Simon bolivar buckner was born at the “glen lily” estate in munfordville, hart county, kentucky. He graduated from the united states military academy in 1844 and, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 2nd u.S. Infantry regiment. He returned to west point as an assistant professor of geography, history, and ethics. During the mexican-american war, he served as the regimental quartermaster. He was wounded at churubusco, was appointed a brevet first lieutenant for contreras and churubusco, and to captain for molino del rey.The conclusion of the mexican war, buckner became assistant instructor of infantry tactics at west point from 1848 until 1850. Buckner then served on the frontier, in recruiting, and in the commissary department. In 1854, he helped an old friend from west point and mexico, captain ulysses s. Grant, who had resigned from the army and had no money to travel home. Buckner himself resigned from the army, in march 1855, and moved to illinois, where he engaged successfully in managing family properties in chicago. He served in the illinois militia, initially as a major, then as colonel and adjutant general in 1857. He moved to kentucky, in 1858, and accepted the commission of captain in the kentucky militia. With the outbreak of the civil war, buckner had risen to become major general and commander of the kentucky militia. Despite; the state being torn between the union and, the confederacy, with the population, for the most having sympathies for one side or the other. This can be demonstrated with the political make up of kentucky. The state legislature supporting the union cause and, the governor show strong confederate allegiances. Thus, the state declared it was officially neutral between the warring parties. The state board that controlled the militia considered it to be pro-secessionist and ordered it to store its arms. Buckner resigned on july 20, 1861. After confederate general leonidas polk captured columbus, kentucky, effectively violating the state’s neutrality, buckner accepted a commission as a brigadier general in the confederate states army on september 14, 1861, and was followed by many of the men he formerly commanded in the state militia. He became a division commander in the army of central kentucky, under william j. Hardee, who was then stationed in bowling green.By the early winter months of 1862, union brigadier general ulysses s. Grant had captured fort henry on the tennessee river in february 1862, he turned his sights on nearby fort donelson on the cumberland. Western theater commander general albert sidney johnston sent buckner to be one of four brigadier generals defending fort donelson. In overall command was the influential politician, but military novice, john b. Floyd; buckner’s peers were gideon j. Pillow and bushrod johnson. Buckner’s division defended the right flank of the confederate line of entrenchments that surrounded the fort and the small town of dover, tennessee. On february 14, the confederate generals decided that they could not successfully hold the fort and planned a breakout attempt, hoping to join with johnston’s army, now in nashville. At dawn the following morning, pillow launched a strong assault against the right flank of grant’s army, pushing it back 1 to 2 miles. Buckner, who was not confident of his army’s chances, and not on good professional terms with pillow, held back his supporting attack for over two hours, giving grant’s men time to bring up reinforcements and reform their line. Fortunately, buckner’s delay had not prevented the confederate attack from opening a corridor for an escape from the besieged fort. At this time, however, floyd and pillow combined to undo the day’s work by ordering the troops back to their trench positions.Late that night, the generals held a council of war in which floyd and pillow expressed satisfaction with the events of the day, but buckner convinced them that they had little realistic chance to hold the fort or escape from grant’s army, which was receiving steady reinforcements. His sense of defeatism carried the meeting. General floyd, who was concerned that he would be tried for treason if captured by the north, sought assurances from buckner that he would be given time to escape with some of his virginia regiments before the army surrendered. Buckner agreed and floyd turned over command to his subordinate, pillow. Pillow immediately declined and passed command to buckner, who agreed to stay behind and surrender. Pillow and floyd were able to escape, as did cavalry commander colonel nathan bedford forrest. That morning, buckner sent a messenger to the union army requesting an armistice and that a meeting of commissioners be sent to determine the terms of surrender. He was hoping that grant would offer generous terms, remembering the kind assistance he gave him when grant was destitute. However, grant had no sympathy for his old friend and his reply included the famous quotation, “no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.” grant was courteous to buckner following the surrender, and offered to loan him money to see him through his impending imprisonment, but buckner declined. The surrender was a humiliation for buckner personally, but also a strategic defeat for the confederacy, losing over 12,000 men and equipment, as well as control of the cumberland river, which caused the evacuation of nashville. Buckner was a union prisoner of war at fort warren in boston until august 15, 1862, when he was exchanged for general george a. Mccall.The following day buckner joined braxton bragg’s 1862 invasion of kentucky, fighting as a division commander in the army of tennessee at the battle of perryville. In the post analysis of perryville, buckner would have a deep dislike of general bragg. This relationship would only worsen with an attack by kentucky (orphan) brigade at murfreesboro, in which buckners kentuckians would lose significant casualties in futile but gallant charge against massed artillery. He was reassigned to command the district of the gulf, fortifying the defenses of mobile, alabama, until april 1863. Returning to the army of tennessee, he fought as a corps commander at the battle of chickamauga, where his relationship with general bragg had become severely strained. Buckner was to serve as a division commander under james longstreet in the siege of knoxville, which end in eventually failure and see general longstreet return to the army of northern virginia. In the spring of 1864, he commanded the department of east tennessee, but spent considerable time in richmond, virginia, where he became known as “simon the poet” for his hobby of writing poetry. In august 1864, buckner was transferred to the trans-mississippi army as a corps commander. He was promoted to lieutenant general on september 20 and became chief of staff to general edmund kirby smith.After the forces of the trans mississippi surrendered, buckner was paroled in shreveport, louisiana, on june 9, 1865. The terms of his parole prevented his return to kentucky for three years, so he lived in new orleans, where he worked on the staff of the daily crescent newspaper. He returned to kentucky when he was eligible in 1868 and became editor of the louisville courier until 1887. During this time he, like most former confederate officers, petitioned the united states congress for the restoration of his civil rights as was provided for under the terms of the 14th amendment.In 1887, buckner was elected governor of kentucky as a democrat, serving until 1891. Buckner was the vice presidential candidate for the national democratic party in the 1896 elections. His presidential running mate was john m. Palmer, who had been a union general.The democratic party was split, due to the economic depression that occurred under democratic president grover cleveland, and nominated william jennings bryan for the presidency.Buckner opposed bryan’s call for “free silver”, which was a plan to place the value of silver to gold at a 16-to-1 ratio, and then to tie the u.S. Dollar to that value. This plan ran contrary to the world market value of silver and gold, which was then about 32 to 1. Buckner believed that bryan’s plan would have ruined the american economy. In waging this quixotic campaign, he was present at the “last stand” of classical liberalism as a political movement in the 19th century. Buckner and the other founders of the national democrats were disenchanted democrats who viewed the party as a means to preserve the small-government ideals of thomas jefferson and grover cleveland, which they believed had been betrayed by bryan. In its first official statement, the executive committee of the party declared, the democrats had believed in the ability of every individual, unassisted, if unfettered by law, to achieve his own happiness and had upheld his right and opportunity peaceably to pursue whatever course of conduct he would, provided such conduct deprived no other individual of the equal enjoyment of the same right and opportunity. [they] stood for freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of trade, and freedom of contract, all of which are implied by the century-old battle-cry of the democratic party, individual liberty. The party criticized both the inflationist policies of the democrats and the protectionism of the republicans.Palmer and buckner received just over 1 percent of the vote in the election. Apparently many supporters of the ideals of the national democratic party voted for mckinley because of his support of the gold standard and the fact that he was perceived as having a good chance to win the election.At the time of his death, buckner was the only surviving confederate officer over the rank of brigadier general. He died in munfordville, kentucky, and is buried at frankfort cemetery in frankfort, kentucky.