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Lieutenant Colonel John Reynolds was placed in charge of a regiment and reassigned to the Union's North Carolina coastal force. Before the force under Ambrose Burnside left, George McCall tapped Reynolds (now a Brigadier General) for his Pennsylvania Reserves. His fellow commanders in the Pennsylvania Reserves were George Meade and Edward O. C. Ord. In early 1862, Reynolds not only trained his troops near Fredericksburg, he became the highly respected provost of the city.
From Fredericksburg Reynolds and his command sailed to White House Landing on June 9th. Arriving at the east end of the Richmond and York Railroad on June 14, 1862, Reynolds advanced to Tunstall Station only to find it in flames, courtesy of J. E. B. Stuart. The Confederate cavalry had set fire to the depot earlier in the day during Stuart's Ride around McClellan. At the Battle of Ellison Mill, Reynolds took a strong position behind a mill race alongside Truman Seymour. A. P. Hill's attack began with James Archer's brigade striking Reynolds in what was the beginning of a rolling attack against the Union line. During the Battle of Gaines Mill on June 27, 1862, Reynolds and a majority of his command were either killed or captured. Reynold's brigade was chosen for rear guard, but Reynolds fell asleep and was captured at Boatswain's Swamp by men under Daniel Harvey Hill. He was taken to the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond. Exchanged in August, 1862, Reynolds I Corps struck Rebels at the top of Henry Hill during Second Bull Run, delaying the Rebel advance on the retreating Federal Army.
Returning to Fredericksburg, John Reynolds commanded the I Corps of the Army of the Potomac, under William Franklin in the Left Grand Division. His position, on the extreme left flank, put him up against Powell Hill. Although the battle was a Union disaster, one of his division commanders, George Meade, successfully crossed the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad tracks, before being turned backed by a massive Confederate counterattack. Reynolds is often cited for his failure to support Meade's attack, however, at the time Meade requested support General David Birney was in operational command.
Joseph Hooker did not commit the I Corps to battle during Chancellorsville. Following Chancellorsville, he become commander of the Pennsylvania Reserve, a home guard intended to protect the state from a possible Confederate invasion. In Edward J. Nichols book, Toward Gettysburg: A Biography of General John F. Reynolds when Abraham Lincoln was looking for a new commanding general for the Army of the Potomac in June, 1863, John Reynolds was his first choice. In a private meeting on June 2, Reynolds told Lincoln he would do it so long as Lincoln protected him from political pressure. Lincoln knew he could not do this, so Reynolds refused the command. Less than a year later Lincoln would agree to the same demand made by Ulysses S. Grant.
From his headquarters in Taneytown, Maryland, commander George Meade asked John Reynolds to assume command of the hastily formed Left Wing of the Army of the Potomac on June 30, 1863. Reynolds and Meade had a long-term relationship that included Meade serving under Reynolds during the Seven Day Retreat. With Powell Hill marching on John Buford's defensive lines west of Gettysburg, Reynolds arrived in the town, found Buford and rode to the Seminary Ridge. After viewing the oncoming Confederate threat (two brigades under James Archer and Joe Davis), Reynolds ordered Buford to prepare his men to withdraw as the I Corps arrived.
As the First Division of the I Corps arrived, Reynolds directed the 2nd Brigade north of the Chambersburg Pike to replace Col. William Gamble and the 1st Brigade to the south of the Pike to replace Col. Thomas Devin. The 1st, an all-Western brigade, went into battle formation (changed from a column to a line) near the Lutheran Seminary and advanced prepared to fight. Reynolds urged the 2nd Wisconsin Regiment (Iron Brigade) on as they entered Herbst Woods. As Reynolds turned to look for the next regiment a Minié-ball struck him from behind and he died almost instantly. Abner Doubleday assumed command of the I Corps for the remainder of the day, but was replaced by John Newton that evening and Doubleday returned to divisional command.
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A. P. Hill
John Reynolds was last changed on - November 13, 2009
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