Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
A Good Summary
Edward Longacre's "General John Buford" is good summary of General Buford's career. It is written in straight forward language and is therefore an easy read. Anyone who has a strong interest in the American Civil War probably is familiar with Gen. Buford through such works as the book "Killer Angels" and the movie "Gettysburg". Longacre's book provides much desired pre-civil war and civil war background information. He does interpolate a certain amount of descriptive coloring, but as an attempt to get a feel for the subjective qualities of the man this is not necessarily a bad thing. One could always hope for more detail and information, but Longacre does an admirable job with the available resources.
Thank goodness for the movie
Yes, thank goodness for the movie, Gettysburg since without that movie, this fine and very needed biography on General John Buford may never been written or published. The movie brought forward General Buford's finest day as a soldier and this biography bring forward the real man behind the Hollywood image.
Its appears that writing a biography on Buford may have been a problem due to lack of first hand material. Its appears that Buford was not a writer or many of it did not survived. But what comes out from Longacre's book is story of a decent and highly motivated man who took the long road to Gettysburg. His premature death probably robbed him of greater Civil War fame since he have proved to be one of the best cavalry commanders within the Army of the Potomac by the time Gettysburg came about. What he could have done if he lived would be one of the great "what if" of Civil War trivia.
Longacre's book is bit short on Buford's early life, lacking material would be my guess on this short coming. But the author was successful in bring out Buford's early military career, thus doing justice the subtitle of this book, "Military Biography".
Only part I am not sure on Longacre's account was his take on where Buford and General John Reynold's initially met on that first day of Gettysburg. Most well known and movie take would be at the Lutheran Seminary Cupola where that most quote "The Devil's to Pay" came out. Although the actual words may be questioned, I don't exactly buy the author's contention that the first meeting came about in the town of Gettysburg. Why would Buford be there, away from a crucial battle? This was based on civilian eye witnesses, of course the same type of civilians even today who can't tell the difference between a new born 2nd LT and a three star general!!
Other then that, this book proves to be quite readable, nicely researched and quite informative on the life of John Buford. This is the only biographical material I have read on Buford outside of that booklet I brought at Gettysburg back in 1995 written by Michael Phipps and John S. Peterson titled "The Devil's To Pay".
Not bad from Longacre
I had high expectations for this book and I must admit that I am disappointed. I agree that this was well researched but I must say that I could not read more than a couple of pages before putting it down and doing something else. A couple of things Longacre lacks, and possibly this is from a lack of primary source material, is a weak background of the Union General. We learn little about where he was born, what his young life entailed, and most importantly who his family was. We also get a mediocre summary of his involvement at Gettysburg, the most important campaign in his military career. I think Longacre could have went deeper. He should have discussed the first day in more depth, and perhaps compare/contrast Buford's character with the one portrayed in the movie "Gettysburg."
But overall I would recommend this book to anyone simply because it is the only biography out there on Buford. I think you do get a sense of who the General was and how he commanded and respected his men. I just wish it was better written.