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General John Fulton Reynolds, A special Kind of Hero

John F. Reynolds was born in Pennsylvania .  He had two brothers with Civil War roles.  Captain William Reynolds served the nave and after the war rose to the rank of Rear Admiral.  His brother James Lefevre Reynolds served Pennsylvania governor Curtin as Quartermaster-General of Pennsylvania.

John Reynolds was appointed to West Point by Senator James Buchanan and he graduated in 1840 in the middle of the class.  He was commissioned artillery into the 3rd US Artillery Regiment.  He served in the 3rd Seminole War and in Mexico.  He was brevetted captain for gallantry at Monterey and major for his actions at Buena Vista.  His battery commander, Captain Braxton Bragg at Buena Vista and fellow lieutenant George H Thomas supported the 1st Mississippi Rifle Regiment of Col. Jefferson C. Davis.  Davis never forgot the actions of Battery C and his loyalty to Bragg during the Civil War is legend. 

John Reynolds was well regarded by the officer corps and he was considered for the command of the Army of the Potomac when Lincoln became disinchanted with Gen Hooker.  Reynolds was not offered  the opportunity with strings and so he refused the command.  President Lincoln was leary of commanders with political aspirations particularly before his second term.

Reynolds pushed his I Corps to Gettysburg to aid the horsemen of Gen John Buford and deserves credit for establishing the advantageous position the Union force obtained.  He was killed by a sniper on the first day.  The army was keenly sorrowful for the loss of this up front leader.  His command passed to Abner Doubleday.

John Reynolds was secretely engage to Miss Katherine “Kate” May Hewett, a Catholic.  They had met on a boat returning from California.  She had promised that if anything happened to him she would enter a convent.  Eight days after his death Kate applied to the Sisters of Charity Convent in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  She became Sister Hildegardis and taught school in Albany, New York.  Without explanation on September 3. 1868 she left the order.  She never remarried and died in 1895.


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