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5695Buford and Farnsworth in Action?

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  • eighth_conn_inf
    Apr 22 9:30 AM

      Brig Gen. John Buford was selected by McClellan on 10 September to be his administrative chief of cavalry with Pleasonton commanding in the field. Buford had little to do perhaps other than hurrying units forward to Pleasonton and getting supplies to him as Buford remained in McClellan's headquarters. Buford, who, on 30 August, had been hit below the knee by a spent bullet, was likely anxious to again confront Robertson's Rebel troopers who had bested him in that cavalry battle at Second Bull Run. But there is no official record of Buford in the field during the Maryland Campaign despite one report that Buford was in charge of the cavalry at South Mountain on 14 September. That reference is Edward G. Longacre, "General John Buford: A Military Biography," 115-116, citing Myles Keogh, "Etat de Service of Major Genl Jno. Buford from his promotion to Brig Genl to his death" [p. 2], MS in Special Collections, USMA Library.

      The next question concerns Capt. Elon Farnsworth and his participation in a skirmish on 7 September. On that date, a squadron of the Fifth Virginia Cavalry was attacked at Poolesville by Maj. George H. Chapman, commander of the Third Indiana, leading two squadrons of the Eighth Illinois Cavalry and two squadrons of the Third Indiana Cavalry; he recaptured Poolesville taking two Rebels prisoner along with one horse with its saddle and equipment and sending the rest fleeing towards Barnesville. The regimental historian of the 8th Illinois Cavalry, Abner Hard, said that Capt. Farnsworth led the charge and doesn't mention Chapman. Records show, however that Farnsworth was the assistant quartermaster of the IV Corps during this time having previously served in the Eighth Illinois Cavalry. It is possible that since that corps was in the general area and given the fluid situation, that Capt. Farnsworth did command the attack or at least the two squadrons of the Eighth, and that Pleasonton did not mention this as Farnsworth was not under his command.

      Carman does not mention Capt. Farnsworth but goes with Pleasonton's 19 September OR report. Has anyone more info on these events other than the OR reports of Pleasonton, Stuart, Hampton, and Munford? Pickerill's regimental history of the Third Indiana is of no help as he quotes Pleasonton's report of the 19th.

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