Breckinridge, John Cabell 1 2

Birth Name Breckinridge, John Cabell
Gender male
Age at Death 54 years, 4 months, 1 day


BRECKINRIDGE, John Cabell,  (grandson of John Breckinridge, father of Clifton Rodes Breckinridge, and cousin of Henry Donnel Foster), a Representative and a Senator from Kentucky and a Vice President of the United States; born at ‘Cabell’s Dale,’ near Lexington, Ky., January 16, 1821; attended Pisgah Academy, Woodford County, Ky.; graduated from Centre College, Danville, Ky., in 1839; later attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University); studied law in the Transylvania Institute, Lexington, Ky.; admitted to the bar in 1840; moved to Burlington, Iowa, but soon returned and began practice in Lexington, Ky.; major of the Third Kentucky Volunteers during the Mexican War in 1847 and 1848; member, State house of representatives 1849; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-second and Thirty-third Congresses (March 4, 1851-March 3, 1855); was not a candidate for renomination in 1854; was tendered the mission to Spain by President Franklin Pierce, but declined; elected Vice President of the United States in 1856 on the Democratic ticket with James Buchanan as President; unsuccessful candidate for President in 1860; elected to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1861, until expelled by resolution of December 4, 1861, for support of the rebellion; entered the Confederate Army during the Civil War as brigadier general and soon became a major general; Secretary of War in the Cabinet of the Confederate States from January until April 1865; resided in Europe until 1868; returned to Lexington, Ky., and resumed the practice of law; vice president of the Elizabethtown, Lexington Big Sandy Railroad Co.; died in Lexington, Ky., May 17, 1875; interment in Lexington Cemetery.


American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Davis, William. John C. Breckinridge: Statesman, Soldier, Symbol. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974; Heck, Frank. Proud Kentuckian, John C. Breckinridge, 1821-1875. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1976.


Event Date Place Description Sources
Birth 16 Jan 1821 Cabell’s Dale, Fayette, Kentucky, United States of America    
Event Note

Near Lexington, Kentucky

Occupation     Lawyer  
Census 1 Jun 1850 Fayette, Kentucky, United States of America John C. Breckinridge Household, 1850 Census 3a

Page No.: 378

Sheet No.: 190

Minor Civil Division: District 1

County of: Fayette

State of: Kentucky

Enumeration Date: 23 September 1850

Line No.: 20-24

Family No.: 1133

Name: Breckinridge, John C.

Age: 29

Sex: M

Occupation: Lawyer

Value of real estate: 900

Place of birth: Kentucky

Occupation from 4 Mar 1851 to 4 Mar 1855   U.S. Representative from 8th District of Kentucky  
Occupation from 4 Mar 1857 to 4 Mar 1861   14th Vice President of the United States  
Census 1 Jun 1860 Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States of America J. C. Breckinridge Household, 1860 Census 4a

Page No.: 108

Sheet No.: 555

Minor Civil Division: Ward 4, Lexington

County of: Fayette

State of: Kentucky

Enumeration Date: 14 July 1860

Post Office: Lexington

Line No.: 20-26

Family No.: 857

Name: Breckinridge, J. C.

Age: 39

Sex: M

Occupation: Vice President, U.S.A.

Value of real estate: 30,000

Value of personal estate: 3000

Place of birth: Kentucky

Occupation from 4 Mar 1861 to 4 Dec 1861   United States Senator from Kentucky  
Military Service 2 Nov 1861   American Civil War General  
Event Note

American Civil War General Officers:

Name:  John Cabell Breckinridge
State Served:  Kentucky
Highest Rank:  Major General
Birth Date:  1821
Death Date:  1875
Birth Place:  Lexington, Kentucky
Army:  Confederacy
Promotions:  Promoted to Full Brig-Gen
Promoted to Full Major-Gen



Brigadier general, P. A. C. S., November 2, 1861.
Major general, P. A. C. S., April 14, 1862.
Acting Secretary of War, February 6 to close of war, 1865.

Died May 17, 1875, at Lexington, Ky.

Commanding First Brigade of Kentucky Infantry.
Commanding division composed of the brigades of Brigadier Generals Daniel W. Adams, Helm and Stovall.
Commanding Reserve Corps, Army of the Mississippi, April 6 to August 18, 1862.
Commanding, September 8, 1862, division under Major General Van Dorn.
October 28, 1862. commanding Army of Middle Tennessee.
In December, 1862, commanding division in Polk's Corps, Army of Tennessee, composed of the brigades of Hanson, Palmer and Walker.
Commanding, August 20, 1863, division composed of the brigades of Helm, Preston, Brown and Adams.
Commanding, November 8, 1863, to December 15, 1863, Second Corps (Hardee's), Army of Tennessee.
Commanding, September 27, 1864, Department of East Tennessee and Trans-Alleghany Department. 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.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. XI, p. 227

Occupation from 6 Feb 1865 to 10 May 1865   Confederate States Secretary of War  
Census 1 Jun 1870 Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States of America John C. Breckinridge Household, 1870 Census 5a

Page No.: 105

Sheet No.: 248

Minor Civil Division: Lexington Ward 2

County of: Fayette

State of: Kentucky

Enumeration Date: 10 August 1870

Post Office: Lexington

Line No.: 11-13

Family No.: 670 (Insane asylum beginning on page 91)

Name: Breckinridge, John C.

Age: 49

Sex: M

Color: W

Occupation: Lawyer

Value of real estate: 55,000

Value of personal estate: 500

Place of birth: Kentucky

Male citizen 21 and over: /

Death 17 May 1875 Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States of America    
Burial   Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States of America    


Relation to main person Name Birth date Death date Relation within this family (if not by birth)
Father Breckinridge, Joseph Cabell24 Jul 17881 Sep 1823
Mother Smith, Mary Clay31 Aug 17879 Oct 1864
    Sister     Breckinridge, Frances Ann 24 Feb 1812 2 Nov 1837
    Sister     Breckinridge, Caroline Laurene 12 Oct 1813 4 Nov 1867
    Sister     Breckinridge, Mary Cabell 7 Jan 1815 13 Aug 1835
         Breckinridge, John Cabell 16 Jan 1821 17 May 1875
    Sister     Breckinridge, Laetitia Porter 26 Oct 1822 15 May 1852


Family of Breckinridge, John Cabell and Burch, Mary Cyrene

Married Wife Burch, Mary Cyrene ( * 16 Aug 1826 + 8 Oct 1907 )
Event Date Place Description Sources
Marriage 12 Dec 1843 Georgetown, Scott, Kentucky, United States of America    
Name Birth Date Death Date
Breckinridge, Joseph Cabell29 Dec 18441906
Breckinridge, Clifton Rodes22 Nov 18463 Dec 1932
Breckinridge, Frances Viley21 Jun 184831 Dec 1924
Breckinridge, John Cabell18491850
Breckinridge, John Witherspoon Owenabout Dec 18509 May 1892
Breckinridge, Mary Desha31 Mar 185413 Mar 1928

Family Map

Family Map

Source References

  1. Ruth Crider: Genealogy Data for Crider/McDowell Families
  2. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  3. U.S. 1850 Federal Census
      • Date: 1 Jun 1850
      • Page: Kentucky, District 1, Fayette county, Page 378/190, Lines 20-24
      • 1850 Census, Fayette county, Kentucky
  4. U.S. 1860 Federal Census
      • Date: 1 Jun 1860
      • Page: Kentucky, Ward 4, Lexington, Fayette county, Page 108, Lines 20-26
      • 1860 Census, Lexington, Fayette county, Kentucky
  5. U.S. 1870 Federal Census
      • Date: 1 Jun 1870
      • Page: Kentucky, Lexington, Ward 2, Fayette county, Page 105, Lines 11-13
      • 1870 Census, Lexington, Fayette county, Kentucky

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Last change was the 2020-02-21 17:18:43