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One of the most highly esteemed of Union corps commanders, John F. Reynolds was destined to fall in the defense of his native state. The Pennsylvanian West Pointer (1841) had been posted to the artillery with which he won two Mexican War brevets. In the interwar period he was an instructor and commandant of cadets at his alma mater and upon the outbreak of the Civil War was made second in command of one of the newly authorized regular army infantry regiments.

His assignments included: captain, 3rd Artillery (since March 3, 1855); lieutenant colonel, 14th Infantry (May 14, 186 1); brigadier general, USV (August 20, 1861); commanding lst Brigade, McCall's Division, Army of the Potomac (October 3, 186 1-March 13, 1862); commanding 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, lst Corps, Army of the Potomac (March 13-April 4, 1862); commanding 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, Department of the Rappahannock (April 4-June 12, 1862); commanding 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac (June 18-27, 1862); commanding 3rd Division, 3rd Corps, Army of Virginia (August 26-September 12, 1862); commanding Pennsylvania Militia (September 13-ca. 29, 1862); commanding lst Corps, Army of the Potomac (September 29, 1862-January 2, 1863, January 4-March 1, and March 9-July 1, 1863); major general, USV (November 29, 1862); colonel, 5th Infantry (June 1, 1863); and commanding Left Wing (lst, 3rd, and 11th Corps), Army of the Potomac (June 30-July 1, 1863).

He was assigned to the command of a brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserves which he trained in the Washington area. After service in northern Virginia, the division was moved to the Peninsula where during the Seven Days it made a stout defense at Beaver Dam Creek. The next day the command was again engaged at Gaines' Mill and following the close of the action Reynolds fell asleep after being cut off from his troops. Captured the next morning, he was exchanged on August 13, 1862, in time to command the Pennsylvania Reserves in the defeat at 2nd Bull Run.

At the request of Pennsylvania's Governor Andrew G. Curtin,Reynolds was detached and assigned to organize the state militia during the panic occasioned by Lee's invasion of Maryland. He thus missed the fighting at Antietam but returned to command the corps at Fredericksburg where one of his divisions, under George G. Meade, made the only breach in the Confederate lines, albeit temporary.

Men point to spot where Gen. John Reynold's was killed right after the Battle in 1863

His corps played only a minor role at Chancellorsville, and he became disgusted with Hooker's leadership. By now a major general and senior corps commander, he heard rumors of his pending appointment to command of the Army of the Potomac. He rushed to Washington and in a meeting with Lincoln declared that he would not accept the post unless the usual strings from the capital were severed. Thus Meade ended up in command of the army and Reynolds was in charge of three corps on the first day at Gettysburg.

With his command heavily outnumbered on the field, he realized that he had to reinforce the position being held by John Buford's troopers. While placing the first of his infantry in line he was instantly killed by a Confederate shot. Accounts vary as to whether it was a stray bullet or one from a sharpshooter. As the ambulance carrying his body passed by the troops advancing to the victory-which he had done so much to make possible it cast a pall of sadness over the regiments. (Roland, Charles P., Toward Gettysburg: A Biography of John F. Riynolds No. 186) .

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