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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1841

Vol. II

(Born Pa.)

John F. Reynolds

(Ap'd Pa.)


John Fulton Reynolds: Born Sep. 20, 1820, Lancaster, PA.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1837, to July 1, 1841, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 3d Artillery, July 1, 1841.

Second Lieut., 3d Artillery, Oct. 23, 1841.

Served: in garrison at Ft. McHenry, Md., 1841‑42, — Ft. Pickens, Fla., 1842, — Ft. Marion, Fla., 1842, 1842‑43, — and Ft. Moultrie, S. C., 1843‑45; in Military Occupation of Texas, 1845‑46; in the War with

(First Lieut., 3d Artillery, June 18, 1846)

Mexico, 1846‑48, being engaged in the Defense of Ft. Brown, Tex.,

(Bvt. Capt., Sep. 23, 1846,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Monterey, Mex.)

May 3‑9, 1846, — Battle of Monterey, Sep. 21‑23, 1846, — and Battle of Buena Vista, Feb. 22‑23, 1847; in garrison at Ft. Trumbull, Ct., 1848, —

(Bvt. Major, Feb. 23, 1847,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Buena Vista, Mex.)

Ft. Preble, Me., 1848‑50, — Ft. Adams, R. I., 1851‑52; as Quartermaster, 3d Artillery, Oct. 25, 1850, to Feb. 14, 1852; as Aide-de‑Camp to Major-General Twiggs, Feb. 14, 1852, to Nov. 30, 1853; in garrison at Ft. Lafayette, N. Y., 1854, — and Ft. Wood, N. Y., 1854; on frontier duty, on March to Utah, 1854, — Salt Lake city, Utah, 1854‑55, — Ft. Yuma,

(Captain, 3d Artillery, Mar. 3, 1855)

 p91  Cal., 1855, — Benicia, Cal., 1855, — Ft. Orford, Or., 1855‑56, — and Rogue River Expedition, 1856, on which he was engaged in several Skirmishes with Oregon Indians; in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va., 1856‑58; on frontier duty at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., 1858, — Utah Expedition, 1858‑59, — March to Columbia River, 1859, — and Ft. Vancouver, Wash., 1859‑60; and at the Military Academy, as Commandant of Cadets (ex officio Lieut.‑Colonel), and Instructor of Artillery, Infantry, and Cavalry Tactics, Sep. 8, 1860, to June 25, 1861.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑63: in command

(Lieut.‑Colonel, 14th Infantry, May 14, 1861)

of his regiment, at Ft. Trumbull, Ct., July 6 to Sep. 8, 1861, — of

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Aug. 20, 1861)

Brigade of Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, on the right of the lines before Washington, D. C., Sep. 16, 1861, to June 9, 1862; in the Virginia Peninsular Campaign, June, 1862, being engaged in the Battle of Mechanicsville, June 26, 1862, — Battle of Gaines's Mill, June 27, 1862, — and Battle of Glendale, June 30, 1862, where he was captured; as Prisoner of War, June 30 to Aug. 8, 1862; in the Northern Virginia Campaign, Aug.‑Sep., 1862, commanding Division, being engaged in the Second Battle of Bull Run, Aug. 29‑30, 1862; in command of the Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, in Defense of the State during the Maryland Campaign, Sep. 14‑26, 1862;​1 in command of 1st Corps of the Army of the Potomac, Nov. 29, 1862, to July 1, 1863; on the March to Falmouth, Va.,

(Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Nov. 29, 1862)

Oct.‑Nov., 1862; in the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Dec., 1862, to June, 1863, being engaged in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862, — and Battle of Chancellorsville (in reserve), May 2‑4, 1863; and in the Pennsylvania Campaign (Army of the Potomac).

(Colonel, 5th Infantry, June 1, 1863)

June‑July, 1863, being in command of the engaged forces at the opening of the Battle of Gettysburg, and while urging on his men with animating words, was

Killed, July 1, 1863: Aged 42.2

Buried, Lancaster Cemetery, Lancaster, PA.

Biographical Sketch.

Major‑General John F. Reynolds was born, Sep. 20, 1820, at Lancaster, Pa., where he received a good elementary education. Through the influence of James Buchanan, subsequently President of the United States, he was appointed a Cadet in the U. S. Military Academy, from which he was graduated and promoted to the Artillery, July 1, 1841. After four years of seaboard garrison duty, he was ordered to the Texas frontier, and in the Mexican War was engaged in the Defense of Ft. Brown and the Battles of Monterey and Buena Vista, receiving for his "gallant and meritorious conduct" therein the brevets of Captain and  p92 Major. In 1852‑53 he was Aide-de‑Camp to Major-General Twiggs; in 1856 was actively engaged against the Rogue River Indians in Oregon; and in 1858‑59 took part in the Utah Expedition, — all of which duties were performed with zeal, efficiency, and success.

Reynolds, from Sep. 8, 1860, to June 25, 1861, holding the ex officio rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, was the soldierly, energetic, and accomplished Commandant of Cadets at West Point, where he won golden opinions from all the officials of the Military Academy.

Upon the outbreak of the Rebellion, Reynolds was made Lieut.‑Colonel of the 14th Infantry, May 14, 1861, and appointed Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Aug. 20, 1861. By request of Governor Curtin, he was assigned to the command of a Brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, holding the right of the lines before Washington city. In May, 1862, he was made Military Governor of Fredericksburg, and in June accompanied the Army of the Potomac in the Peninsular Campaign, being engaged in the Battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines's Mill, and Glendale, where he was captured, remaining a Prisoner of War till Aug. 8, 1862, when he took command of a Division of Pennsylvania Reserves, with which he bore a distinguished part in the Northern Virginia Campaign, being engaged in the Battle of Manassas, Aug. 29‑30, 1862.

During the threatened invasion of Pennsylvania, in September, 1862, by the request of its Governor, Reynolds was placed in command of all the State Volunteer Militia for its defense. Promoted Major-General, and the danger of invasion being frustrated, he was assigned to the command of the First Corps, Army of the Potomac, with which he marched to Falmouth, Va., and was engaged in the Battle of Fredericksburg in Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Meade's brilliant assault on the enemy's right, and at Chancellorsville was in reserve. On June 12, 1863, in the Pennsylvania campaign, he took command of the united forces of the First, Third, and Eleventh Corps and Buford's Cavalry. While, with animating words, urging on his men in the engagement preliminary to the great Battle of Gettysburg, he was struck by a rifle-ball fired by a sharpshooter and mortally wounded, falling dead from his horse a few moments after.

Thus nobly perished, in defense of his native State, one of the most distinguished and best-loved officers of the Army of the Potomac, in which he had most faithfully served, held a very elevated command, could have been at its head, and was, by both officers and men, greatly esteemed as one of their brightest ornaments. Had he lived, he would doubtless have inscribed his name conspicuously in the Valhalla of his country's heroes.

Professor Kendrick, who was intimate with Reynolds, both as a cadet and an officer, says: "Although Reynolds entered the Military Academy as one of its youngest members, he quickly took a very prominent place in the confidence and esteem of his classmates, many of whom have since loyally written their names high in the military annals of the country, while his frank and manly bearing gained him the respect of the corps of instructors. Independent in thought and action, of clear and definite perceptions, his opinions, on all subjects within the range of a young man's discussion, were well formed and well maintained, and yet so calmly and courteously as to leave no sting in the breast of an opponent, but rather higher respect and greater friendship. He worshiped truth and duty in the highest acceptance of those words; with all these great qualities he went forth from the Academy to the wider field of army service, and as word came back again and again of his enviable progress, it was recognized as the expected fulfillment of his early promise. It was his good fortune to serve, in the beginning of his military career, in intimate connection with that other great man and soldier, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George H. Thomas. Together and in the same battery they served in the gallant Defense of Ft. Brown at the commencement of the Mexican War;  p93 together they fought successfully at Monterey, and together they struggled in the desperate and important Battle of Buena Vista, which largely aided in the Capture of Vera Cruz and the victory of Cerro Gordo. In all these conflicts on General Taylor's line, Reynolds was greatly distinguished for his military courage, his modest self-reliance, and his military conduct. Of him General Taylor's accomplished Chief of Staff, Colonel Bliss, wrote: 'Your young friend has the general's high regard, and he is the idol of his men.' In his great and varied service in Florida, in Texas, in Mexico, California, Oregon, Utah, Reynolds always showed himself without fear, without reproach, and without an enemy. When he yielded up his life, still so full of promise, in the defense of his native State and of his country in the turning victory of the war at Gettysburg, it was but the fitting termination of his whole life. England 'almost regretted the victory of Trafalgar,' since it caused her the death of Nelson; our army and 'thinking men' throughout the North, who knew his high worth and high prospects, regretted that Gettysburg could not be won without the loss of General John F. Reynolds."

The Author's Notes:

1 Governor Curtin, Sep., 1862, tendered to General Reynolds his thanks in behalf of the State of Pennsylvania in the following terms: —

"General: Having relieved you from duty as Commander of the Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, recently called for the defense of the State, I deem it proper to express my strong sense of the gratitude which Pennsylvania owes for the zeal, spirit, and ability which you brought to her service at a period when her honor and safety were threatened. That for her security you left the command of your brave division, the Pennsylvania Reserves, thus losing the opportunity of leading this gallant corps at South Mountain and the Antietam, is a just demonstration of the true affection you bear for your native State, which, be assured, her freemen reciprocate, and for which, in their behalf, I am happy to make you this acknowledgement."

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2 General Reynolds "was struck with a rifle-shot that caused almost instant death, — a grievous loss to the Army of the Potomac, one of whose most distinguished and best beloved officers he was; one whom, by the steady growth of the highest military qualities, the general voice of the whole Army had marked out for the largest fame."

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