The Samuel Buchanan who emigrated from Ulster was the father of John Buchanan, who was born in Washington County, Virginia, in 1721, and the grandfather of Samuel Buchanan III, who was born in Virginia on 13 March 1778.
Sumner A Cunningham's Ulster-Scots ancestors were therefore from Londonderry, Tyrone and Donegal. They had lived through the troubled times of the Williamite War and the Siege of Derry and they left Ulster in the early 18th century.
With the advent of the Civil War, Sumner A Cunningham joined the local home guard in October 1861 and then in November his unit was assimilated into company B of the 41st Tennessee Infantry in the Confederate States Army. He saw his first fighting at Fort Donelson the following February but was captured when the post fell and spent several months in Camp Morton in Indianapolis before being exchanged. After their release Cunningham and his fellow Tennesseans joined General Joseph E Johnston in Mississippi.
The 41st missed the siege of Vicksburg and the subsequent surrender of Pemberton's army but did participate in the siege of Jackson a few days later. Cunningham then missed two critical battles due to sickness. While his comrades fought under Bragg at Chickamagua, he was suffering from malaria and when he rejoined them for the siege of Chattanooga, he missed the decisive battle at Missionary Ridge, again because of illness.
Promoted to the rank of sergeant major, Cunningham fought through the entire Atlanta Campaign and Hood's foray into Middle Tennessee, including the battles of Franklin and Nashville, but in December1864 he went home and ended his military service.
In 1872 Cunningham published a limited edition of his reminiscences of life in the 41st Tennessee Infantry, which give a good overall picture of the life of a western Confederate soldier. This was edited and republished in 2001 by Dr John A Simpson.
After the war Cunningham returned to Shelbyville and worked for a time as a merchant but he had an interest in journalism and he bought and edited the Shelbyville Commercial (1871), Chattanooga Times (1876) and Catersville Express (1879). In 1883 he started a monthly magazine called Our Day,which was publsihed in New York but directed at southern audiences. However each business venture ended in financial failure and in 1885 he joined the Nashville American as a staff correspondent.