Monday, February 25, 2008

Brigadier General Joseph B. Palmer

Brigadier-General Joseph B. Palmer, at the beginning of the war, was a prominent lawyer of Murfreesboro, Tenn. He opposed secession, and insisted that the South should make her fight in the Union. But like the vast majority of Southern Union men, he believed that his first allegiance was due to his State. So when Tennessee resolved upon secession, he obeyed her voice and raised a company for the defense of the South. Of this company he was elected captain, and when it, with nine other companies, was formed into the Eighteenth Tennessee regiment of infantry, Captain Palmer was unanimously elected colonel. This regiment was assigned to the army commanded by Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston. It formed a part of the army at Fort Donelson, sharing in the glories and disasters of that fierce conflict. When the fort was surrendered, February 16, 1862, Colonel Palmer and his men found themselves prisoners of war. He was kept in prison at Fort Warren until his exchange in August, 1862, then joined his regiment, which had also been just exchanged at Vicksburg. Shortly afterward the regiment was reorganized at Jackson, Miss., and re-elected Palmer as its colonel. In Breckinridge's brilliant, though unsuccessful charge at Murfreesboro on the 2d day of January, 1863, Palmer's regiment suffered heavily, and Palmer was himself badly wounded in three places. These wounds incapacitated him for service for about four months, but he returned to his regiment in time for the battle of Chickamauga, where, while leading his command in one of the headlong charges of that hotly-contested field, he received another dangerous wound in the shoulder, which bled so profusely as to threaten death before help could come. It was not until the army reached Atlanta that he was in condition to resume his duties. Here he was appointed to the command of his brigade, and commissioned brigadier-general November 15, 1864. His brigade, formerly commanded by John C. Brown, comprised the Third, Eighteenth, Thirty-second, and Forty-fifth Tennessee regiments. In the campaign of Hood into Tennessee, this brigade was detached from the army at Nashville and send to co- operate with Bate and Forrest in a movement against Murfreesboro. On the retreat of the army, Palmer's brigade formed part of the force under Walthall and Forrest which brought up the rear, and did its duty so bravely as to win the applause of even the enemy. During the North Carolina campaign of 1865, all the decimated infantry regiments of Tennessee then serving under Johnston were consolidated into four regiments and placed in a brigade commanded by General Palmer. Mr. G. N. Baskette, of Nashville, Tenn. (Confederate Veteran, November 1897), relates a remarkable exploit of Palmer's brigade at the battle of Bentonville, the last one fought by the gallant army of Tennessee. On this occasion, "part of Palmer's brigade charged through the enemy's line and kept on to the rear of the Federal army, capturing a number of prisoners, and by a detour, after a long and painful march of about a week, rejoined the brigade." The same writer, summing up the character of General Palmer, says:
[H]e was ever courteous to his subordinate officers and men in the line, and while maintaining proper discipline had always a warm sympathy for the boys in the trenches or on the march. On the battlefield he was cool and collected, bearing himself always as a leader who felt the weight of his responsibility, and yet was ever ready to brave any danger which promised to benefit the cause of which he was devoted.
At the close of the war, General Palmer proved himself as good a citizen as he had been a soldier. He died on the 4th of November, 1890, mourned by his many friends and countrymen.
Source: Evans, Clement, ed. Confederate Military History, Vol. XII, Confederate Publishing Company, Atlanta, GA, 1899

Funeral Notice Born Nov. 1, 1825. Died Nov. 4, 1890. The friends and acquaintances of Gen’l J. B. Palmer are invited to attend his funeral at the M. E. Church, South, at 10 o’clock A. M. tomorrow. Service by Revs. J. B. West and J. E. Harrison. Burial at Evergreen Cemetery, conducted by Knights Templar. Murfreesboro, Tenn, Nov. 5, 1890

Tribute of Respect
At a meeting of Dibrell Bivouac, No. 12, called to take action on the death of Gen. Joseph B. Palmer, the committee on resolutions reported the following, which were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, it has pleased Almighty God to suddenly take from our midst Gen. Joseph B. Palmer, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, it is with deep sorrow that we, his old comrades in arms, meet to pay our last sincere respects to his memory, and his great worth as a soldier, citizen and patriot.
Whereas, we personally bear testimony to his superb gallantry and bravery on the field of battle, his efficiency as an officer in the late Confederate army, both as a colonel of the 18th Tennessee Infantry and afterwards as Brigadier General, and have personally witnessed his magnificent bearing on many hard-fought battle fields, and have witnessed his uniform kindness to his soldiers in camp, his tried and true fidelity to the “Lost Cause” he so warmly espoused and to his great worth as a citizen since the close of the war; that he has both in war and peace, ever exhibited that lofty patriotism, both in moral and physical, so-characteristic of every Southern man, and especially of every true Tennessean. That he was faithful to his friends and magnanimous to his enemies, manly and dignified on all occasions; one in whose heart there was no guile, an eminent lawyer, true and faithful to his clients, and
Whereas, we bear testimony to the fact that his immediate family and friends have sustained irreparable loss, that his county and the whole state have lost a useful, good man.,
Therefore, be it resolved by Dibrell Bivouac, that we greatly lament his untimely and unexpected death; that we sincerely and deeply sympathize with his family in their great and irreparable loss and bereavement, and tender to them our heartfelt condolence.
Resolved further, that the members of Dibrell Bivouac be requested to wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty days.
Resolved further, that the papers of Marshall county be requested to publish these resolutions and that those of Murfreesboro be furnished with the same for publication, and that a copy of these resolutions be furnished Horace E. Palmer, the son of the deceased.
W. W. Walker,
C. C. McKinney,
C. T. Swanson,
J. B. Neil,
J. H. Lewis

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