Major General John C. Breckinridge

Major General John C. Breckinridge was sent to Louisiana in July, 1862 to regain control of southeastern Louisiana. It was realized by the Confederates that if Port Hudson was established as a fortress, it along with Vicksburg could deny the Union control of the lower Mississippi River, and keep the flow of supplies and men coming from the west via the Red River.  On August 5, he tried, but failed, to retake Baton Rouge.  A few days later, he sent Brigadier General Daniel Ruggles to occupy Port Hudson and to begin construction of fortifications.  Breckinridge followed soon afterwards and took charge of the forces at Port Hudson.  However, Breckinridge was ordered to Kentucky, and on August 18 he turned the command over to Ruggles, and left the next day.  Soon afterwards, command of Port Hudson passed to Brigadier General William Beall, who oversaw the buildup and construction of the fortifications until the arrival of Major General Franklin Gardner in December of that year.

John Cabell Breckinridge, born 16 Jan 1821, was a Kentuckian who had been a successful politician before the war.  He was a Representative and Senator from Kentucky, had been elected Vice-President of the United States in 1856, and unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in 1860.  When Kentucky sided with the North in 1861, he went south and was given the rank of  brigadier general in the Confederate Army, soon becoming a major general.  He participated in the battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg before coming to Louisiana.

He served as Secretary of War in the Cabinet of the Confederate States from January until April 1865.  After the war he resided in Europe until 1868, then returned to Lexington, Ky. and resumed the practice of law.  He was also vice president of the Elizabethtown, Lexington Big Sandy Railroad Co.  Breckinridge died in Lexington, Ky. on May 17, 1875, and was buried in Lexington Cemetery.


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