"Prior to the war, Breckinridge served as the US Vice-President under Buchanan. During the war he served as a general in the Confederate Army and later as the Confederate Secretary of War." John Breckinridge was one of the rare political generals who was good at both.
He was born in Kentucky, graduated college at 18, studied a bit more at what is now Princeton (then the College of New Jersey), and then studied the law. He set up practice in Lexington, Kentucky and soon moved in influential circles. He served' in the Mexican War as major of the Third Kentucky Volunteers but the regiment never saw action. He went from there into Kentucky politics as a state representative.