Military Wiki
Joseph Cabell Breckinridge, Sr.
Born (1842-01-14)January 14, 1842
Baltimore, Maryland
Died 1920
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial Lexington Cemetery
Title Inspector General of the United States Army
Predecessor Roger Jones
Successor Peter D. Vroom
Children Joseph Cabell Breckinridge, Jr., Henry Skillman Breckinridge
Parents Robert Jefferson Breckinridge & Ann Sophonisba Preston

Joseph Cabell Breckinridge, Sr. (1842–1920) 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. His cousin, John C. Breckenridge, 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 son of Robert Jefferson Breckinridge, a Presbyterian minister, politician, public office holder and abolitionist, fought for the Union.[1]

Joseph C. Breckinridge, Sr., was born in 1842, a member of the prominent Breckinridge family, in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, Robert Jefferson Breckinridge, a minister, was one of the most distinguished divines and one of the most prolific writers of the century; a leader of the Kentucky emancipation party in 1849; and a strong Union man in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War. Joining the Army in August 1861, Joseph C. Breckinridge 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.[2]

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. Tragically his eldest son Joseph Cabell Breckinridge was killed while serving on the USS Cushing (TB-1), Ensign Breckinridge was washed overboard and drowned in Cuban waters. General Breckinridge was president of the District of Columbia Society and vice-president general of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was also a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and the Military Order of Foreign Wars.

Major General Breckinridge was married to Louise Ludlow Dudley, daughter of Ethelbert Ludlow Dudley of Lexington, Kentucky in July 1868.


  1. 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.


  • The Cabells and Their Kin By Alexander Brown
Military offices
Preceded by
Roger Jones
Inspector General of the U. S. Army
January 30, 1889-April 11, 1903
Succeeded by
Peter D. Vroom

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