John Buford, half-brother of General Napoleon B. Buford and cousin of Confederate General Abraham Buford, was born in Woodford County, Kentucky, on March 4, 1826. In the early 1840's his parents moved to Rock Island, Illinois, from where he was appointed to West Point. Upon his graduation in 1848, he was posted to the 2nd Dragoons and saw much frontier service in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, and in the Utah Expedition of 1857-58. In 1861 the regiment was marched overland to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, thence to Washington in October. It was redesignated as the 2nd Cavalry, and Buford was one of its captains. During the following winter he acted as a staff major and assistant inspector general in the Washington defenses. At this time General John Pope, fresh from his western successes, procured Buford a brigadier's commission to rank from July 27, 1862, and command of the reserve cavalry brigade of the newly constituted Army of Virginia. In the campaign of Second Manassas, Buford performed yeoman's service before he was so badly wounded in the withdrawal of the Federal army across Bull Run that he was reported dead. In the Maryland campaign he acted as chief of cavalry of the Army of the Potomac under George B. McClellan and at Fredericksburg, under Ambrose E. Burnside. Upon the reorganization of the cavalry under Joseph Hooker, Buford again took command of the reserve brigade. He participated with great credit in the attempt by George Stoneman to capture Richmond and free the Union prisoners there, although this action reflected poor judgment on the part of Hooker since it deprived him of his whole cavalry corps immediately before he plunged into the tangled wilderness around Chancellorsville. In the subsequent campaign of Gettysburg Buford, now commanding a division, reached the apogee of his career, on July 1, 1863. With one man to about a yard of front, he ordered one of his brigades, under Colonel (later General) William Gamble, to dismount in order to oppose the advance of A. P. Hill's Confederate corps on the road from Cashtown. This permitted the deployment of the leading units of Reynolds' I Corps and the establishment of some order in the crumbling Federal defenses. After engaging in numerous cavalry combats, General Buford was stricken with typhoid fever during the Rappahannock campaign in the autumn of 1863. He died in Washington on December 16, 1863, and was buried in West Point. His commission as major general of volunteers was presented to him on his deathbed.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.