Andrew H. Buchanan, early professor of mathematics and civil engineering and topographer-surveyor, was born in Boonsboro, Arkansas, on June 28, 1828. He attended Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, and received the A.B. degree in 1853. The following year, Buchanan accepted a professorship in civil engineering at Cumberland. He remained there until 1862, when he became a topographic engineer with the Confederate army, attaining the rank of captain. In September 1869, Buchanan returned to Cumberland University as Professor of Mathematics and Engineering.
Buchanan contributed to Tennessee culture, both as a textbook author and teacher, and as a topographer and surveyor. From 1854 to 1911 virtually everyone who attended Cumberland University enrolled in his mathematics courses, and his influence on the discipline reached far beyond the campus. His trigonometry textbook, Plane and Spherical Trigonometry, eventually entered the national textbook market and influenced instruction at many schools.
Buchanan became nationally known for his work as a topographer-surveyor. After sharpening his skills during the Civil War, from 1876 through 1896 he spent his summers doing topographic surveying for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. In 1902-3 he helped resolve the boundary line between Virginia and Tennessee. Buchanan retired in 1911 and died three years later at Lebanon.
James X. Corgan, “Notes of Tennessee’s Pioneer Scientists,” Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 53 (1978): 2-7