Throwback Thursday – Simon Buckner’s lifelong relationship to President Grant
We took inspiration for Throwback Thursday this week from famous Kentucky
historian Sam Terry, who tells a Kentucky story on his Facebook Page every day. He
spoke of Simon Bolivar Buckner, a Hart County native and Confederate general who
had a longstanding relationship with Union general and future president Ulysses S.
Grant. Here’s the story.
Born on April 1, 1823 in Munfordville, Simon Bolivar Buckner was named for the
famous Venezuelan soldier and politician of the early 1800s. His family’s Hart
County estate was Glen Lily, whose historic marker used to be on the corner of Main
Street and the Dixie Highway, but is reported to be stolen according to the historical
marker database website.
Buckner attended West Point and served in the Army during the Mexican War.
While in New York, he ran across then-Captain Ulysses S. Grant, who was unable to
pay his hotel bill and travel expenses. Buckner covered them. Within a few years, the
Civil War was in full swing. Buckner was named a Confederate general, and became
the first one to surrender in the war, at Tennessee’s Fort Donelson. He surrendered
to Grant, who offered to loan him money for the several months he would spend in
prison. Buckner declined. Buckner was also the last Confederate general to
surrender command at the end of the war too, bookending the conflict.
Grant went on to become the 18th President of the United States, serving from 1869
to 1877. He died in 1885, 20 years after the war ended, and Buckner was a pall
bearer at his funeral. Buckner provided Grant’s widow with a monthly payment for
the rest of her life.
The relationships between soldiers who knew one another before and after the war,
but fought on opposing sides, were undoubtedly common. The relationship
between Buckner and Grant was definitely a unique one.