Buckner, Simon Bolivar (1823-1914) Papers, 1840-1843, 1896

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator: Buckner, Simon Bolivar, 1823-1914

Title: Papers, 1840-1843, 1896.

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Curator of Special Collections.

Size of Collection: 0.33 Cubic Feet

Location Number: Mss./ A/ B925a

Scope and Content Note

Collection includes 26 letters written to Simon Bolivar Buckner of Munfordville, Kentucky while he was a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York from 1840-1844.

There are 17 letters from Thomas J. Wood, a friend of Buckner from Kentucky, who writes regarding his desire to obtain an appointment to West Point, Kentucky politics, and his experiences after arriving at West Point.

In addition, there are two letters from Isaac Hartwell Wood of Hodgenville, Ky., one letter from Henry C. Wood of Munfordville, Ky., one letter from Ex-Cadet Henegan, three letters from commissioned officer Robert Hazlett, and one letter each from fellow cadets Newton and Tom Curd.

Generally, the letters depict the academic rigors of cadet life at West Point, the type of activities undertaken during furloughs, courtship, and cadets’ attitudes towards the academy and the prospect of a military career.

Biographical Note

Simon Bolivar Buckner was born at Glen Lily, the family estate near Munfordville, Kentucky on April 1, 1823 to Aylett Hartswell Buckner and Elizabeth Ann (Morehead) Buckner. He attended school in Greenville and Hopkinsville before receiving an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1840. At West Point, Buckner was a classmate of Ulysses S. Grant, although one year behind him. After graduating from West Point in 1844, Buckner saw active duty under General Winfield Scott in the Mexican War (1846-1848) alongside Grant. He was twice promoted and was wounded at the Battle of Churubusco. After the war he returned to West Point as an instructor until he left the army in 1855 to manage some family property in Chicago, Ill.

Shortly before the Civil War, Buckner returned to Kentucky. In 1861 he accepted a commission as Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. During a siege at Fort Donelson, Buckner’s superiors fled forcing him to surrender the Rebel forces to his old friend, General Grant. He was paroled shortly thereafter and continued service in the Confederate Army, eventually reaching the rank of Lieutenant General. Buckner fought in the trans-Mississippi theater in 1864 and surrendered to Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith’s army on May 26, 1865.

After the war Buckner worked as a businessman and journalist in New Orleans until he returned to Kentucky in 1868. During the next several years he managed to amass a sizeable fortune though a series of lawsuits and shrewd business deals. In 1887, Buckner was nominated as the Democratic candidate for governor and he defeated William O’Connell Bradley in a close race. Buckner served one term and failed to win a nomination to the U.S. Senate in 1895. In 1896 he ran unsuccessfully for vice president on the Gold Democratic ticket with Gen. John M. Palmer.

Buckner died at his home on January 8, 1914.

Folder List

Folder 1: Correspondence from Thomas J. Wood to Simon Bolivar Buckner at West Point, 2 May 1840-1 August 1843 and 18 November 1896

Folder 2: Correspondence from Isaac Hartswell Wood and Henry C. Wood to Simon Bolivar Buckner at West Point, 25 June 1840-9 August 1842.

Folder 3: Correspondence from cadets Henegan, Robert Hazlett, Newton, and Tom Curd to Simon Bolivar Buckner at West Point, 7 December 1842-2 December 1843.

Subject Headings

Buckner, Simon Bolivar, 1823-1914 – Relations with women

Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell), 1782-1850 – Public opinion

Clay, Henry, 1777-1852 – Public opinion

Jefferson Barracks (Saint Louis, Mo.) – History – 19th century

Kentucky – Quotations and maxims, etc.

Military cadets

Military cadets – Leaves and furloughs

Military cadets – Selection and appointment


United States – Relations – Great Britain

United States Military Academy – History – 19th century

Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852 – Public opinion

West Point (N.Y.) – History – 19th century