General John F. Reynolds Autograph - Inventory Number: AUT 069 / ON-HOLD
Written just three months prior to his being Killed in action at the Battle of Gettysburg!
“Head Qrts. 1st Army Corps – March 27th, 1863. Accepted & Discharged John F. Reynolds Maj. Genl. Vols. Comdg.”
John Fulton Reynolds (September 20, 1820 – July 1, 1863) was a career United States Army officer. One of the Union Army's most respected senior commanders, he played a key role in committing the Army of the Potomac to the Battle of Gettysburg and was killed at the start of the battle.
On the morning of July 1, 1863, Reynolds was commanding the "left wing" of the Army of the Potomac, with operational control over the I, III, and XI Corps, and Brig. Gen. John Buford's cavalry division. Buford occupied the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and set up light defensive lines north and west of the town. He resisted the approach of two Confederate infantry brigades on the Chambersburg Pike until the nearest Union infantry, Reynolds' I Corps, began to arrive. Reynolds rode out ahead of the 1st Division, met with Buford, and then accompanied some of his soldiers, probably from Brig. Gen. Lysander Cutler's brigade, into the fighting at Herbst's Woods. Troops began arriving from Brig. Gen. Solomon Meredith's Iron Brigade, and as Reynolds was supervising the placement of the 2nd Wisconsin, he yelled at them, "Forward men! For God's sake forward!" At that moment he fell from his horse with a wound in the back of the upper neck, or lower head, and died almost instantly. Command passed to his senior division commander, Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday.
The loss of General Reynolds was keenly felt by the army. He was loved by his men and respected by his peers. There are no recorded instances of negative comments made by his contemporaries. Historian Shelby Foote wrote that many considered him "not only the highest ranking [sic] but also the best general in the army." His death had a more immediate effect that day, however. By ratifying Buford's defensive plan and engaging his I Corps infantry, Reynolds essentially selected the location for the Battle of Gettysburg for Meade, turning a chance meeting engagement into a massive, pitched battle, committing the Army of the Potomac to fight on that ground with forces that were initially numerically inferior to the Confederates that were concentrating there. In the command confusion that followed Reynolds' death, the two Union corps that reached the field were overwhelmed and forced to retreat through the streets of Gettysburg to the high ground south of town, where they were rallied by his old friend, Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock.
Frame measures 14 inches x 9 inches.