Gabriel Lewis Buckner

Gabriel Lewis Buckner was born on July 17, 1838 in Jacksonville, Illinois, to James Francis Buckner and Gabriella Hawkins. By 1840, the family had moved to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where James became a prominent lawyer and Whig Party politician. He spent eight years in the state House of Representatives, served as a delegate to Whig’s national convention in 1844, and represented Christian County in the state senate from 1848 to 1859. He owned 6 slaves in 1840, and that number soared to at least 61 by the outbreak of the Civil War.

Gabriel grew up in Hopkinsville and received his early education from a local Presbyterian minister. He enrolled at UVA in 1856 to study Latin, math, and modern languages, but poor health forced him to withdraw from the university after only a year. He then returned to Kentucky, where he helped manage the family’s plantation. During the secession crisis, Gabriel and his father remained fiercely loyal to the Union. In a speech in Christian County, James insisted that, “If the Union is lost, all is lost. Of what use are my slaves if we have no government? Life itself will be worthless if this glorious Union is destroyed.” James began recruiting a Unionist regiment during the summer of 1861, provisioning the men for weeks at his own expense. A Confederate raid, however, forced the unarmed volunteers to disperse, and James was temporarily taken prisoner. Although the terms of his parole prevented him from re-enlisting, he continued to champion the Union war effort and ultimately joined the Republican Party.

Following his father’s example, Gabriel enlisted for one year in the Union Army on January 20, 1863, and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the 8th Kentucky Cavalry. He primarily served in Kentucky and Tennessee, skirmishing against Confederate guerrillas. In July 1863, his regiment pursued Confederate General John Hunt Morgan through Indiana and Ohio, and they were present at Morgan’s surrender near Salineville, Ohio, on July 26. In September 1863, Buckner’s regiment mustered out at Russellville, Kentucky.

He returned to the army in March 1864, when he became a captain in the 52nd Kentucky Mounted Infantry. The regiment fought against Nathan Bedford Forrest that spring and faced John Hunt Morgan in the Battle of Mount Sterling in June 1864. Buckner was taken prisoner on the first day of the battle but managed to escape in the confusion of the second day. He was detailed as post inspector in Louisville that winter, and on March 11, 1865, he mustered out of service.  

Buckner began studying law after the war, and in 1868 he graduated from the University of Louisville. In 1869, his father received an appointment as Louisville’s internal revenue collector, and Buckner served as his chief deputy. When the elder Buckner retired, President Chester A. Arthur named Gabriel to the position. He served as a delegate to at least two Republican National Conventions. An early biographer praised him as a “man of firm conviction and decided action”—a man who saw the Republican Party as the “legitimate successor of the Federal and Whig parties, and [gave] it the same loyal support that their ancestors gave to the old parties.” He also joined the Loyal Legion and served as president of the Society of the Sons of the Revolution.

Buckner launched a real estate business in 1887 and soon "established [a] reputation for integrity." The following year, on October 10, 1888, he married Jeanette Davis, the daughter of a prominent Louisville merchant. He died of Bright’s disease and nephritis eight years later, on October 21, 1896. Following his death, Buckner’s wife received a pension of $12 a month beginning May 9, 1908. By May 23, 1928, her pension had increased to $40 a month. She died March 31, 1933, at her brother-in-law George W. Kittredge’s home in Yonkers, New York.


Obituary of Gabriel L. Buckner

Name:Buckner, Gabriel Lewis
Alternative names:
  • Buckner, Lewis (alternative name)
  • Soldier
  • UVA (Union)
8th Regiment Kentucky Volunteer CavalryG
52nd Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Mounted InfantryK
Branch of service:Army
Commission1863-01-20Hopkinsville, KYaccepted25
Muster In1863-01-20Hopkinsville, KY25
Commission1863-12-01Hopkinsville, KY25
Muster In1864-03-03Franklin, KY
Muster Out1865-03-11Mustered Out
Residence at UVA:
UVA Begin Year:1856
UVA End Year:1857
Residence at enlistment:Hopkinsville, KY
Rank In:Second Lieutenant
Rank Out:Captain
Highest rank achieved:Captain
Person 1Person 2NumberRelation Type
Buckner, Gabriel LewisBuckner, Gabriel Lewis1178349application-invalid
Buckner, Gabriel Lewisnoneapplication-minor
Buckner, Gabriel Lewisnoneapplication-parent
Buckner, Gabriel LewisBuckner, Jeanette655356application-widow
Buckner, Gabriel LewisBuckner, Gabriel Lewis1054869certificate-invalid
Buckner, Gabriel LewisBuckner, Jeanette652991certificate-widow
Birth date:1838-07-17
Birth date certainty:Certain
Birth place:Jacksonville, IL
Death date:1896-10-21
Death place:
Causes of death:disease: Bright's Disease, disease: nephritis
Occupations:Farmer, Internal Revenue Office
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Buckner, Jeanettewife ofBuckner, Gabriel Lewis

Compiled Service Records for Gabriel L. Buckner, RG 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.; Pension Records for Gabriel L. Buckner, RG 15, National Archives and Records Administration; United States Census, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880, accessed through; The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), October 20, 1895; UVA Student Catalogue, Jefferson's University: Early Life; Capt. Lewis Buckner Elected President and G. D. Todd Vice President; Josiah Stoddard Johnston, Memorial History of Louisville from its First Settlement to the Year 1896 (1896); Thomas Speed, The Union Cause in Kentucky, 1860-1865 (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1907); "James Francis Buckner," Civil War Governors of Kentucky Project, accessed through