Lieutenant General Simon
1st Corps Commander, Trans-Mississippi Division
Confederate General Buckner is best known for surrendering Fort Donelson. This opened Tennessee to invasion. It is not widely known that he was third in command at Fort Donelson. The two superior officers, John B. Floyd and Gideon J. Pillow, escaped from the fort and left the surrender to General Buckner. He asked General Grant for surrender terms, and his old friend from West Point responded that only unconditional surrender was acceptable. This began the Union general's legend as "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. Incidentally Simon Bolivar Buckner was a pallbearer at U. S. Grant's funeral.
Simon Bolivar Buckner was born in Hart County, Kentucky in 1823. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1844. Second Lieutenant Buckner fought in the Mexican War. He received two brevet promotions for his good performance. He was also wounded. Lieutenant Buckner taught infantry tactics at West Point for two years. He then returned to the infantry because he objected to mandatory chapel attendance on Sunday. After resigning from the U. S. Army in 1855, Simon Bolivar Buckner entered the real estate business and became wealthy. Kentucky was originally neutral as the Civil War began. Simon Bolivar Buckner commanded the Kentucky State Guard which was predominantly supportive of the Confederate cause. When the military board of Kentucky ordered the State Guard to turn in its arms, Simon Bolivar Buckner and many of his men joined the Confederate Army.
General Buckner was exchanged from a prisoner of war camp in August 1862. He then commanded a division at the Battle of Perryville. He was involved in the Chickamauga and Knoxville Campaigns. After the Civil War Simon Bolivar Buckner was again successful in business. He served as the governor of Kentucky from 1887 until 1891. In 1896 he unsuccessfully ran for Vice President of the United States as a National or "Gold" Democrat. Simon Bolivar Buckner died in Munfordville, Kentucky on January 8, 1914.
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