The Civil War in Primary Resources: An Exhibition by the Special Collections Library


image preview

Creation Date



Proclamation issued by Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner upon occupation of Bowling Green, 1861.


The Legislature of Kentucky have been faithless to the will of the people. They have endeavored to make your gallant State a fortress, in which, under the guise of neutrality, the armed forces of the United States might securely prepare to subjugate alike the people of Kentucky and the Southern States.

It was not until after months of covert and open violation of your neutrality with --- encampments of Federal troops of the Confederacy, on the invitation of the people of Kentucky, occupied a defensive post in your State. In doing so, the commander with a similar movement on the part of the Federal forces, whenever the Legislature of Kentucky shall undertake to enforce against both belligerents the “strict neutrality” which they have so often declared.

I return amongst you, citizens of Kentucky, at the head of a force, the advance of which is composed entirely of Kentuckians. W do not come to molest any citizen, whatever may be his political opinions. Unlike the agents of the Northern despotism who seek to reduce us to the condition of dependent vassals, we believe that the recognition of the civil rights of the citizens is the foundation of Constitutional liberty, and that the claim of the citizens is the foundation of Constitutional liberty, and that the claim of the President of the United States to declare martial law; to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; and to convert every barrack and every prison in the land into a Bastile [sic], is nothing but the claim which other tyrants have assumed to subjugate a free people.

The Confederate States occupy Bowling Green as a defensive position. I renew the pledges of the commanders of other columns of Confederate troops to retire from the territory of Kentucky on the same conditions which will govern their movements.

I further give you my own assurance that the force under my command will be used to aid the government of Kentucky in carrying out the “strict neutrality” desired by its people, whenever they undertake to enforce it against the two belligerents alike.

S.B. Buckner, Brig. General CSA

Bowling Green, Sept. 18, 1861


U.S. Civil War 1861-1865, Bowling Green, Kentucky


Image Location