General Don Carlos Buell.
Don Carlos Buell was born in Lowell, Ohio on March 23, 1818. When Don Carlos was
seven years old his father died and he went to live with an uncle in Lawrenceburg,
Indiana. Buell's primary education, in the public school system, was that of an
average student, but he was appointed to attend the United States Military Academy at
West Point. He graduated from this institution in 1841 and again, only as an average
student. His military career consisted of doing battles in three American Wars, the
Seminole War, the Mexican War, and the American Civil War. In the Mexican War,
he was severely wounded at the Battle of Churubusco. In the Civil War, he led Union
Armies in two great Civil War battles, Shiloh and Perryville. Prior to the Civil War,
his movement up the army ranks was slow. At the onset of the Civil War, promotions
came quickly and Don Carlos Buell became a major general on March 21, 1862. When
the Civil War started Carlos Buell was serving as an assistant adjutant general
and was quickly promoted to brigadier-general. As commander of the Department of
Ohio, Buell was also the leader of the Army of Ohio. During 1862, General Buell
played an important role in securing Kentucky and Tennessee for the Union. Buell's
Army Of The Ohio captured Nashville while Grant's Army advanced on Fort Henry and
Fort Donelson in Tennessee. Buell's men were on the way to help Grant when the
Confederate Army attacked Grant resulting in the Battle of Shiloh. The combined
forces of Grant and Buell were too much for the Confederate forces and they were
driven from the battlefield. At Shiloh, Buell's forces combined with General Grant's
forces and the Confederate forces retreated from the battle. Following Shiloh,
Buell led the Army of the Ohio against Corinth, Mississippi, and was advancing
toward Chattanooga when the Confederate Army, under Braxton Bragg, invaded Kentucky.
Buell fell back into Kentucky and caught Bragg at Perryville, Ky. In the battle
of Perryville, Buell was pitted against Confederate Army General Braxton Bragg.
After several days of fighting, the Confederate Army retreated with both Generals
claiming victor, although most historians agreed the outcome was more likely a draw.
For some reason, General Buell allowed the Confederate army to retreat without ensuing
and was relieved of his command in late 1862. When Buell failed to pursue the
withdrawing confederates, Buell was removed from his command. Afterwards a military
commission investigated, but never placed any blame on Buell. When Buell could not
be blamed for any inactivity in his role at Perryville, Buell was offered new battlefield
commands, but Buell refused. He was mustered out of the volunteers on May 23, 1864.
A few days later, on June 1, 1864, he resigned his regular commission as well.
General Buell had married in 1851 and after the Civil War, he just did not seem
to find a passion or a career that he wanted to pursue. He developed an interest
in the oil business and did some research on that matter. This led him to Muhlenberg
County and specifically Airdrie Hill. In 1886, at the ripe old age of forty-eight,
and after being married for fifteen years, he left Marietta, Ohio and settled in
Muhlenberg County, Kentucky on a belief and an idea that the Alexander land would
be an interesting place to search for oil reserves. By now, Mr. Alexander had since
moved from Airdrie Hill and had placed his property in the hands of a trustee. At
the time a well know farmer, "Squire" Roll, was overseeing the Alexander property.
General Buell and "Squire" Roll worked out a contract where General Buell was offered
a forty year oil and mineral lease on Alexander's seventeen thousand acres. Alexander
was to receive one tenth of all the oil and mineral rights obtained from the leased
land. General Buell now became the president of a new company called Airdrie Petroleum
Company. Later, after Mr. Alexander died, the heirs wanted to dispose of some of
their inherited property and worked out a deal where General Buell became the owner
of the Airdrie Hill complex plus about a thousand acres.
Several years before Lord Alexander purchased the Airdrie Hill property, a large
house had been built on the highest hill in the area and overlooking Green River.
Mr. Alexander made the mansion his home. General Buell, after purchasing the
property, lived in this house for thirty-two years until his death on 11/19/1898.
His wife died in 1881. From 1885 until 1889 General Buell was a Pension Agent for
Kentucky with his headquarters in Louisville. His work required a lot of travel,
but he continued to make Airdrie Hill his home and lived on his beloved property.
A few years after General Buell's death the mansion burned.
General Don Carols Buell wore many hats in work, in play, and in serving his
community. He was one of the early Commissioners of the State Agricultural College,
a role that he kept for several years. He was one of the early members of the Kentucky
State Historical Society. He served with and attended many conventions that were
connected with the development of the resources of the State. His disagreement and
eventual law suit against the State of Kentucky, on leasing the river systems and
more specifically the Green River, ended up with the Federal Government taking
control of the rivers. This one particular change, that he mostly caused alone,
should have been rewarded with some form of honor or medal. In 1890, at the age
of 72, General Buell was appointed to the Shiloh Military Park Commission and
served until his death. As can be imagined, he was always being requested to run
for higher office of the State and even for the presidency of the United States,
all of which he declined.
In play, General Buell enjoyed his two main hobbies, making things especially of
wood and taking care of the landscaping of his property. He had a small carpenter
shop where he spent a lot of time. His other joy was looking after the trees and
shrubbery in his park, which he always kept in good condition. He was mechanically
inclined and worked on new projects and inventions. He never patented anything,
although he had made a large dish-washing machine, a forerunner of what is used
in hotels today. General Buell's love of trees and shrubs never carried over to
actual farming. He rented, on a share basis, some of his land to others. His
share of the hay and corn was enough to supply his needs. He studied native
trees, wildlife, and wild birds. If all this was not enough to keep him busy, he
was the author of three published books. The three books are about the Civil War
and include-"Shiloh Reviewed," "Operations in North Carolina," and "East
Tennessee and the Campaign of Perryville," all of which were published in 1887.
During the Civil War, General Buell was presented a good saddle horse. He named
the horse "Shiloh" after the well known Civil War battle at Shiloh. This horse, a
favorite of General Buell, became a mainstay at Airdrie and was buried in 1880 on
the Airdrie Hill property. A rumor depicts General Buell riding a white horse up
the "Steps" at Airdrie Hill. I personally believe that the rumor is true and the
horse was named Shiloh. It has also been repeated that from about the time that
General Buell arrived at Airdrie until his death, he could be seen almost daily
riding a horse, not only on his farm in Muhlenberg County, but also in Ohio County.
In many cases, his wife and or his daughter would be seen riding with him. In
Shirley Smith's book, "History of Rockport and Echols", a part of a chapter is
written about Airdrie Hill. In her book, she writes the following:
Buell, in full military dress, on a huge white horse, often rode into Rockport to
pick up his mail. In a newspaper article, published in the Herald in 1884, the
Rockport correspondent wrote the following, "General Buell was here Thursday, looking
much older than when he first went to Airdrie. He often comes to Rockport, and I
gaze at him as long as he is in sight, knowing that I look upon one of the few
great men of the age. His gathering of an army, scattered all over Tennessee, and
thrusting it as it as it was, into Louisville, before the strategic Bragg, is a
feat that can not be eclipsed. With his cavalry boots and spurs, regulation hat and
cloak, and his superb military air, every inch a soldier. No one can help pausing
and starring at him."
General Buell, even as he aged, continued to walk and ride with a military air.
Everything that he did was done systematically. He died on November 19, 1898, near
Rockport, Kentucky. His body, and the body of his wife previously, were taken to
Rockport for transportation to St. Louis where they were buried.
Thanks for looking. Take care and hope all is well with you and your family members.