A Collection in
Collection Number Ms2009-062
Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityContact Information:
P.O. Box 90001
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, Virginia 24062-9001
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Processed by: Kira A. Dietz Special Collections Staff
2009 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. All rights reserved.
Collection is open to research.
Permission to publish material from the Note to General John C. Breckinridge must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.
Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Note to General John C. Breckinridge, 1864, Ms2009-062 - Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
The Note to General John C. Breckinridge was purchased by Special Collections in March 2009.
The processing, arrangement, and description of the Note to General John C. Breckinridge commenced and was completed in April 2009.
The note is signed "Davis." The first name is difficult to read and searches on several different possibilities did not turn up any likely matches in Federal or State Census records or genealogy searches. As a result, no other information is available on this person.
John Cabell Breckinridge was born in Cabell's Dale, near Lexington, Kentucky, on January 16, 1821. After attending school in Kentucky and New Jersey, he was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1840. He married Mary Cyrene Burch in 1843. He served as a major in the 3rd Kentucky Volunteers during the Mexican War from 1847-1848. He came from family with a history of political involvement and following the Mexican War, launched a political career of his own. In 1849 he was elected to the State Senate in Kentucky and quickly moved up to the national level.
Breckinridge served as a Representative in the 32nd and 33rd United States Congresses from 1851-1855. Under President James Buchanan, he served as the youngest Vice President (36 at the time he took office), and ran an unsuccessful Presidential campaign of his own in 1860 against his friends Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. He returned to the United States Senate in March of 1861. He tried to maintain and promote neutrality, but when Kentucky sided with the Union, Breckinridge, too, was forced to choose a side. In doing so, he became the only Vice President to take up arms against the United States government. He was expelled from the Senate in December of the same year for his Confederate sympathies.
Early in 1862 Breckinridge joined the Confederate army as a Brigadier General. He was soon promoted to Major General. His first command was the 1st Kentucky Brigade ("Orphan Brigade"). He fought in a number of significant battles, including Shiloh, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. In 1864, Breckinridge helped lead the charge into Washington DC, which was eventually driven back. Jefferson Davis appointed him to the post of Confederate Secretary of War in January 1865, but by then it was too late for Breckinridge to do much for the Confederate cause.
At the end of the Civil War, he fled to Cuba, Europe, and then to Canada to avoid prosecution. Following a blanket pardon in late 1868, Breckinridge and his family returned to Kentucky in February 1869 after an eight year absence. Breckinridge retired from politics and public life in general, going back to law, instead. He also served at the president of the Elizabethtown, Lexington, Big Sandy Railroad Company. He died May 17, 1875 at age 54, and is buried in the Lexington Cemetery.
This collection consists of a note written in December 1864 to General John C. Breckinridge. The writer asks for Breckinridge to reply with a permit to ship a carriage, adding "I apprehend danger of it being captured, if it remains here." On the front of the note has been added "granted." The back of the note has the date of receipt and the send date of the permit.
The collection is arranged by material type.
- Breckinridge, John C. (John Cabell), 1821-1875.