Joseph Cabell Breckinridge Sr.
Joseph C Breckinridge.jpg
Inspector General of the United States Army
In office
January 30, 1889 – April 11, 1903
Preceded byRoger Jones
Succeeded byPeter D. Vroom
Personal details
Joseph Cabell Breckinridge

January 14, 1842
Baltimore, Maryland
DiedAugust 18, 1920(1920-08-18) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C.
Resting placeLexington Cemetery
Louise Ludlow Dudley
(died 1911)
ChildrenJoseph Cabell Breckinridge Jr.
Ethelbert Dudley Breckinridge
Scott Dudley Breckinridge
Henry Skillman Breckinridge
Parent(s)Robert Jefferson Breckinridge
Ann Sophonisba Preston
Military service
Years of service1861 - 1903
RankMajor general
Battles/warsU.S. Civil War
Spanish–American War
AwardsCivil War Campaign Medal
Indian Campaign Medal
Spanish Campaign Medal

Joseph Cabell Breckinridge Sr. (January 14, 1842 – August 18, 1920) was a Union Army officer from Kentucky during the American Civil War. In later life, he became a brigadier general in the U.S. Regular Army and Inspector General of the Army as well as a major general of volunteers in the Spanish–American War.

Early life

Breckinridge was born in 1842, a member of the prominent Breckinridge family, in Baltimore, Maryland. His parents were Anne Sophonisba (née Preston) Breckinridge (1803–1844) and Robert Jefferson Breckinridge (1800–1871), a Presbyterian minister, politician, public office holder and abolitionist who was one of the most distinguished divines and one of the most prolific writers of the century. His father served as a leader of the Kentucky emancipation party in 1849 and was a strong Union man in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War.[1]

His cousin, John C. Breckinridge, a Confederate major general and former Vice President of the United States, and his two oldest brothers fought for the Confederacy, while he and another younger brother fought for the Union.[2]


Further information: Breckinridge family in the American Civil War

In August 1861, Breckinridge joined the U.S. Army and was appointed an aide-de-camp to George H. Thomas, and served with him at Mill Springs and Shiloh. While serving at Corinth, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the 2nd US Artillery. He served in the Atlanta Campaign, and was captured following the death of James B. McPherson. After being exchanged, he served out the remainder of the war as a mustering officer, and received brevet promotions to captain (July 1864) and major (March 1865). He received promotions to the full ranks of captain and major in 1874 and 1881 respectively.[3]

On January 30, 1889, Breckinridge was promoted to brigadier general and Inspector General of the Army. He was promoted to Major General of volunteers in the Spanish–American War. He served on the staff of V Corps in Cuba and was engaged in the battles of El Caney and San Juan Hill, where he had a horse shot from under him.

General Breckinridge retired from the Army on April 12, 1903, having been promoted to major general the day before.[4]

Personal life

Major General Breckinridge was married to Louise Ludlow Dudley (1849–1911), daughter of Ethelbert Ludlow Dudley of Lexington, Kentucky in July 1868. Together, they were the parents of:[1][5]

General Breckinridge was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). He served as president of the District of Columbia Society in 1894 and as President General of the National Society of the SAR from 1900 until 1901.[11] He was also a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Grand Army of the Republic and the Military Order of Foreign Wars.[12]

Dates of rank

See also


  1. ^ a b Brown, Alexander The Cabells and Their Kin: A Memorial Volume of History, Biography, and Genealogy (1895).
  2. ^ See generally Hollingsworth, Randolph. "Breckinridge, Robert Jefferson" In Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History, edited by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. ISBN 0-393-04758-X. pp. 279–280.
  3. ^ Powell, William Henry; Shippen, Edward (1892). Officers of the Army and Navy (regular) who served in the Civil War. Philadelphia, Pa.: L.R. Hamersly & Co. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  4. ^ Hollingsworth, Randolph. "Breckinridge, Robert Jefferson" In Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History, edited by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. ISBN 0-393-04758-X. pp. 279–280.
  5. ^ Dorman, John Frederick (1982). The Prestons of Smithfield and Greenfield in Virginia: descendants of John and Elizabeth (Patton) Preston through five generations. Filson Club. p. 113. ISBN 9780960107216. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  6. ^ Office, United States Adjutant-General's (1920). Congressional Medal of Honor. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 909. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  7. ^ "Ethelbert Breckinridge - Recipient - Military Times Hall Of Valor". Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  8. ^ "COL. L. C. BRECKINRIDGE Assistant Corporation Counsel". New York Daily News. 14 Oct 1941. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  9. ^ "DR. S. D. BRECKINRIDGE, GYNECOLOGIST, WAS 59; Kentucky Practitioner, Former National Fencing Champion" (PDF). The New York Times. 2 August 1941. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Col. Henry Breckinridge Dies; Ex-Assistant Secretary of War; Wilson Cabinet Aide at 27-- Was Intermediary in the Lindbergh Kidnapping" (PDF). The New York Times. 3 May 1960. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  11. ^ "NSSAR Presidents General | National Society, Sons of the American Revolution". Archived from the original on 2011-10-26.
  12. ^ "Breckinridge Biographies". 17 September 2010. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
Military offices Preceded byRoger Jones Inspector General of the U. S. Army 1889–1903 Succeeded byPeter D. Vroom