Hd.Qrs. “Army of Potomac”

Aug. 4, 1863

Near Warrenton Junction


Dear Sir,

In obedience to your request, I will endeavor to give you a short history of the circumstances attending the death of my lamented General.  On the 30th June ___ he was in command of the left wing of the army & occupied as Hd. Qrs. Moritz Tavern—about 7 miles from Gettysburg.  At 10 P.M. of that day the Genl. sent me with dispatches to Genl. Meade who was at Taneytown, 13 miles from the tavern & there I recd. the order for the advance on Gettysburg at an early hour on the 1st July, & on my return to the tavern at 4 A.M. I found Genl. Reynolds enjoying a sound sleep, the first he had had for several nights—not in a bed, mind you but lying upon the floor of his room, wrapped in his blanket in accordance with that disregard for luxury for which he was remarkable.  I read the dispatches for him to see if they were of sufficient importance to require his being awakened & on finding them orders to move I woke him & read them to him three times, as he lay there resting his head upon his hand.  The troops were put in motion & we rode at the head of the 1st Corps to Gettysburg, finding our Cavalry beyond the town engaging the enemy.  With a rapid & comprehensive glance the Genl. at once saw the necessity of joining the low range of hills beyond the town & the 1st Div., 1st Corps being in advance was double-quicked to secure it—personally directed by Genl. Reynolds under a very severe fire of artillery.  Before this movement was completed we were attacked by a force of the enemy’s infantry which had been sent also to secure the hill.  Now was again exhibited that brilliant daring by the Genl. which excited men to emulation always—he threw himself into the very front & the place was won & the enemy captured or scattered—but at what a sacrifice for here while pushing into position the 2nd Wisconsin Rgt., he recd. a minie ball in the back of his neck at the base of the skull which in less than a moment ended the life of the man called by Genl. Hooker, “the best soldier in the army.”  He never spoke after falling from his horse; was carried to the house of a man named George George & from there I send his remains with two staff officers & an escort towards Balt., joining them myself at Westminster that night.  On the General’s little finger was that gold ring I spoke of bearing inside the words “Dear Kate,” which he valued very highly.  I remember hearing Col. Kingsbury speak of the great anxiety he exhibited when the ring was once lost for a time.  He wore about his neck by a short silken string those two emblems of the Catholic faith—heart & cross—which I remember seeing once during his life time—both of which I gave to his brother.  If at nay time I can give you any information you may desire or be of any service whatever, command me.

I am ___ very truly

your friend,

William Riddle


To Lt. Bouvier