Portrait of Simon B. Buckner

Simon B. Buckner was the first and last general to surrender a Confederate army during the Civil War. [Wikimedia Commons]

Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr. Facts

April 1, 1823 - January 8, 1914

Key facts about General Simon B. Buckner, a prominent Confederate commander during the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.

Birth Date:

  • April 1, 1823

Birth Location:

  • “Glen Lily,” his family’s estate near Munfordville, Kentucky

Parents:

  • Aylett Hartswell and Elizabeth Ann (Morehead) Buckner

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1844)

Occupation:

  • Military officer
  • Newspaper editor

Career Summary:

  • Captain (USA)
  • Lieutenant General (CSA)

Spouse:

  • Mary Jane Kingsbury (May 2, 1850)

Place of Death:

  • Munfordville, Kentucky

Date of Death:

  • January 8, 1914

Place of Burial:

  • Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Kentucky

Significance:

  • Simon Buckner was the third child and second son of Aylett Hartswell and Elizabeth Ann (Morehead) Buckner.
  • Simon Buckner was named in honor of Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan military and political leader who campaigned for Latin American independence from the Spanish Empire.
  • Simon Buckner graduated from the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1844, placing eleventh in his class of 25 cadets.
  • Following his graduation from the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1844, Simon Buckner was brevetted as a second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Infantry Regiment, and assigned to garrison duty at Sackett’s Harbor on Lake Ontario.
  • On August 28, 1845, Simon Buckner returned to the West Point to serve as an assistant professor of geography, history, and ethics.
  • Simon Buckner resigned his teaching position at West Point shortly after the beginning of the Mexican-American War (April 25, 1846 – February 2, 1848) to join the 6th U.S. Infantry Regiment with the full rank of second lieutenant on May 9, 1846.
  • During the Mexican-American War, Simon Buckner fought at the battles of Churubusco (where he was wounded), Contreras, Molino del Rey, the Battle of Chapultepec, the Battle of Belen Gate, and the assault and capture of Mexico City.
  • Simon Buckner was brevetted to first lieutenant on August. 20, 1847, for Gallant Conduct at Churubusco.
  • Simon Buckner returned to West Point on August 26, 1848 to teach infantry tactics. On January 18, 1850, he resigned his teaching position in protest over the academy’s compulsory chapel attendance policy.
  • Simon Buckner married Mary Jane Kingsbury, in Old Lyme, Connecticut, on May 2, 1850.
  • Simon Buckner was promoted to first lieutenant on December 31, 1851.
  • Simon Buckner was promoted to captain on November 3, 1852.
  • On March 26, 1855, Simon Buckner resigned from the Army to move to Chicago and work with his father-in-law, who had built a vast real estate empire in Chicago.
  • While living in Chicago, Simon Buckner joined the Illinois State Militia as a major. On April 3, 1857, Governor William Henry Bissell appointed Buckner to the post of adjutant general of Illinois.
  • Simon Buckner served for two years as captain of a militia group in Louisville, known as the Citizens’ Guard. In 1860 Buckner’s group was incorporated into the Kentucky State Guard’s Second Regiment and Governor Beriah Magoffin appointed Buckner as inspector general of Kentucky.
  • In August 1861, Simon Buckner twice declined offers for a commission as a brigadier general in the Union Army.
  • Simon Buckner accepted a commission as brigadier general in the Confederate Army on September 14, 1861.
  • On September 18, 1861, Simon Buckner was placed in charge of the Central Geographical Division of Kentucky, Department #2, under the overall command of General Albert Sidney Johnston, leader of Rebel forces in the West.
  • On October 28, 1861, Simon Buckner was elevated to command of the 2nd Division, Central Army of Kentucky, Department #2, under the direction of General William J. Hardee.
  • On February 16, 1862, Simon Buckner surrendered Fort Donelson to his old friend Ulysses S. Grant.
  • Simon Buckner was imprisoned for five months at Fort Warren, located in Boston Harbor, until he was exchanged for Union Brigadier General George A. McCall on August 15, 1862.
  • On August 16, 1862, Simon Buckner was promoted to major general and ordered to join Braxton Bragg’s Army of Mississippi at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • On September 17, 1862, Simon Buckner occupied his hometown of Munfordville, when Colonel John T. Wilder surrendered the Union garrison stationed there.
  • During the Battle of Perryville, Simon Buckner’s division fought well, scoring a significant breakthrough in the Union center.
  • On December 14, 1862, Simon Buckner was placed in charge of the District of the Gulf, and ordered to fortify the defenses around Mobile, Alabama.
  • On May 12, 1863, Simon Buckner assumed command of the Department of East Tennessee.
  • In July 1863, Braxton Bragg’s command was reorganized and Buckner’s department was merged into the Department of Tennessee and reconfigured to form the Third Corps of the Army of Tennessee.
  • Simon Buckner took part in the Confederate victory at the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19 – 20, 1863).
  • When Simon Buckner publicly criticized General Braxton Bragg for his refusal to pursue the retreating Federals after the Battle of Chickamauga, Bragg reduced Buckner to a divisional commander.
  • During 1864 and 1865 Simon Buckner held numerous commands for relatively brief periods of time in the West.
  • Simon Buckner commanded the District of West Louisiana, Trans-Mississippi Department (August 4, 1864 – April 19, 1865).
  • Simon Buckner commanded the 1st Corps, Trans-Mississippi Department (September 1864 – May 26, 1865).
  • Simon Buckner commanded the Trans-Mississippi Department (April 19-22, 1865).
  • Simon Buckner commanded the District of Arkansas and West Louisiana, Trans-Mississippi Department (April 22 – May 26, 1865).
  • On September 20, 1864, Buckner was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general.
  • The Civil War ended for Simon Buckner when he surrendered the Department of the Trans-Mississippi on May 26, 1865 in New Orleans.
  • Simon Buckner was the first and last general to surrender a Confederate army during the Civil War.
  • After the Civil War ended, Simon Buckner lived in New Orleans for three years where he obtained a staff position on the Daily Crescent newspaper and prospered in several business ventures.
  • In 1868, Simon Buckner returned to Kentucky and became editor of the Louisville Courier.
  • In 1876, Simon Buckner’s wife, Mary, died after a long struggle with tuberculosis. Eight years later, the sixty-two-years-old Buckner married twenty-eight-year-old Delia Claiborne of Richmond, Virginia.
  • Simon Buckner’s son, Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., attended the United States Military Academy and rose to the rank of lieutenant general and was killed in the Battle of Okinawa on June 18, 1945, making him the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to be killed by enemy fire during World War II.
  • In July 1885, Simon Buckner visited his old friend Ulysses S. Grant who was dying of esophageal cancer at Mount McGregor, New York.
  • Simon Buckner served as a pallbearer at President Ulysses S. Grant’s funeral in July 1885.
  • Simon Buckner served as Governor of Kentucky from August 30, 1887 to September 2, 1891.
  • Simon Buckner served as a delegate the state’s 1890 constitutional convention, which drafted Kentucky’s current constitution.
  • Simon Buckner was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1895.
  • Simon Buckner was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice-president of the United Sates in 1896.
  • Simon Buckner became the last surviving Confederate officer to hold the rank of lieutenant general in 1908 with the passing of generals Stephen D. Lee and Alexander P. Stewart.
  • Simon Buckner died at his home in Munfordville, Kentucky on January 8, 1914 at the age of 91.
  • At the time of his death Simon Buckner was the only surviving Confederate officer above the rank of brigadier general and he was the oldest living graduate of West Point.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr. Facts
  • Coverage April 1, 1823 - January 8, 1914
  • Author
  • Keywords Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 29, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 28, 2021
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