Buckner, Simon Bolivar, 1886-1945

Alternative names
Birth 1886-07-18
Death 1945-06-18

Biographical notes:

From the Kentucky Encyclopedia on S.B. Buckner: Simon Bolivar Buckner, governor of Kentucky during 1887-91, was born at Glen Lily, the family estate near Munfordville, Kentucky, on April 1, 1823. When his parents, Aylett Hartswell and Elizabeth Ann (Morehead) Buckner, moved to Arkansas, they left him behind to attend schools in Greenville and Hopkinsville before he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1840. After graduation Buckner saw active duty with Gen. Winfield Scott during the Mexican War . In 1850 he married Mary Jane Kingsbury. In 1855 he resigned his commission to help his father-in-law with his extensive business interests. He returned to Kentucky in 1858 from Chicago, and two years later became head of the state militia. Buckner tried to preserve the state's neutrality in 1861, but when that failed he rejected a Union commission, becoming a Confederate brigadier general. He led troops to Bowling Green, Kentucky, in September 1861, and after a confused command situation left him in charge, he surrendered Fort Donelson to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in February 1862. After a prisoner exchange, Buckner saw extensive duty in the western theater, including the 1862 Confederate invasion of Kentucky; he was promoted to major general and became involved in a bitter controversy with Gen. Braxton Bragg. Sent to the trans-Mississippi theater in 1864, Buckner was promoted to lieutenant general. On May 26, 1865, he surrendered Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith's army. He was a New Orleans journalist and businessman until allowed to return to Kentucky in 1868.

From the description of Kentucky Civil War circulars. 1861. (Kentucky Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 191699363

Simon Bolivar Buckner (July 18, 1886 - June 18, 1945), army officer, was born at the family home, Glen Lily, near Munfordville, Ky., the only child of Simon Bolivar Buckner [q.v.], West Point graduate and Confederate general, and his second wife, Delia Hayes Claiborne of Richmond, Va. His father, who was sixty-three when young Buckner was born, was afterward governor of Kentucky, 1887-91, and vice-presidential nominee on the "Gold Democrat" ticket in 1896. The boy was sent at the age of sixteen to the Virginia Military Institute and two years later received an appointment to West Point. Graduating in February 1908, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry. His early assignments followed the customary pattern, including tours of duty in the Philippines and on the Mexican border. Much to his disappointment, he spent the World War I period in the United States. An early aviation enthusiast, he was detailed to the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps in 1917, held various training commands, and was then assigned to the Air Service operations section in Washington. Like many army officers, Buckner spent a good part of the interwar years at school, as both student and teacher. For four years, 1919-23, he was at West Point teaching tactics to the cadets. The next two years he spent as a student first at the Infantry School at Fort Benning and then at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, where he served an additional three years as instructor. Then came four years at the Army War College in Washington, first as a student (1928-29) and then as executive officer. In 1932, as a lieutenant colonel, he returned to West Point as instructor (1932-33) and commandant of cadets (1933-36). With this preparation, Buckner moved rapidly through a succession of command assignments, earning his colonel''s eagles in January 1937. His first major independent command came in July 1940, when he was ordered to Alaska to organize the defense of that area against a threatening enemy across the Pacific. Within three months he was a brigadier general; he was promoted to major general in August 1941 in recognition of his achievement in building a viable Alaskan Defense Command. In this assignment, where he was under the navy''s operational control, Buckner demonstrated an ability to work harmoniously with his sister service that was undoubtedly a factor in his subsequent assignment. The Alaskan theatre first came under attack in June 1942, when the Japanese, as part of their Midway assault, sent a strong naval task force against Dutch Harbor. Army and navy planes attacked the approaching Japanese and drove them back with heavy losses, but not before they had succeeded in landing troops on Attu and Kiska in the Aleutians. The next year witnessed a series of moves by the Americans to drive the enemy from these bases, culminating in the capture of Attu in May 1943 and the reoccupation of Kiska. For his role in these operations, Buckner was promoted to lieutenant general and received the Distinguished Service Medal. In June 1944 Buckner was ordered to the Central Pacific as commander-designate of the new Tenth Army to prepare for the projected invasion of Okinawa. Here his ability to get along with the other services proved invaluable. Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner, commander of the Joint Expeditionary Force for Okinawa and not one to give praise lightly, later wrote that Buckner "enjoyed the complete confidence and devotion not only of his own Army troops, but also of the Marine Corps divisions and Navy land contingents which formed parts of the Tenth Army, and also of the naval and air forces operating in [its] support. . . ." The attack on Okinawa began with a landing on Apr. 1, 1945, the largest amphibious operation of the Pacific war. In two and a half months of bitter fighting the Tenth Army succeeded in pushing the desperate Japanese defenders back to the southwest tip of the island. It was there, on the afternoon of June 18, only a few days before the end of the campaign, that General Buckner met his death. While watching the progress of the battle from a forward observation position, he was struck in the chest by a piece of coral dislodged by a Japanese shell and died almost immediately. He was buried on Okinawa, but four years later his body was transferred to the Frankfort (Ky.) Cemetery, next to his father''s grave.

From the description of Buckner, Simon Bolivar, 1886-1945 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10679535

Buckner was a Major General stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, when he wrote this manual.

From the description of Operations in snow and extreme cold, 1941. (Dartmouth College Library). WorldCat record id: 237352319


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  • Militia
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • Military
  • Winter warfare


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  • Louisville (Ky.) (as recorded)
  • Arctic regions (as recorded)