John Cabell Breckinridge (January 16, 1821 – May 17, 1875) was an American lawyer, politician, and soldier. He represented Kentucky in both houses of Congress and became the 14th and youngest-ever Vice President of the United States, serving from 1857 to 1861. He served in the U.S. Senate during the outbreak of the American Civil War, but was expelled after joining the Confederate Army. He was appointed Confederate Secretary of War in 1865.
Breckinridge fled behind Confederate lines. He was commissioned a brigadier general and then expelled from the Senate. Following the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, he was promoted to major general, and in October he was assigned to the Army of Mississippi under Braxton Bragg. After Bragg charged that Breckinridge’s drunkenness had contributed to defeats at Stone River and Missionary Ridge, and after Breckinridge joined many other high-ranking officers in criticizing Bragg, he was transferred to the Trans-Allegheny Department, where he won his most significant victory in the 1864 Battle of New Market. After participating in Jubal Early’s campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley, Breckinridge was charged with defending supplies in Tennessee and Virginia. In February 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed him Secretary of War. Concluding that the war was hopeless, he urged Davis to arrange a national surrender. After the fall of Richmond, Breckinridge ensured the preservation of Confederate records. He then escaped the country and lived abroad for more than three years. When President Andrew Johnson extended amnesty to all former Confederates in 1868, Breckinridge returned to Kentucky, but resisted all encouragement to resume his political career. War injuries sapped his health, and he died in 1875. Breckinridge is regarded as an effective military commander. Though well-liked in Kentucky, he was reviled by many in the North as a traitor. (Wikipedia)