Reynolds (June 13, 1863)

John Fulton Reynolds

John Fulton Reynolds

As I write in the book, John Fulton Reynolds played an important role in Meade’s life  until his death on July 1, 1863. “He was a fellow Pennsylvanian, having been born in Lancaster in 1820, and a West Point graduate, from the Class of 1837. He had fought in Mexico, served in California and Oregon, and was an instructor at West Point when the Civil War broke out. One of his soldiers described him as ‘somewhat above the medium height, well-formed, but rather slight in build–had a stern face with black whiskers and mustaches, from which a set of beautiful white teeth now and then peeped forth–black hair, and dark, piercing, penetrating eyes. His look and manner denoted uncommon coolness, and he spoke not unpleasantly. His countenance was one not likely to encourage familiarity; his age, perhaps, thirty-eight.’ One of Reynolds’s aides described him as ‘somewhat rough and wanting polish,’ but thought him ‘brave, kind-hearted, modest,’ and “’a type of the true soldier.’”“Reynolds was a man of few words. Apparently, no one in his family or in the army knew that he was engaged to be married, which is why he wore a Catholic medal around his neck, with a gold ring shaped like clasped hands on its chain. He and Katherine Hewitt had met when Reynolds was returning east. They planned to marry and honeymoon in Europe if Reynolds survived the war. If he died, Kate pledged to enter a convent.

Everything continues very quiet, and two corps having been moved above me on the river, I feel quite secure and comfortable. Reynolds moved up yesterday, and stopped to see me as he passed. He told me that being informed by a friend in Washington, that he was talked of for the command of this army, he immediately went to the President and told him he did not want the command and would not take it. He spoke, he says, very freely to the President about Hooker, but the President said he was not disposed to throw away a gun because it missed fire once; that he would pick the lock and try it again. To-day I hear Hooker is going to place Reynolds in command of the right wing of the army—that is, his corps, Birney’s and mine.

Meade’s letter taken from The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army, Vol. 1, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), pp. 385. Available via Google Books.


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