General John Buford Oak Witness Tree Rings
Gen. John Buford Jr. was born on March 4, 1826, in Woodford County, Kentucky, but was raised in Rock Island, Illinois. His father John was a prominent Illinois politician and a political opponent of Abraham Lincoln. The Bufords were of English descent and the family had a long military tradition. John Junior's grandfather, Simeon Buford, served in the cavalry during the American Revolutionary War. His great-uncle, Col. Abraham Buford, also served in a Virginia regiment. His half-brother, Napoleon Bonaparte Buford, would become a major general in the Union Army, while his cousin, Abraham Buford, would become a cavalry brigadier general in the Confederate States Army.
After attending Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, for one year, Buford was accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated 16th of 38 cadets and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He served in Texas and against the Sioux, including the Battle of Ash Hollow; served on peacekeeping duty in Bleeding Kansas; and in the Utah War in 1858. He was stationed at Fort Crittenden, Utah, from 1859 to 1861. Buford studied the works of Gen. John Watts de Peyster, who urged that the skirmish line become the new line of battle.
Despite having been born in the divided border state of Kentucky, Buford remained loyal to the United States when the Civil War broke out. During the war, he fought against the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia as part of the Army of the Potomac. His first command was a cavalry brigade under Maj. Gen. John Pope, and he distinguished himself at Second Bull Run in August 1862, where he was wounded. He also saw action at Antietam in September and Stoneman's Raid in spring 1863.
Buford gained his greatest fame — and arguably made his biggest contribution to the Civil War — on July 1, 1863, where on the previous afternoon, he ran into parts of the Army of Northern Virginia just west of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Realizing that the entire Confederate Army would arrive the next day, he wisely assessed the grounds to his rear for the best defensive positions for the Army of the Potomac to occupy upon their arrival for the coming battle.
Having only enough strength to post one man per yard, Buford instructed one of his brigades, under Col. William Gamble, to dismount and impede the Confederate advance on July 1, 1863. Buford’s skillful defensive troop alignments, along with the bravery, dedication and skill of his men, delayed the oncoming Confederates long enough for the Union’s First Corps, under Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds, to deploy his infantry to meet the Confederates outside of Gettysburg, thus maintaining the Union footholds on the strategically important defensive for the remainder of the battle. Without Buford’s actions, the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg may have been different.
After a massive three-day battle, Union troops emerged victorious. Later, Buford rendered valuable service to the Army, both in the pursuit of Gen. Robert E. Lee after the Battle of Gettysburg, and in the Bristoe Campaign that autumn, but his health started to fail, possibly from typhoid. Just before his death at age 37, he received a personal message from President Abraham Lincoln, promoting him to major general of volunteers in recognition of his leadership at Gettysburg. Upon receiving this promotion on his deathbed, he replied simply, “It’s too late, now I wish I could live.”
Stainless Steel: Known for its strength, resistance to corrosion and ease of cleaning.
Titanium: Significantly stronger yet lighter than stainless steel. Somewhat less resistant to corrosion.
Tungsten Carbide: Nearly as hard as diamond making it very resistant to scrathes.