Portrait of John F. Reynolds

While personally positioning the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment in Herbst Woods, during the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, a musket ball struck John F. Reynolds in the head or neck, killing him nearly instantly. [Wikimedia Commons]

John Fulton Reynolds - Facts

Key facts about Union General John F. Reynolds.

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Full Name:

  • John Fulton Reynolds

Birth Date:

  • September 20, 1820

Birth Location:

  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Parents:

  • John and Lydia (Moore) Reynolds

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1841)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Colonel (USA)
  • Major General (USVA)

Spouse:

  • None

Nickname:

  • Old Common Sense

Place of Death:

  • Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Date of Death:

  • July 1, 1863

Place of Burial:

  • Lancaster Cemetery, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Significance:

  • John Fulton Reynolds was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on September 20, 1820.
  • John F. Reynolds was the third son and fourth of nine children of John and Lydia (Moore) Reynolds.
  • John F. Reynolds’ father was editor of the Lancaster Journal.
  • As a youth, John F. Reynolds was educated in private schools including the Lancaster County Academy.
  • Future U.S President James Buchanan secured an appointment for John F. Reynolds at the United States Military Academy in 1837.
  • John F. Reynolds was a Cadet at the United States Military Academy from 1837 to 1841
  • John F. Reynolds graduated from the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1841, twenty-sixth in his class of fifty-two cadets.
  • Upon graduating from West Point, John F. Reynolds was brevetted to second lieutenant with the 3d U.S. Artillery at Fort McHenry, Maryland.
  • On Oct. 23, 1841, John F. Reynolds was promoted to the full rank of second lieutenant.
  • On June 18, 1846, John F. Reynolds was promoted to first lieutenant.
  • John F. Reynolds served with Zachary Taylor’s Army of Occupation during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
  • On September 23, 1846, John F. Reynolds was brevetted to captain for “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct” at the Battle of Monterey (July 7, 1846).
  • On February 23, 1847, John F. Reynolds was brevetted to major for “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct” at the Battle of Buena Vista (February 22-23, 1847).
  • John F. Reynolds was promoted to captain March 3, 1855.
  • John F. Reynolds participated in the Utah Expedition against the Mormons (March 1857 – July 1858).
  • John F. Reynolds served as Commandant of Cadets at the United States Military Academy from 1860 to 1861.
  • John F. Reynolds was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the 14th Infantry on May 14, 1861.
  • John F. Reynolds was promoted to brigadier general in the Volunteer Army on August 20, 1861.
  • Confederate soldiers captured John F. Reynolds after the Battle of Gaines’ Mill (June 27, 1862).
  • John F. Reynolds commanded three brigades of Pennsylvania Reserves in Major General John Pope’s Army of Virginia during the Rebel victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28–30, 1862).
  • When Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia threatened southern Pennsylvania during the Maryland Campaign (September 4–20, 1862), Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G. Curtin successfully lobbied to have John F. Reynolds returned to his home state to mobilize the militia.
  • John F. Reynolds participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862).
  • In early January 1863, John F. Reynolds was promoted to major general of volunteers, effective November 29, 1862.
  • In early June, 1863, John F. Reynolds reportedly turned down President Lincoln’s offer to command the Army of the Potomac.
  • When George G. Meade assumed command of the Army of the Potomac, he placed John F. Reynolds in charge of the army’s left wing.
  • While personally positioning the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment in Herbst Woods, during the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, a musket ball struck John F. Reynolds in the head or neck, killing him nearly instantly.
  • John F. Reynolds was buried in his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1863.
  • At the time of his death, John F. Reynolds left behind a grieving fiancée, Catherine Mary (Kate) Hewitt.
  • Since John F. Reynolds’ death, four monuments commemorating the general have been erected on the site of the Battle of Gettysburg.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title John Fulton Reynolds - Facts
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 30, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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