Chapter 9

by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Chapter 9 – This poem, General John Buford – July 1st, focuses on Buford’s actions on July 1st, 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg. His cavalry forces repulsed the first Confederate attack by two of General Henry Heth‘s brigades (Archer’s and Davis’). Heth was a Major General in General A.P. Hill‘s Third Corp. But it was a tough day for General Buford’s cavalry. Even with help from the Iron Brigade (Black Hats), the rest of I Corps and the XI Corps, the Union was overwhelmed by Confederate forces, and the Union lost its best General, John Reynolds.

220px-John_Buford General John Buford

Chapter 9 – General John Buford  – July 1st

 

Along the ridge before dawn

Down the line Buford rode

Waking boyish faces

Sleepy dreamers he goad

 

He climbed the Seminary ladder

Up to the cupola white

Watching the light come

Looking for the fight

 

Air was wet and cool

Slow soaking rain

Great trees in the mist

Lovely rolling domain

 

Formidable vista

He was in the right spot

When the battle began

And he heard that first shot!

 

Two more widely spaced

Then volley spattering blare

Through tops of smoky trees

Resounding through white air

 

First attack on Herr Ridge

Repulsed but they’d be back

Rebels regrouping

New line formed to attack

 

Charging fiercely this time

Driven bloody back again

Buford gazed off distantly

Where were Reynold’s men?

 

Archer’s and Davis’ brigades

Were the Rebels attacking now

Of Henry Heth’s division

Buford’s men trying not to bow

 

But with the rest of A.P. Hill’s Third Corps

Sure to join the attack

Ewell’s Second Corp sweeping in from the north

Too many to combat

 

He needed word from Reynolds

What was the latest news?

He could hold for but a couple hours

Then precious ridges he would lose

 

Calef’s 2d US Artillery blasted

Cannon balls did fly

Soon they were met

By Pegram’s Rebel Artillery reply

 

Buford called another regiment

To move forward with speed

Dig in to greet the Rebels

And really make them bleed

 

But the Rebel attack was fierce

Barrage of shrapnel rained

A breakthrough on the right flank patched

But Buford’s men were drained

 

Another breakthrough on the right

Fighting got hand to hand

Not much longer they could hold

This high tactical land

 

Archer’s and Davis’ brigades advanced

By 10:00 AM breaking through

Buford withdrew to McPherson’s Ridge

Pulling back the cavalry blue

 

Rebel cannon kept pounding

Situation quite dour

Ammunition running low

Buford had perhaps half an hour

 

Buford climbed back up to the cupola

Now in their time of need

Galloping gallantly with his aides

Was Reynolds on his steed

 

Soon Reynolds was up in the cupola

Viewing the waves of incoming gray

Buford said, “We need to keep this high ground

Or there will be the Devil to pay!”

 

A blue line from the South

Snaked around the bend

Iron Brigade of I Corps

Ready to contend

 

Toughest Union Vets

Wearing Hats Black

The rest of I Corps following

With XI Corps at their backs

 

Reynolds complimented Buford

For repelling the Rebel attack

As soon as I Corps deploys

Buford’s Cavalry could pull back

 

They must guard the North road

And watch for General Richard S. Ewell

For soon the Confederate Second Corp

Would arrive to join the duel

 

Reynolds sent a message to Mead

“Urgent situation

Get here fast

Or lose favorable position

 

Of hills beyond the town

Don’t want to retreat

Will delay them as long as possible

If necessary barricading streets”

 

The Iron Brigade arrived

Hardened veterans grand

Mid Westerners to the rescue

Guardians of blessed land

 

I Corps was not yet in place

When it rained Confederate shells

A fierce attack came through the smoke

The Screeching Rebel Yell!

 

General Reynolds led the Iron Brigade

A brave warrior in his saddle

Shouting orders in the chaos

Determined to win the battle

 

“Forward men, for God’s sake”

They needed to break the rebel line

“Drive those fellows out of the woods”

They were running out of time

 

Buford saw General Reynolds

Pointing to line of attack

Glanced over again

His horse was bare-backed

 

Reynolds lay in the dirt road

Thick bloody stain behind head

His aide crying hysterically

General Reynolds was dead

 

Without their grand Commander

Iron Brigade still bold

Balls and fragments bursting

Still the line they did hold

 

His men bloodied and weary

Buford drew back following orders

To guard against Ewell’s attack

Defending the Northern shoulder

 

So, off his men rode

On their weary steeds

All desperate for the arrival

Of the Union General Meade

 

Go to Chapter 10

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