General Don Carlos Buell, USA — Civil War Snapshot

General Don Carlos Buell. Image Source: Library of Congress.

General Don Carlos Buell (1818–1898) rose to the rank of Major in the United States Volunteer Army during the Civil War (1861—1865). Buell helped turn the tide in favor of the Union at the Battle of Shiloh (April 6–7, 1862). However, he fell out of favor with President Lincoln, resigned from the Army, and supported George B. Mclellan in the Presidential Election of 1864.

Don Carlos Buell on the West Coast

When the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, Don Carlos Buell was on the West Coast serving as the Adjutant General of the Department of the Pacific. The War Department recalled Buell to Washington, where he helped George B. McClellan organize the Army of the Potomac.

Rise to General Don Carlos Buell

For a short time, Buell commanded one of the divisions. Soon after, on May 11, 1861, Army officials promoted Buell to Lieutenant Colonel. Then, on May 17, 1861, he was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers. On November 9, 1861, the War Department gave Buell command of the Department of the Ohio. In March 1862, Buell was promoted to Major General.

General Buell in Tennessee and Mississippi

General Buell rose to prominence at the Battle of Shiloh. On the night of April 6-7, 1862, Buell’s Army of the Ohio arrived at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, and helped turn the tide of the battle, leading to a crucial Union victory. Afterward, Buell’s forces took part in the Siege of Corinth.

Battle of Shiloh, Illustration, Thulstrup
Battle of Shiloh. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Rift with President Lincoln

During the Confederate Heartland Campaign, General Buell performed poorly, and President Abraham Lincoln temporarily removed him from his command. Later, Buell’s army defeated Confederate forces at the Battle of Perryville and eventually forced them out of Kentucky. When Buell’s pursuit of the retreating Rebels was not fast enough to suit the President, Lincoln once again relieved Buell of his command on October 24, 1862.

General Buell Resigns

Afterward, Army officials offered General Buell new battlefield commands, but he refused to serve under officers he once outranked. With his military reputation irreparably damaged, Buell mustered out of volunteer service on May 23, 1864, and resigned from the military on June 1.

Buell Supports McClellan for President

In 1864, Buell supported George B. McClellan and the Democratic Party’s bid for the U.S. Presidency. Further, he openly criticized Union leadership for how it was waging the war. Buell’s efforts were in vain, as Lincoln was elected to a second term as President of the United States.

Abraham Lincoln, Portrait, Gardner
President Abraham Lincoln. Image Source: Wikipedia.

General Don Carlos Buell in the Civil War

  • Don Carlos Buell was commissioned Brigadier General of Volunteers on May 17, 1861.
  • Buell was promoted to Major General of Volunteers on March 21, 1862.
  • He directed the Department of the Ohio from November 15, 1861, through March 11, 1862.
  • General Buell commanded the Army of the Ohio from November 15, 1861, through October 24, 1862.
  • Buell served at the Battle of Shiloh (April 6–7, 1862).
  • General Buell was relieved of his command of the Army of the Ohio on October 24, 1862, as a result of his inaction following the Battle of Perryville (October 8, 1862).
  • Buell was mustered out of volunteer service on May 23, 1864.
  • He resigned from the United States Army on June 1, 1864.