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BUFORD (Chapter 7 of Part II)
Howard and Hancock’s dispute over command
Buford’s last narrated chapter begins with the cavalry commander riding into camp "looking for someone to give him orders for what was left of his cavalry." He finds himself caught up in a debate over whether Howard, the senior officer in the field, or Hancock is truly in command. Apparently, Hancock arrived just as Howard’s division fell apart. Hancock reformed the division and Meade gave him verbal orders to take command, but Howard refuses to accept this and wants written proof of Meade’s order.
Buford avoids the debate and meets with Hancock and Meade. Buford reports on both Reynolds’ death and the ground they are defending, and is then dismissed to rest. Buford reflects on Reynolds’ death and cannot find that white angel statue that was in the cemetery before the battle.
"The majors confronted like wispy chickens." (p.147)
"He’s mad as a hornet." (p.148)
"Then the anger began to rise like a mental wave, like a hot tide in the dark." (p.148)
Symbols & Color:
"Buford stopped in the cemetery. He could not find the white angel...Then he rode off down the hill into the black beneath the trees." (p.150)
Metaphor: "He could see a great ocean of Rebel campfires." (p.150)
Union vs. Confederacy
The Union’s ineffective leadership is paramount in this chapter. Buford captured the good ground and held it, and as thanks he receives Howard’s accusation that the cavalry commander left the 11 th division’s flank exposed. Howard and Hancock are arguing over protocol when major strategy decisions need to be made.
As Buford puts it: "Never get used to it, the mind of headquarters, not if I live a thousand years." (p.147) Headquarters is arguing (Howard or Hancock) based not on what’s best for the army, but upon which is "right" by principle.
Gibbon is a Union officer with three brothers fighting for the Confederacy.