Within six months
of his having played a key role in the opening of the battle of
Gettysburg, cavalryman John Buford was dead of typhoid fever.
The Kentucky-born soldier had moved to Illinois before
being appointed to West Point. Graduating in 1848 he was posted
to the dragoons and saw some action along the frontier and in
the expedition against the Mormons in Utah in 1857-1858.
His Civil War-era assignments included: captain, 2nd
Dragoons (since March 9, 1854); captain, 2nd Cavalry (change of
designation August 3, 1861); major and assistant adjutant
general (November 12, 1861); brigadier general, USV (July 27,
1862); commanding Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of Virginia
(July 27 - September 12, 1862); commanding Reserve Brigade,
Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac (February 12 - May 22, 1863);
commanding the division (May 22-27, June 9 - August 15, and
September 15-November 21, 1863); and major general, USV (to rank
from July 1, 1863).
After staff duty in the Washington defenses he obtained
a position on Pope's staff in northern Virginia. He was rewarded
with a brigadier's star and command of a brigade of cavalry.
While leading this at 2nd Bull Run he suffered a wound. The next
spring he was commanding the Reserve Brigade, which was composed
mainly of regular army units, and took part in Stoneman's raid
during the Chancellorsville Campaign. He directed the division
at Brandy Station, Aidie, Middleburg, and Upperville.
It was two of his brigades that initiated the fighting
at Gettysburg northwest of the town. He was able to hold off the
Confederate assaults until the arrival of Union infantry and
enabled Meade to make a stand south and east of the town on the
next two days.
He later served through the Bristoe Campaign, but just
before the commencement of the Mine Run Campaign he was struck
down by typhoid and had to relinquish his command on November
21, 1863. He died in Washington on December 16, 1863, is buried
at West Point. His commission as major general of volunteers was
presented to him on his deathbed.