It was John Buford and his two brigades that fired the opening shots at the battle of Gettysburg. Buford held the high ground at Gettysburg for the Union army.
He was very much aware of the Confederate intention and stayed in his defensive position holding off all rebel attacks until he was relived by freshly arriving Union troops.
Buford’s first real leadership role came at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Near the end of the battle Buford led an attack and was wounded slightly in the knee. That would be the start and the end of the greatest effort of the war by Buford.
He did participate in other battles throughout the war but mostly minor skirmishes were to be his calling, after Second Bull Run and Gettysburg.
The effort given by Buford was not to be taken lightly, the man tried. After retreating back to Middleburg during the Chancellorsville campaign in 1862, General Buford directed minor raids into enemy territory on many occasions.
Born in Kentucky in the year 1826, he and his family relocated to the gentle and sweeping plains of Illinois. After receiving his appointment at the distinguished military institution, West Point, Buford soon discovered just what he wanted to do as a man, fight. The classrooms of the hallowed school instilled in Buford the ability to tactically defeat an opponent.
Graduating in 1848, Buford was sent out west to fight against the Mormons of Utah and Brigham Young’s religious-sect. He also briefly fought the Sioux.
The man, who had shown such immense promise but only earned relative obscurity, is to be remembered for his war contribution in other ways, that he gave his life in defense of something he believed so strongly in, abolition of slavery. He would later die of typhoid fever, in 1863.