'A Heavy Task Was Before Us"

Updated: Aug 18

As a resident of Adams County and nearby Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I have long had an appreciation of what happened here in late June/early July of 1863. And now as the new owner of Gettysburg Sentinels my passion for this place has me furthering my resolve to learn more. As I study the trees from which the Gettysburg Sentinels products are made and what occurred near and about their locations, stories develop in my mind.

General John Buford and his calvary of 2,700 arrived in Gettysburg late in the morning of June 30, 1863. Based on reports of a large Confederate advance from the west on Chambersburg Pike, Buford placed his men on several ridges to the west of town. The reports were true. A skilled tactician, Buford appraised the ground for what he believed a major battle would occur in the coming days. Just to the south and east of town was high ground that must be kept from the advancing Confederates if the coming battle was to be a Union victory. Knowing he was vastly outnumbered he devised a plan to delay the enemy advance until Union infantry would arrive sometime on July 1st.

General John Buford

On the morning of July 1st, Buford placed his now dismounted cavalry on several ridges west of town including Seminary, McPherson and Herr Ridges. It was not long until Confederate infantry arrived, pushing Buford’s vastly outnumbered men back ridge by ridge. While costly, Buford’s delaying tactics worked. They held long enough for infantry to arrive under the command of General John Reynolds. And while even Reynold’s troops fell back through the town that day the high ground, so highly regarded by Buford the previous day, was never occupied by the Confederates during the entirety of the three-day battle. Later, as Buford recalled the ordeal he said, “A heavy task was before us; we were equal to it, and shall remember with pride that at Gettysburg we did our county much service”.

Sadly, General Buford died from exposure and related complications later that year on December 16, 1863.

Note: The Buford Tree from which some of Gettysburg Sentinel's products are made. stood near the intersection of Seminary Avenue and Fairfield Road just a hundred yards or so from where Buford commanded the battle that morning from the cupula of the Lutheran Seminary building that still stands today. Go to www.gettysburgsentinels.com/shop to see our products made from the wood of the Buford Tree.

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