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Item #: CWB12059
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Breckinridge, John Cabell, major, Third Kentucky Infantry, in the war with Mexico, 1847. Source: General Officers of the Confederate States of America Major-General John Cabell Breckinridge was born near Lexington, Ky., in January, 1821, and was educated for the profession of law, which he practiced at Lexington. He was major of the Third regiment Kentucky volunteers in the Mexican war, and then began in the legislature of 1849 an illustrious political career. In 1851 he was elected to Congress from the Ashland district, and re-elected in 1853. He declined the mission to Spain offered by President Pierce and retired from public life; but in 1856 he was chosen Vice- President of the United States, and before the expiration of his term the Kentucky legislature elected him to the Senate for six years from March 4, 1861. He was the choice of the Southern States for President in 1860, and received the main part of the electoral vote of his party in the United States. On October 8, 1861, he issued an address from Bowling Green resigning his senatorship and proclaiming his devotion to the Southern cause. He was commissioned brigadier-general November 2, 1861, and given a brigade at Bowling Green. At Shiloh he distinguished himself in command of the Reserve corps, taking an active part in the battle and covering the subsequent retreat. Having been promoted major-general April 14, 1862, he was ordered with his division to Vicksburg in June. He defeated the enemy at Baton Rouge, took possession of Port Hudson, marched to the relief of Bragg, and took a conspicuous part in the battle of Murfreesboro. In 1863 he joined Gen. Joseph E. Johnston in Mississippi, and repelled the enemy at Jackson. Returning to Bragg he participated in the battle of Chickamauga and succeeded D. H. Hill in command of an army corps, in this capacity serving at Missionary Ridge. Then going into Virginia, he defeated Sigel at New Market May 15, 1864, joined General Lee in the campaign of that summer, protected the communications during Sheridan's raid, and did good service at Cold Harbor. In conjunction with General Early he discomfited the Federals under Hunter in the Shenandoah valley and made the campaign in Maryland, defeating Wallace at Monocacy. Subsequently he fought in the valley until given command in southwest Virginia, whence he was called to the cabinet as secretary of war. After Appomattox he escaped to Cuba and visited Canada and Europe before returning home. His death occurred May 17, 1875, at Lexington.
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