Kentucky Brothers

Tom & Abraham Buford

The Nashville World
July 12, 1884

Incidents in the Career of two Kentucky Brothers

"Poor General Buford!" remarked Capt. C. of Edgefield. (Capt C. would be Thomas T. Crittenden.)  "His was a big, brave, heroin nature and before his unhappy taking-off he no doubt well weighed the question as to whether it were not better to go down to a suicide's grave than carry longer the burden of old age and poverty, and walk the downward way before the proud man's scorn, the rich man's contumely.  We can perhaps, not fully realize the difference in the treatment which he both saw and felt, accorded by those who should have been nearest to him in his need.  He could scarcely ever brook control - how could he, the brook the stinted hospitality, to say nothing of the open slight, from those who had once, very likely, fawned and flattered and feasted at his own generous board.  Losing, after the war, his wife, next his son, a young man, an only child, whom he loved. (this is not correct - his son died during a Small Pox epidemic in 1872 and Amanda, his wife, died years later) With more than father passion and with more than mother pain.  As if misfortune had marked him for her cruelest shafts, the loss of his property followed by the usual route, also, - his friends!

"I was a cadet at the Kentucky Military Institute," Captain C. continued, after a pause, "from 1833 to 1836 - thirty years ago.  Charley Buford - now of Texas - was a classmate of mine and Will F.'s (a Tennessean), and we three were almost inseparable.  Charley Buford's father resided in Woodford County.  He was a brother of General Abe Buford, whose hospitable home was not far from General Buford's magnificent Kentucky farm, Bosque Bonita.  Will F. and I often visited that wealthy neighborhood in company with our classmate and host Charley Buford, himself as noble a specimen of young manhood as I ever knew.  From his father's we three, during such visits, often rode over to his Uncle Abe's where we felt equally welcome.  There we sometimes met, also , that other unfortunate brother, to whom, with his latest breath, General Abe Buford was so tenderly attached.  I refer to Col. Tom Buford, who a few years ago (as you know) shot down Judge Elliott on the streets of Frankfort for having just before decided against him (in the appellate court) that case which took from him (according to law, no doubt, for Judge E. could not have decided otherwise) the last acre of his and his sister's real estate and left them paupers.  Col Tom Buford was pronounced insane, and is now breathing away his last unhappy hours at the Anchorage Asylum, near Louisville, a wreck of what he once was, and scarcely recognized - so great has been the change - by those who have known him best and longest.

In the Spring of 1854 or 1855 Will, Charley and I ran up to Lexington to attend the races at the center of Eden's Garden, and of course General Abe and Colonel Tom were there with their invincible thoroughbreds, Colonel Tom, from a sudden quarrel that grew out of the excitement of the race course, one afternoon, played a duet on pistols with an adversary, whose name I can not now recall, though I long remembered it.  General Abe (his brother) and I were standing about forty or fifty feet off when the fusillade began, and remained (especially Gen. Abe) apparently unconcerned, for, though his own brother was hotly engaged, the old hero was standing, according to the rules of Kentucky chivalry, to see a fair fight and let the best man win.  Col. Tom struck his adversary once or twice in several shots, not seriously wounding him.  When all the chambers of his enemy's pistol were emptied, a friend who stood near, and not having the fear of Brother Abe before his eyes, ran up and thrust a fresh weapon in the hands of Tom Buford's assailant.  Gen. Abe, believing too firmly in "fair play" to thus permit two men to combine against one, and that one 'brother Tom,' at once jerked out a knife of glittering blade and made a rush for the too busy interloper.  More quickly than it takes to tell it, Gen. Abe, with one hand had seized the poor fellow by the hair, and, like a flash of lightning and with the dexterity of an Indian, made a circular incision on the crown of his head (a la Sitting Bull), and, giving the hair a sudden twist, lifted off as neat a scalp as one would undergo a days ride to see."

"Now Damn you!" said Gen Abe, as he coolly tossed his Indian trophy to one side and released his victim "Now go Damn you!  I guess hair restorative won't bring out the wool on your head again soon."

The frightened fellow, never having experienced that kind of warfare, gathered his head in both hands and ran off, yelling as if Capt Jack and all the Modocs were close upon his heels.

"I was completely horrified - it being the first scalp I had ever seen taken - and riding home that evening I asked Gen. Buford how he could do such a barbarous thing.  "He ought to have attended to his own business," he replied.  "I was willing, though my brother was engaged, to hands off and let them fight it out, and when he ran up and handed his friend a pistol to kill Tom with, I would have been justified in killing him."

After all, we mused (parting company with Capt. C.) - after all, perhaps General Buford thought he was letting his enemy off rather softly.  Having graduated at West Point, he spent several years among the Indians on the plains, and had, it seems, become so dexterous in the scalper's art that his finer sensibilities were blunted on this point, since man is pretty much a creature of education and of his surroundings.  It is true that to scalp one - to leave in the center of the crown a disk about two inches in diameter - is not so bad as to kill a man.  It is very probable that General Abe's first impulse, when he ran to his brother's assistance, was to strike madly at some vital point, but after a second thought generously concluded to teach a lesson which his pupil could live to remember.

Captain Jack was a leader of the Modoc Indians
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And my ALL-TIME favorite ~ TRIVIA

~~~Clouds by Torie~~~

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