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‘“ [298] can, by fighting if we must, and if we cannot hold our own, we will call on the general Government for aid.” ’ Further on he said: ‘I have strong hopes Kentucky will remain in the Union, and the most favorable feature of the whole matter is, that the Union men are now ready to abandon the position of armed neutrality, and enter heart and soul into the contest on our side.’

Buckner had not yet joined the Confederacy, but meanwhile held close relations with Governor Magoffin, whose military representative and adviser he was throughout this trying summer. In fact, as I have said, Buckner was the chief figure, and was very busy in those days with his coadjutors in maintaining the efficacious neutrality arrangement—worth more than an army of Kentuckians to the Confederacy—and perhaps fomenting opposition to the government. In furtherance of his purposes, whatever they were, he sought an interview with McClellan through Samuel Gill, a brother West Point graduate. As there could be no reasonable objection to the proposal, McClellan received Buckner and his friend. In an official letter to the War Department, dated June 11th, he states that the meeting took place at his house in Cincinnati on June 8th, and this is what he says of it:

‘We sat up all night, talking about matters of common interest. Buckner gave me his word that should any Tennessee troops cross the frontier of Kentucky, he would use all the force at his disposal to drive them out, and, failing in that, would call on me for assistance. He went to Tennessee after leaving here, to present that view to Governor Harris.’

It is to be noticed that in this letter McClellan makes no allusion to any pledges to Buckner in return for this assurance. Only a few days after this meeting, however, McClellan had news that at least two Tennessee regiments had orders or were already moving to occupy Island No.1, just below Cairo, and on June 11th, the same day he informed the department of the meeting at Cincinnati, he wrote promptly to both Magoffin and Buckner to notify them of this breach of ‘our understanding that you would not permit Tennessee troops to cross your frontier.’ Did ‘our understanding,’ then, simply mean Buckner's voluntary promise? Either the rumor of the Confederate advance was a false one, or McClellan's protest had the desired effect, for no invasion then occurred. Buckner's answer, if one was made, is not found among the official archives.

Subsequent events attached to this Cincinnati meeting of Buckner

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