kilpatrick's aggressiveness would spread throughout the entire Corps within the year. And it was leadership that had been the key. Units are only as good as their commanders and the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac had some of the best combat leaders that the war provided.

I am asked often why I have an interest in the cavalry. Particularly the "humdrum" Union Cavalry. After all, it was the Confederacy that produced Turner Ashby, J.E.B. Stuart, Jo Shelby, and Nathan Bedford Forrest: all colorful, flamboyant characters. If you subtract Custer, then J.E.B. Stuart has more written biographies than all the leaders of the Union Cavalry Corps at Gettysburg put together.

Well for my taste, the Cavalry moved, it was dynamic, their job never ceased. And the horse cavalry will never be seen again in the numbers that it roamed the continent during the Civil War. As far as excitement and flamboyant behavior was concerned, I'm sorry, but Custer beats them all. The Rebel horse did not have a monopoly on the "Cavaliers." And finally, as a former officer in the Regular Army (which fought for the Union), it is hard not to admire the Bufords and Greggs as well as the Lords and Masons. So while most visitors flock to Devil's Den, Little Round Top, and the Angle, you will find me chasing my personal "Gettysburg" at Buford's statue and on the East and South Cavalry Fields.


1. Chandler, David, The Campaigns of Napoleon. (Macmillan Publishing Ca: New York, 1966), 133-136.

2. Royle, Trevor, A Dictionary of Military Quotations. (Simon and Shuster: New York, 1989), 128.

3. Chandler, Napoleon. 133-136.

4. Starr, Stephen, The Union Cavalry in the Civil War. (Louisiana State Press: Baton Rouge, LA, 1979), v.1, 2.

5. Heitman, Frances, Historical Register of the United States Army. (Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C., 1903, Vol. 1).

6. Waugh, John C., Class of 1846. (Warner Books: New York, 1994), 62-66.

7. Utley, Robert M., Frontiersmen in Blue 1848-1865. (University of Nebraska: Lincoln, Nebraska, 1967)

8. Ibid.

9. Wormser, Richard, The Yellowlegs: The Story of the U.S. Cavalry. (Doubleday & Co., 1966), 145-149.

10. Ibid, 154-204.

11. Ibid, 169-204.

12. Starr, Union Cavalry. Vol. 1, 345.

13. Ibid, 346.

14. Phipps, Michael, The Devil's to Pay: General John Buford USA. (Farnsworth House Military Impressions, 1994), 28-29.

15. Starr, Union Cavalry. 367-368.

16. Heitman, Historical Register. 795.

17. Ibid, 66-69

18. Rodenbough, Theo F., The Bravest Five Hundred of '61. (C. W. Dillingham Publisher, New York, 1891) 454.

19. Wormser, The Yellowlegs. 107-109, 130-148.

20. Robert O'Neill lecture Given on Philip St. George Cooke at the Annual Cavalry Seminar at Winchester, VA., July 1996.

21. Heitman, Historical Register. 795. Phipps, Buford. 14-16.

22. Letters sent and received, Ft. Crittenden, Utah, May 4, 1861. (National Archives, Washington, DC).

23. Phipps, Buford. 18-20.

24. Heitman, Historical Register. 795. Conversation with D. Scott Hartwig, April 1997.

25. Starr, Union Cavalry. Vol. 1. 358-365.

26. Ibid, 314.

27. Phipps, Buford. 31-34.

28. Starr, Union Cavalry. 386-396. Conversation with Clarke "Bud" Hall, Feb. 1996.

29. O'Neill, Robert F., The Cavalry Battles Around Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville. (Lynchburg, VA: H. E. Howard Inc.), 133-144. Conversation with Robert O'Neill Oct. 1994.

30. Starr, Union Cavalry. 424. Note: Starr feels it was proper for Pleasanton to be near Meade in the battle. I do not agree.

31. Ibid, 421-423.

32. In the Official Records Vol. 27, Part 3, p. 400, Pleasonton orders Buford to Gettysburg. In March of 1864 Pleasonton testified that he ordered Buford to "hold at all costs". That is not in the Official records. Committee on the Conduct of the War, 309-320. Also in the special collections at the Musselman Library is a letter written after the war from Joe Hooker to Gettysburg attorney David McConaughy stating he ordered Buford to Gettysburg before he was relieved.

33. U. S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. (U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, 1882-1902), Vol. 27, Part III, 400. Hereinafter cited as O.R.

34. Ibid, 416, 420.

35. Ibid, 425, 469, Vol. 27, Part I, 914-916.

36. O.R. Vol. 27, Part I, 924.

37. Ibid, 914-916.

38. O.R. Vol. 27, Part III, 470-471. Part I, 992.

39. O.R. Vol. 27, Part III, 490.

40. Ibid, 490.

41. O.R. Vol. 27, Part I, 970.

42. Ibid, 956, 992, 993.

43. Ibid, Part I, 416, 456. Phipps, Michael, "Come On, You Wolverines": Custer at Gettysburg. (Gettysburg, PA Farnsworth House Military Impressions, 1996), 32-33.

44. Ibid.

45. Ibid. O.R. Vol. 27, Part I, 992-993.

46. Warner, Ezra. Generals in Blue. (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1964), 373-374.

47. O.R. Vol. 27, Part III, 373.

48. Phipps, Wolverines. 11.

49. Agassiz, George, ed., Meade's Headquarters 1863-65: Letters of Theodore Lyman from. Wilderness to Appomattox. (Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1922; Salem, N.H.: Ayer Company Publishers, Inc., 1987), 21.

50. Palmer, Robert, Deep Blues. (New York: Penguin Books), 111-120.

51. Phipps, Buford. 7-14.

52. Ibid, 14-18.

53. Ibid, 8-18.

54. Ibid, 18-27.

55. Ibid, 27-29.

56. Ibid, 27-29

57. Ibid, 31-39.

58. Ibid, 37-39.

59. Ibid, 38-39.

60. O.R. Vol. 12, Part III, 51-69, 348.

61. Phipps, Buford. 38-40.

62. Ibid, 38-40.

63. Pratt, Fletcher, Eleven Generals. (New York: Doubleday, Inc. 1949) Entire chapter on Buford. Shaara, Michael, The Killer Angels. (New York: Random House, 1974). There are three chapters on Buford.

64. Brookline Chronicle, February 16, 1878. Nevins, Allan, ed., A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, (Harcourt, Brace & World: New York, 1962), 309.

65. Phipps, Buford, 39-41.

66. Ibid., 39-44.

67. O.R., Vol. 27, pt. 1, 926-927.

68. This quote comes from a phamphlet published by the committee to raise a monument to John Buford on the Gettysburg battlefield in 1895. It is only available in the New York City Public Library. A copy of Wheaton's quote was given to me by James Nolan of New York City, who wrote his master's thesis on Buford in 1994. The thesis is available at St. John's University.

69. O.R., Vol. 27, Pt. 1, 923-924.

70. Phipps, Buford, 41-44.

71. Calef, John H., "Gettysburg Notes: The Opening Gun," Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States, Vol. 40, (1907).

72. Kross, Gary, "John Buford at Gettysburg," Blue and Gray Magazine, February 1995.

73. Phipps, Buford, 44-49.

74. Calef, "Gettysburg Notes." An excellent account of the effect of Buford's deployment of Calef's battery can be found in; Marc and Beth Storch, "Archer's Brigade on July 1, 1863," Gettysburg Magazine, no. 6, January 1992.

75. Phipps, Buford, 48-49. Signal Officer Lieutenant Aaron Jerome described the Buford-Reynolds meeting at the Lutheran Seminary in a detailed letter to Major General Winfield S. Hancock in 1867. Why Edwin Coddington accepted Sergeant Charles Veil's version over Jerome's is something of a mystery. Veil's memoirs on the subject border on the hallucinatory.

76. Ibid., 50-53.

77. Ibid., 6-7, 50-53. The "send up Hancock" quote come from Jerome's letter to Hancock in 1867. The "Hell and Damnation," quote is from E. P. Halystead, an aide-de-camp to Abner Doubleday. Doubleday had numerous detractors, among them were Meade, Buford, Gibbon, Alpheus Williams, and Charles Wainwright.

78. Ibid., 53-54. Although Ed Longacre has been an excellent, ground breaking cavalry historian, I disagree with his opinion in The Cavalry at Gettysburg, that Buford requested relief. Until I see direct primary source evidence of this I hold Meade and Pleasonton responsible.

79. Phipps, Buford, 29-30, 44-45, 51-53.

80. Ibid., 53-54.

81. All casualty figures come from, Busey, John, and Martin, David, Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg, (Longstreet House: Hightstown, NJ, 1994).

82. Phipps, Buford, 29-31.

83. Ibid., 50-53.

84. Warner, Generals in Blue, 165-166.

85. Phipps, Buford. 50-53. Also see, Beveridge, "The First Gun at Gettysburg," The Gettysburg Papers.

86. These are my opinions on the regimental commanders. The Conger information comes from Theodore Lyman's classic, Meade's Headquarters.

87. Burgess, Milton, David Gregg: Pennsylvania Cavalryman, (Nittany Valley Offset: State College, PA, 1984), 1-65.

88. Ibid. Longacre, Edward, General John Buford, (Combined Books: Conshocken, PA 1995), 141.

89. O.R., Vol. 27, pt. 3, 425, 469; pt. 1, 914-916.

90. Phipps, Wolverines, 24-26.

91. Shevchuk, Paul, "The Fight on Brinkerhoff's Ridge: July 2, 1863," Gettysburg Magazine, January 1990.

92. Phipps, Wolverines, 31.

93. Ibid., 32.

94. Ibid., 33-34.

95. Ibid., 16-23.

96. Ibid., 25-26.

97. Ibid., 25-29. I do not agree with Jeffery Wert's contention, in his excellent biography of Custer, that Kilpatrick ordered the charge.

98. Ibid., 33-51.

99. Busey and Martin, Regimental Strengths.

100. Warner, Generals in Blue, 300-301.

101. Phipps, Wolverines, 36-55.

102. Ibid., 49.

103. Longacre, Edward, The Cavalry at Gettysburg (University of Nebraska Press: London, 1986), 91-92.

104. Ibid., 53.

105. Ibid., 225.

106. Buel, Clarence and Underwood, Robert, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, (Thomas Yoseloff: New York), Vol. 3, 404-406.

107. Brooke-Rawle, William, "The Right Flank at Gettysburg," The Annals of the War, (The Times Publishing Co.: Philadelphia, 1879), 23-24.

108. Longacre, The Cavalry at Gettysburg, 53-54. Warner, Generals in Blue, 266-267.

109. Ford, Worthington, ed., A Cycle of Adams Letters 1861-1865, (Boston, 1920), Vol. 2, 32.

110. Lecture delivered by Mr. Ventor in the 1996 Cavalry Seminar at Winchester, VA. Quotations were provided to the author by Mr. Ventor.

111. Phipps, Wolverines, 16-23.

112. Ibid., 25-29. There is no evidence that Kilpatrick ordered the charge at Hunterstown as Jeffery Wert claims in his Custer biography.

113. Ibid., 31-32.

114. Kross, Gary, "Farnsworth's Charge," Blue and Gray Magazine, Vol. 13, Issue no. 3, 45-53.

115. A post-war photograph of this area by William Tipton shows it to be much more open than today.

116. Kross, "Farnsworth's Charge," 53.

117. Longacre, The Cavalry at Gettysburg, 240-242.

118. Warner, Generals in Blue, 266-267.

119. Ibid., 143-144.

120. Phipps, Wolverines, 21.

121. Kross, "Farnsworth," 47-53.

122. Colonel William C. Oates of the 15th Alabama Infantry claimed that Farnsworth killed himself. See, Oates to John Bachelder, Sept. 16, 1888, in, Ladd, David L & Audrey J., The Bachelder Papers, (Morningside Press: Dayton, OH, 1995), Vol. 3, 1556-1559.

123. Warner, Generals in Blue, 549-550.

124. All opinions of Kilpatrick's colonels are based on the author's analysis of their combat record.

125. Phipps, Wolverines, 13-14.

126. Longacre, The Cavalry at Gettysburg, 240-243.

127. Ibid.

128. Warner, Generals in Blue, 321-322.

129. Ibid.

130. The best history of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry is, Gracie, Reverend S. L., Annals of the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, (E. N. Butler & Co.: Philadelphia, 1868). The Regulars have several fine regimental histories available at the U.S. Army Military History Institute at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Of these, the best is Theo. Rodenbough's, From Everglade to Canon With the 2nd Dragoons.

131. Heitman, Historical Register, 641.

132. Ibid., 841

133. Ibid., 695. Gracie, Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry.

134. Shevchuk, Paul, "Cut to Pieces: The Cavalry Fight at Fairfield," Gettysburg Magazine, no. 1 (July 1989), 93-104.

135. Monthly returns of the 2nd Dragoons, National Archives. Heitman, 917. Shevchuk, 93-104.

136. Heitman, 917.

137. Much of this is the author's opinion, but the guide is Shevchuk's essay on Fairfield, cited above.

138. Starr, Union Cavalry, Vol. 1, 351.

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