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Don Carlos Buell
Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Union Military
March 23, 1818 Don Carlos Buell born near Marietta, Ohio Ohio
July 1, 1837 Entering West Point in the class of 1841, Don Carlos Buell,
December 11, 1860 Under orders from Secretary of War John Floyd, General Don Carlos Buell visits Robert Anderson at Fort Sumter. Buell tells Anderson he may occupy any fort that he wants to if he is attacked or feels he is about to be attacked.
  Fort Sumter
  Robert Anderson
  Special Memorandum to Robert Anderson, December 11, 1860
  John Floyd
November 9, 1861 Major General Henry Halleck is given command of the states east of the Mississippi and Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell is put in command of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee.
  Henry Halleck
November 15, 1861 William Tecumseh Sherman is replaced by Don Carlos Buell at the head of the reorganized Department of Ohio. Sherman had assumed command as senior officer when Anderson was relieved of duty.
  William Tecumseh Sherman
  Army of the Ohio
February 25, 1862 "Bull" Nelson enters Nashville, Tennessee, first Confederate state capital to fall into Union hands. Don Carlos Buell accepts the city's surrender. Nathan Bedford Forrest provides a rear guard for Hardee's Army of Central Kentucky as it withdraws to Alabama. Tennessee
  Nathan Bedford Forrest
  William Hardee
  Fall of Nashville, February, 1862
  William 'Bull' Nelson
  John Floyd
  Civil War Firsts
April 6, 1862
April 7, 1862
Battle of Pittsburg Landing [Union]
Battle of Shiloh [Confederate]

Ulysses S. Grant [US] defeats Albert Sidney Johnston [CS] in southwest Tennessee. P. G. T. Beauregard assumed command following Johnston's death

Confederate Losses
1,723 dead
8,012 wounded
959 missing
Union Losses
1,754 dead
8,408 wounded
2,885 missing
Tennessee
  Ulysses S. Grant
  Sherman's Memoirs on Shiloh
  P. G. T. Beauregard
  Battle of Shiloh
  Braxton Bragg
  William Tecumseh Sherman
  Bloodiest Civil War battles
  Albert Sidney Johnston
  John Breckinridge
  William Hardee
  William 'Bull' Nelson
  Lew Wallace
  Lew Wallace at Shiloh
  Army of the Tennessee
  James McPherson
  Army of Mississippi
August 16, 1862 Don Carlos Buell orders William "Bull" Nelson to assume command of federal forces in Kentucky. Kentucky
  Confederate Invasion of Kentucky
  William 'Bull' Nelson
September 25, 1862 Don Carlos Buell arrives in Louisville, KY, beating Braxton Bragg to the Ohio River. Kentucky
  Braxton Bragg
  Confederate Invasion of Kentucky
  Army of the Ohio
September 29, 1862 George Thomas offered command of the Army of the Ohio. He refuses, unaware that Abraham Lincoln had made the offer after receiving a plea for Thomas from 20 officers in the Army of the Ohio.
  George Thomas
  Army of the Ohio
  Confederate Invasion of Kentucky
October 8, 1862 Battle of Perryville

Braxton Bragg [CS] and Don Carlos Buell [US] fight the largest battle on Kentucky soil. The battle is generally regarded as a draw, although Buell claimed victory. Less than half of Buell's men participated because he did not know a major battle was taking place less than 2 miles from his headquarters
Kentucky
  Braxton Bragg
  Army of the Ohio
  Army of Tennessee
  Philip Sheridan
  Confederate Invasion of Kentucky
  William Hardee
  Simon Bolivar Buckner
  Benjamin Franklin Cheatham
  Leonidas Polk
  Patrick Cleburne
October 24, 1862 Don Carlos Buell [US] is relieved of command from the Army of the Ohio for his failure to pursue Bragg [CS] following the Battle of Perryville. William Starke Rosecrans is ordered to replace him.
  William S. Rosecrans
  Confederate Invasion of Kentucky
June 1, 1864 Don Carlos Buell resigns his commission.
November 19, 1898 Don Carlos Buell dies, Rockport, Kentucky


Don Carlos Buell

Selected as one of the Worst Generals of the Civil War by the editors of The Blue and Gray Trail.

Major General Don Carlos Buell who fought in the Western Theater of the Civil War from 1861-1862
Don Carlos Buell
According to his biographer, Stephen D. Engle, in his book Don Carlos Buell, Most Promising of All Don Carlos Buell was a conservative Democrat who viewed the Civil War as a struggle to restore the Union as it existed rather than a war to bring significant social change to the slaveholding South. Buell himself was pro-slavery.

Don Carlos Buell's father died in 1825 and he grew up with his uncle in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. After graduating from West Point in 1841 (32nd out of 52), he fought in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican American War, where he was wounded at the Battle of Churubusco. Before the start of the Civil War he was brevetted major.

In December, 1860 Secretary of War John Floyd sent Major Buell to visit Robert Anderson, then in command of the U. S. garrison at Charleston, South Carolina. Buell carried a message to Anderson that was too sensitive to go over the telegraph wires. "You may occupy any fort within Charleston Harbor." Anderson had wired Washington that at Fort Moultrie his position was threatened. With Washington's approval, Anderson could move to a much more formidable structure, Fort Sumter

When the war erupted, Buell was promoted to brigadier general and assigned an active duty command in spite of the fact that he was an assistant adjutant-general (an administrative position). He reported to Washington, DC, in September 1861, where he served as a division commander in the Army of the Potomac under his friend, George McClellan. In November of that same year, Buell was chosen to replace Robert Anderson, who had been relieved of duty as commander of the Department of the Ohio the previous month.

With Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee quickly striking and capturing Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio moved cautiously from Bowling Green, Kentucky toward Nashville, Tennessee. This gave Sidney Johnston and William Hardee plenty of time to remove manufacturing equipment and goods and move them south by train. After capturing Nashville on February 25, Buell stopped when he ran into Nathan Bedford Forrest's rearguard action.

Albert Sidney Johnston left Murfreesboro, Tennessee on March 5, and arrived at Corinth, Mississippi on March 25. Buell decided to argue with Henry Halleck about his orders (he was a separate command). Halleck appealed to Washington and the next day Lincoln combined his three Western Armies into the Department of Mississippi and put Halleck in command. On March 13, 1862 Buell left Nashville and developed a case of the "slows." Johnston would move a similar size body of troops further in less time to attack Grant at Shiloh. On April 6, 1862, with the sounds of battle echoing down the Tennessee River valley to Savannah, Tennessee, Buell's forward division under Brigadier General William 'Bull' Nelson, would not reach Pittsburg Landing until after the end of fighting on the first day.

Buell rode ahead, arriving about 1 pm on the 6th and met with Grant on his command vessel. Grant told Buell that he should be prepared to attack the following morning. Buell's men continued to arrive throughout the night. Grant used Bull Nelson, Alexander McCook, and Thomas Crittenden to form the extreme left of his line, to the south of Pittsburg Landing near the Tennessee River.

Nelson, who came across the Tennessee first, advanced so quickly on the morning of April 7 that Buell twice ordered him to halt to let his right flank catch up. Crittenden chose to regroup as his men came off the ferry and advance as a single unit. By the time his men completed the crossing, Nelson was fully engaged against James Chalmer's Mississippians. McCook, who began arriving after sunrise on April 7, simply sent his troops to the front line as they completed the crossing.

Buell pursued the Rebels to Corinth under command of Henry Halleck. P. G. T. Beauregard withdrew from Corinth to Tupelo before a Union attack, so Halleck ordered Buell to Chattanooga on June 10, 1862. In three weeks Buell had only moved 90 miles towards the Scenic City. On July 8, 1862, Henry Halleck wrote Buell to say "The President says your progress is not satisfactory and you should move more rapidly."

Braxton Bragg, now in command of the Army of Mississippi, was about to completely fool Buell. On July 21 the commander of the Army of Tennessee ordered a 770-mile flanking movement via railroad and ship. A week later Bragg's men began arriving in force at Chattanooga. He had beaten the Union commander to the Scenic City.

As a consolation Buell took the railhead at Stevenson, Alabama and reoccupied Nashville. Buell intended to hold a 400-mile line stretching across the entire state of Tennessee. Nathan Bedford Forrest severed the connection from Stevenson to Nashville with a raid on Murfreesboro. As the railroad was close to being fixed, Forrest again attacked, burning three bridges south of Nashville. Abraham Lincoln had more derisive things to say about the commander of the Army of the Ohio. Then John Hunt Morgan began raids into Kentucky. Morgan sent word to E. Kirby Smith in Knoxville encouraging him to move into Kentucky. As Kirby Smith moved north, Buell (extending a non-existent line another 100 miles) dispatched 'Bull' Nelson to Kentucky to organize the recruits, but kept his division in Murfreesboro.

Smith took Richmond, Lexington and Frankfurt as Bragg screened Buell, who continued to fear an attack on Nashville. Before he knew it, Buell had the Army of Tennessee between himself and Louisville, Kentucky, the major communications and transportation hub for the Union armies in the West. When it finally dawned on Buell that Bragg was not going to attack Nashville but was heading due north towards Louisville, he had to scramble to the west of Bragg to defend his supply line. Buell regrouped when he arrived at Louisville on September 25 and 26.

Buell was so disliked by his senior officers that they petitioned Abraham Lincoln and requested Buell be replaced by George Thomas. With the army in Louisville regrouping, Lincoln offered command to Thomas, who refused. At Perryville, Kentucky, Buell and the Army of the Ohio attacked an army of 16,000 Confederates with almost 60,000 men (although only 30,000 were engaged in combat), and came close to losing, but eked out an "indecisive." Fortunately for Buell, Bragg began to see Unionists under every rock in Kentucky and withdrew his army to the south.

Buell failed to pursue the Rebels as ordered, claiming that he lacked the necessary supplies. Lincoln used this reason to relieve him of command and replace him with William S. Rosecrans, but Buell's command had been doomed since he failed to prevent Bragg's advance into Kentucky.

A military commission chaired by General Lew Wallace investigated Buell's inaction while he remained on inactive duty in Cincinnati. The report of the committee was never released to the public, but Buell was offered new battlefield commands. Buell refused to take these commissions under officers that he once outranked.

He supported George McClellan in the presidential election of 1864, openly attacking the Union high command for its actions and high loss of life. Upon the war's conclusion, Buell entered into a coal and iron ore mining business in Kentucky.

Links appearing on this page:

1860
Abraham Lincoln
Albert Sidney Johnston
April 6
April, 1862
Army of the Ohio
Army of the Potomac
Army of the Tennessee
Braxton Bragg
Don Carlos Buell, Most Promising of All
E. Kirby Smith
Fort Henry and Fort Donelson
Fort Sumter
George McClellan
George Thomas
Henry Halleck
John Floyd
July 8
July, 1862
Lew Wallace
March 13
March, 1862
Mexican American War
Nathan Bedford Forrest
P. G. T. Beauregard
Robert Anderson
Sidney Johnston
South Carolina
Tennessee
Ulysses S. Grant
William 'Bull' Nelson
William Hardee
William S. Rosecrans
Worst Generals of the Civil War
telegraph

Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Union Military

Don Carlos Buell was last changed on - December 16, 2008
Don Carlos Buell was added in 2005





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