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Union Leaders: Reynolds

John F. Reynolds (1820-1863)

Reynolds first assignments after graduation were garrison duties at various posts in Maryland South Carolina, Florida and Texas. He was promoted 1LT (18 Jun ’46) and accompanied Taylor’s army to Mexico, where he was brevetted CPT for bravery at Monterey and MAJ for gallantry at Buena Vista. After the war Reynolds returned to garrison duty, this time at various posts in New England, and at New Orleans. Promoted CPT 3 Mar ’55, he crossed the plains two years later in the campaign against the Mormans. After a short term of duty at Ft. Vancouver, Washington, Reynolds was appointed commandant of cadets at West Point, serving as instructor of artillery, cavalry, and infantry.    

Photograph of J. F. Reynolds

With the outbreak of the Civil War Reynolds was promoted LTC (14 May ’61). Due to the influence of Pennsylvania Governor Curtin the Federal Government promoted Reynolds BG of vols on 20 Aug ’61 and assigned him to a brigade of Pennyslvania Reserves, in the defenses of Washington. During the Peninsula campaign Reynolds’ Pennsylvanians were assigned to the V Corps and participated at Mechanicsville and Gaines’ Mill. At the latter battle Reynolds was captured and sent to Richmond. He was exchanged and returned to duty on 8 Aug ’62, and assigned to command a division of Pennsylvania Reserves.

His command joined the III Corps of Pope’s Army of Virginia on 21 Aug ’62 where it participated at Second Manassas (29-30 Aug ’62). At the request of Governor Curtin, Reynolds’ was sent to Pennsylvania to command the state militia during the Maryland campaign. On 29 Nov ’62 he was promoted MG of vols and returned to command the I Corps, Army of the Potomac. His corps participated at Fredericksburg (13 Dec ’62), where a portion of his troops drove through the Confederate line at Hamilton’s crossing, but were forced back. At Chancellorsville (1-4 May ’63) the I Corps was held in reserve. Reynolds was promoted COL R.A. in early June.

Equestrian statue of Reynolds, outside of Gettysburg, PA

On 28 Jun ’63, after Meade assumed command of the army of the Potomac, he assigned Reynolds command of a wing, consisting of the I, III, XI Corps. While personally supervising the placement of I Corps troops during the opening stages of the battle of Gettysburg, on 1 Jul ’63, Reynolds was shot and killed.

Note: Biographical information comes from the U.S. Army Center for Military History Gettysburg Staff Ride book.

Posted in Civil War.

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