Brigadier General John Buford
He was born on March 4th 1826 in Woodford County Kentucky. He attended West Point, and graduated 16th from the ‘class off 48’. After graduation John Buford spent thirteen years as a cavalry officer, plying his trade and perfecting his military skills especially in cavalry tactics. It was Buford’s experience of the army that led to his well-executed and decisive actions on July 1st1863, the first day of the battle of Gettysburg. He could see that the confederates had to be stopped from taking the high ground around Gettysburg.
Buford had at his command only two brigades, 1st brigade under Colonel William Gamble, 2nd brigade under Colonel Thomas Devin, and one artillery battery. Buford knew that Major General Henry Heth and his division were marching towards him. Buford deployed his troopers in a ‘Defence in Depth’ formation knowing he could not stop them, just wishing to slow them down. The tactic worked perfectly.
‘Buford’s boys’ held up the Confederate advance for several hours allowing Major General John Reynolds, commander of the Unions 1st Corp, the time to get his reinforcements in line. Things could have been so much different for the Union, if Brigadier General John Buford was not the soldier he was. Alas, within six months of his heroic action at Gettysburg he contracted typhoid fever and died in Washington on December 16th 1863. He is buried at WestPoint.