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Note to General John C. Breckinridge

Identifier: Ms-2009-062

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a note written in December 1864 to General John C. Breckinridge. The writer asks for Breckinridge to reply with a permit to ship a carriage, adding "I apprehend danger of it being captured, if it remains here." On the front of the note has been added "granted." The back of the note has the date of receipt and the send date of the permit.


  • 1864

Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

The note is signed "Davis." The first name is difficult to read and searches on several different possibilities did not turn up any likely matches in Federal or State Census records or genealogy searches. As a result, no other information is available on this person.

John Cabell Breckinridge was born in Cabell's Dale, near Lexington, Kentucky, on January 16, 1821. After attending school in Kentucky and New Jersey, he was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1840. He married Mary Cyrene Burch in 1843. He served as a major in the 3rd Kentucky Volunteers during the Mexican War from 1847-1848. He came from family with a history of political involvement and following the Mexican War, launched a political career of his own. In 1849 he was elected to the State Senate in Kentucky and quickly moved up to the national level.

Breckinridge served as a Representative in the 32nd and 33rd United States Congresses from 1851-1855. Under President James Buchanan, he served as the youngest Vice President (36 at the time he took office), and ran an unsuccessful Presidential campaign of his own in 1860 against his friends Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. He returned to the United States Senate in March of 1861. He tried to maintain and promote neutrality, but when Kentucky sided with the Union, Breckinridge, too, was forced to choose a side. In doing so, he became the only Vice President to take up arms against the United States government. He was expelled from the Senate in December of the same year for his Confederate sympathies.

Early in 1862 Breckinridge joined the Confederate army as a Brigadier General. He was soon promoted to Major General. His first command was the 1st Kentucky Brigade ("Orphan Brigade"). He fought in a number of significant battles, including Shiloh, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. In 1864, Breckinridge helped lead the charge into Washington DC, which was eventually driven back. Jefferson Davis appointed him to the post of Confederate Secretary of War in January 1865, but by then it was too late for Breckinridge to do much for the Confederate cause.

At the end of the Civil War, he fled to Cuba, Europe, and then to Canada to avoid prosecution. Following a blanket pardon in late 1868, Breckinridge and his family returned to Kentucky in February 1869 after an eight year absence. Breckinridge retired from politics and public life in general, going back to law, instead. He also served at the president of the Elizabethtown, Lexington, Big Sandy Railroad Company. He died May 17, 1875 at age 54, and is buried in the Lexington Cemetery.

Additional information from:

  1. Biographical Dictionary of the U.S. Congress
  2. "John Cabell Breckinridge, 14th Vice President (1857-1861)."United States Senate. Breckinridge Biography


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


This collection consists of a note written in 1864 to General John C. Breckinridge asking for permission to ship a carriage to prevent its theft.


The collection is arranged by material type.

Source of Acquisition

The [Note to General John C. Breckinridge] was purchased by Special Collections in March 2009.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Note to General John C. Breckinridge by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the [Note to General John C. Breckinridge] commenced and was completed in April 2009.

A Guide to the Note to General John C. Breckinridge, 1864
Kira A. Dietz
2009 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English

Revision Statements

  • 2020-11-03: Finding aid notes updated to new department standards. juliags

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US