Don Carlos Buell was born in Marietta, Ohio, on 23rd March, 1818. He graduated from West Point in 1841, and saw action in the Seminole War (1838-42) and the Mexican War (1846-48). For the next twelve years he served in the United States Army and eventually reached the rank of assistant adjutant general.
On the outbreak of the American Civil War Buell helped organize Union Army troops around Washington. In August, 1861 he was given command of a division of the Army of Potomac and in November succeeded William Sherman as head of the Department of the Ohio. He also took part in the battle at Shiloh but as a result of the campaign led by Braxton Bragg, was forced to retreat from central Tennessee. After the battle of Perryville (October, 1862), Buell was replaced by William Rosecrans.
Complaints were made against Buell's unwillingness to follow orders from Washington and in November, 1862, Lewis Wallace was asked to led and investigation into the case. The report was never published but was thought to be highly critical of Buell's decision at Perryville not to pursue the retreating enemy. Despite the efforts by Ulysses S. Grant, Buell was never offered another command and he resigned from the army in June, 1864.
After the war Buell moved to Kentucky and became president of the Green River Iron Company. Don Carlos Buell died in Rockport, Kentucky, on 19th November, 1898.