John F. Buford

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John F. Buford

John F. Buford, Jr. (1826-1863) - Born 4 Mar 1826 near Versailles, Kentucky. A career U.S. Army Cavalry officer and West Point graduate who served for the Union during the U.S. Civil War. Considered one of the ablest cavalry officers in the Union Army. Died of typhoid fever 16 Dec 1863, Washington, D.C., buried in the United States Military Academy Cemetery at West Point.

Buford was born near Versailles, Kentucky but raised in Rock Island, Illinois. He entered the United States Military Academy 1 Jul 1844 and graduated 1 Jul 1848 in the 1848 class of West Point ranking 16th out of 38.

Posted to the dragoons, he saw his first combat in the Sioux campaign of 1855, then went west with the Mormon expedition and stayed in Utah until the commencement of the U.S. Civil War, when his regiment marched 1,100 miles overland to return to Washington, D.C.

Buford was given his first position in 1862, under Maj. Gen. John Pope (Cullum 1127). He was given the Reserve Cavalry Brigade, which fought with distinction at the Battle of 2nd Bull Run. Buford personally led a charge late in the battle, but was badly wounded in the knee and left for dead. He returned, though, and served as a cavalry "advisor" to Maj. Gens. George B. McClellan and Ambrose E. Burnside (Cullum 1348). Under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker (Cullum 919), however, Buford was given the Reserve Brigade again, and he helped introduce the dragoon technique of fighting while dismounted.

After the Battle of Chancellorsville, Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton (Cullum 1212) was given command of the Cavalry Corps, although Hooker later agreed that Buford would have been the better choice (Pleasonton was too flashy and rather incompetent as a cavalry leader). Buford's division was the first to arrive at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and successfully held off Maj. Gen. Henry Heth's (Cullum 1368) Confederate division so that Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds' (Cullum 1084) U.S. I Corps could hold the high ground west of town. Afterwards, Buford's tired troopers were (wrongly, as it turns out) sent to Emmitsburg, Maryland to resupply and refit. They saw no more action at the eventual Gettysburg victory, of which Buford had been a key component.

General John Buford Memorial at West Point Cemetery

Buford was stricken with typhoid fever and died 16 Dec 1863 at age 37 in Washington, D.C. and was buried in the United States Military Academy Cemetery at West Point.

Fort Buford in the Dakota Territory was named after him in 1866.

Father: John Buford (-abt1847-48)

Mother: Anne Bannister Howe Watson (-1834)


  • Martha McDowell Duke (1830-) married 9 May 1854, born 25 Jun 1830


  • James Duke Buford (1855-abt 1874) born Jul 1855, died at age 19
  • Pattie McDowell Buford (1857-abt 1862) born Oct 1857, died at age 5


Personal Description:

  • Height: Middle
  • Build: Compactly built
  • Hair Color:
  • Eye Color: Triangular Gray


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