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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Diary of a Young Southern Girl During the War

I found this diary online and was fascinated by her views. I will give a little background on Alice and who she is talking about. She is constantly mentioning a Yankee officer who was less than stellar. Then I will whet your appetite with her first entry. I will continue with entries as the days go by.

Alice Williamson Diary - 1864
An On-line Archival Collection
Special Collections Library, Duke University

"We know very little about Alice except what we can learn of her attitudes and circumstances through her own words. A visit to the 1860 US Census for Sumner County, Tennessee gives us some basic facts about Alice and her family. Through the census record we can see that Alice would have been 16 years old at the time she wrote her diary. R.[Robert] Williamson is listed as the head of household and his place of birth is listed as Virginia. His occupation is listed as a farmer with the family's real property valued at $3,000 and personal property valued at $2,000."

"The census lists R.R. Williamson, aged 19 and Joseph Williamson, age 15, presumably her brothers Rush and Jo mentioned on pages 23, 34, and 35 in her diary. Other household members listed on the 1860 census include mother Elizabeth Williamson, age 45, born in Tenn.; Thomas Williamson, age 16, also listed as being a farmer; Harris and Thomas Ocburn (sp?), ages 12 and 13; Jane, age 5; a 91 year old male Williamson (first name illegible); Eskill and George Williamson, ages 9 and 7."

Gallatin is the county seat of Sumner County, TN. Sumner County was once the hunting ground for the Chickasaw, Creek, and Cherokee. The first settler, Thomas Sharp Spencer, spent the winter of 1776-77 in a hollow sycamore tree. Spencer returned in 1779 to clear land, build a cabin, and plant the first patch of corn in Middle Tennessee. The first permanent settlement in the county was made in 1780 at Bledsoe Lick, now known as Castalian Springs. This was the first of many forts or stations erected for protection from the Indians whose attacks lasted until 1795. In November of 1786, Sumner County was created by an act of the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina. The county was named for a Revolutionary War Soldier, Colonial Jethro Sumner. Gallatin was established in 1802 as the permanent county seat. The name was chosen to honor Albert Gallatin, Secretary of Treasury to Presidents Jefferson and Madison. One year later, when the town was surveyed and platted, Andrew Jackson was one of the first to purchase a lot. In 1803, the first courthouse and jail were built. In 1815, the town was first incorporated and now functions under a Charter established by a 1953 Private Act of the State Legislature. The first means of public transportation was the Mail Stage. One traveled from Nashville to Louisville, stopping three times weekly. Another operated on a semi-weekly schedule between Gallatin and Carthage. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad was completed through the county in 1859. Another form of transportation available at this time was the steamboat, which landed at Elliott Branch. At the first approach of the Civil War, the citizens of Gallatin and Sumner County were generally opposed to secession from the Union but, when the time came to choose sides, they were almost unanimous in their support of the Confederacy. With the first outbreak of hostilities in April of 1861, soldiers from Sumner County began joining ranks. The Union Army first captured the town in February 1862. In July of that year, General John H. Morgan recaptured Gallatin and held it until the Confederate forces fell back to Chattanooga. After the war, Gallatin was left with occupational forces. Upon their departure, the area returned to being a small southern community with a solid and steady growth. The area was primarily agricultural until mid-century; but, by 1970, industrialization resulted in only 50% of the county population being considered rural. Agriculture remains a major factor in the local economy, the leading crops being corn, tobacco, grains, and fruits, with livestock and dairy products contributing materially to farm income.

"This small, leather-bound volume is the 36-page diary kept by schoolgirl Alice Williamson at Gallatin, Tennessee from February to September 1864. The main topic of the diary is the occupation of Gallatin and the surrounding region by Union forces under General Eleazer A. Paine. The diary relates many atrocities attributed to Paine. Frequently mentioned is presence of black contrabands in and around Gallatin, attempts to give them formal schooling, and their abuse by Union Eastern Tennessee troops."

"Alice Williamson is bitterly resentful of the Union occupation. The diarist mirrors the abandonment felt by many Confederate sympathizers in Gallatin."

"Alice Williamson talks a lot about Eleazar Arthur Paine.
(from Durham, Walter T. Rebellion Revisited, a History of Sumner County, Tennessee From 1861 to 1870. Sumner County Museum Association. Gallatin, Tennessee. 1982)"

"Throughout her diary Alice Williamson refers to him as E. A. Payne, Payne, Gen. P., Old Payne, Our king, Tempest, his lordship, old hurricane, Thunder Storm, and Old Marster, but his real name was Eleazar Arthur Paine. He was born on September 10, 1815, in Geauga City, Oh. He died on December 16, 1882 in Jersey City, NJ. He graduated from West Point 1839 and went on to be a lawyer and militia officer. After the war he practiced law. He was a cousin of Gen. H E Paine, who later became a congressman, and a bureaucrat. His Civil War service includes:
July 1861 Col. of 9th Illinois, September 1861 appointed Brig. Gen. of Volunteers Commanded a brigade at Paducah
Commanded 4th Division/Army of the Mississippi at New Madrid
Island No 10, Ft. Pillow, Memphis
Commanded 1st Division/Army of the Mississippi and District of West Kentucky
Guarded railroads
Resigned from military duty April 1865.

District of Nashville (Rousseau)
Gallatin (Paine)
Officers: 8
Men: 130
Agg. present: 157
Agg. present and absent: 159
pieces of heavy field artillery: 6

"Gallatin was repressed by the brutal General Eleazor A. Paine, commander of the Union railroad guard from November 1862, to April, 1864. The occupying army in Gallatin had two assignments; protect the rail and water lines, and police the civilian population. In 1862, they built a fort at Gallatin, called Fort Thomas, that overlooked the town. The provost marshall stationed at the fort wa s given the responsibility of policing Gallatin."

"During 1863 General Paine tightened military control over the Gallatin area. He did this by giving patriotic speeches to his troops, and getting support from the local newspapers. His men criss-crossed Summer County, looking for rebels and bushwhacker s. For example, in January, he took a large force eastward towards Kentucky, using cavalry to round up rebels."

"His tyranny was always present. He was known all around Gallatin for executing suspected rebel spies without a trial. His sadistic executions like chasing down prisoners who were set free on old horses is described in Williamson’s diary as "chasing the fox with fresh horses". He also had a fondness for villagers’ furniture, confiscating it for his own use. "

"He was removed from the post April 29, 1864 by the orders of Major General William T. Sherman, who transferred him to Tullahoma to guard bridges across the Duck and Elk rivers. ...He was quickly back to his old ways, and soon he was under investigation. A congressional inquiry into his actions in Kentucky found him guilty on some counts, and punished him by reprimand at Paducah."

"Eleazer A. Paine's son was mentioned by Alice as "Capt. Paine (Son of Tempest)", and was stationed at Gallatin for a time. His full name was Captain Phelps Paine.
(from Durham, Walter T. Rebellion Revisited, a History of Sumner County, Tennessee From 1861 to 1870 Sumner County Museum Association. Gallatin, Tennessee. 1982.) "

Now, an excerpt from her diary:
Feb. 19th 1864 What a negligent creature I am I should have been keeping a journal all this time to show to my rebel brothers. I have been studying all the morning and talking all the evening seeking & sighing for rebels. Our king (old Payne) has just passed. I suppose he has killed every rebel in twenty miles of Gallatin and burned every town. Poor fellow! you had better be praying old Sinner! His Lordship left Tuesday. Wednesday three wagons loaded with furniture came over. I do not pretend to say that he sent them. No! I indeed, I would not. I would not slander our king. Any old citizen can see by going to his (Paynes) palace that his furniture was not taken from Archie Miller's house & other places near by. He always goes for rebels but-invariably brings furniture. I suppose his task is to furnish the contraband camp, i.e. the camp of his angels (colored).

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