A Major General in the Union Army, 37-year-old Buford is “a tall blond sunburned man” who served for years in the Indian wars. He is methodical and patient, though given to moodiness and occasional outbursts that startle his men. He is a Western cavalryman at heart and longs for freedom and open spaces; he is uncomfortable with the culture of the East, especially military hierarchy, and resents the necessity of appealing to superiors. He has an excellent eye for ideal battleground; when he and his brigades arrive in Gettysburg, they scout Cemetery Hill and claim it as a prime Union position—a move with great consequences for the outcome of the battle and thus the war. Despite this vital contribution to the Union effort, however, Buford is pushed aside while visiting headquarters for information, confirming his negative views about Eastern mindsets. Buford has taught his men to fight dismounted, as cavalrymen did out West, instead of through “glorious” charges. In this way, he is a Union counterpart to the visionary Longstreet.
John Buford Quotes in The Killer Angels
The The Killer Angels quotes below are all either spoken by John Buford or refer to John Buford. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:).
Monday, June 29, 1863: Chapter 3 Quotes
It wasn’t the dying. He had seen men die all his life, and death was the luck of the chance, the price you eventually paid. What was worse was the stupidity. The appalling sick stupidity that was so bad you thought sometimes you would go suddenly, violently, completely insane just having to watch it. It was a deadly thing to be thinking on. Job to be done here. And all of it turns on faith.
Related Characters: John Buford, John Reynolds
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John Buford Character Timeline in The Killer Angels
The timeline below shows where the character John Buford appears in The Killer Angels. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Monday, June 29, 1863: Chapter 3: Buford
Union commander John Buford rides up a hill beyond the town into the cemetery at its top. He overlooks... (full context)
Buford senses something about to happen. He decides to scout the town. He waves toward the... (full context)
Concerned, Buford sends a patrol to scout the Confederate troops north of Gettysburg and report to him... (full context)
Buford remembers past appeals for backup that never came, which further weakened his trust in leadership.... (full context)
Buford walks around the cemetery and thinks about his own mortality; he knows he is slowly... (full context)
Scouts return, confirming that Lee’s army is concentrating in the direction of Gettysburg. Buford sits down to send a message to Reynolds but is momentarily frozen by the memory... (full context)
Buford sends the message to Reynolds and dozes against a gravestone, until Reynolds sends back orders... (full context)
Monday, June 29, 1863: Chapter 4: Longstreet
...with stars.” As the chapter concludes, it is the following dawn, and a boy on Buford’s picket line sees rows of Confederate skirmishers approaching in the rain. He fires the first... (full context)
Wednesday, July 1, 1863: Chapter 2: Buford
Buford sits in the seminary’s cupola and watches dawn break. Then he hears the guns of... (full context)
Buford talks with a commander, who informs him that, while they have only scrapped with a... (full context)
Just as Buford is beginning to consider withdrawal, he looks to the south and sees Reynolds coming at... (full context)
Buford and Reynolds ride out to place the troops. Against the Confederates’ 15,000, they can put... (full context)
Wednesday, July 1, 1863: Chapter 3: Lee
...what he’d thought was only a few militia has turned out to be dismounted cavalry, Buford’s men. He thought the encounter would be a “minor scrap,” but it turned into a... (full context)
Wednesday, July 1, 1863: Chapter 7: Buford
Around two o’clock in the morning, Buford returns to the cemetery on the hill and watches the rest of the army arrive... (full context)
Suddenly, General Meade arrives, an “angry man with a squeaky voice.” Buford is pushed into the shadows as officers flock to see and hear the general. Buford... (full context)