Simon Bolivar Buckner thought he knew US Grant… They roomed together at West Point, formed a strong friendship, and Buckner was the Best Man at Grant’s wedding in 1848. In February 1862, they stood on opposite sides of the walls of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. Grant’s army outnumbered Buckner’s garrison- and the noose was growing tighter. At the Confederate council of war on the evening of February 15th, Buckner convinced his fellow officers that his old friend Grant would offer generous surrender terms… not quite…. the legend was born.
General S. B. BUCKNER,
SIR: Yours of this date, proposing armistice and appointment of commissioners to settle terms of capitulation, is just received. No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
February 16, 1862.
Brig. Gen. U.S. GRANT,
SIR: The distribution of the forces under my command incident to an unexpected change of commanders and the overwhelming force under your command compel me, notwithstanding the brilliant success of the Confederate arms yesterday, to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you propose.
I am, sir, your very obedient servant,
S. B. BUCKNER,
Brigadier. General, C. S. Army.