|Jefferson County in the Civil War|
Jefferson County in the Civil War
Extracted from Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research in Jefferson County, Tennessee, copyright ©1995 Billie R. McNamara. All rights reserved. This page will be supplemented periodically as new information is located. Additions and corrections are welcome via the Contact Us link on this Web site.
East Tennessee has always been socially, economically, and politically different from its sister regions, Middle and West Tennessee. During the Civil War, East Tennessee was predominantly pro-Union. In June, 1861, a Union convention was held in Greeneville, Tennessee. The delegates petitioned Tennessee's legislature to form a new state out of East Tennessee and those Middle Tennessee counties that did not favor secession. When the petition was denied, East Tennesseans by the score began joining the Union Army. Along the East Tennessee rivers, large landowners usually owned slaves; the fact that most of these men were Confederate sympathizers gives support to the fact that slavery was responsible for the War. [Robert White, Tennessee: Its Growth and Progress (Nashville, TN: By the Author, 1944), p. 596.]
Jefferson County was especially affected by this division of loyalties.
The "Genealogical and Historical Reference Materials" section of Billie McNamara's Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research in Jefferson County, Tennessee contains a list of resource materials on the Civil War in Tennessee. Jefferson County resident Cleve Smith is the acclaimed authority on the Civil War in the county, and his published works are absolutely "must-have" volumes (see below).
No one has, as yet, compiled a listing of Jefferson County Civil War soldiers.
The main building of Strawberry Plains College was used as a hospital after the college was destroyed in 1865. Several Union and Confederate soldiers were buried in the Strawberry Plains Cemetery (behind Rush Strong School); only one grave is marked, and no records are available. The Confederate soldiers were moved to the Confederate Cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Thankfully, none of Jefferson County's public records were destroyed during the War. They reflect the county residents' divided loyalties and the changing control of the government.
Like most Southern communities, Jefferson County suffered financially and spiritually during the War. However, a number of antebellum houses and buildings survive today because of Jefferson Countians' pro-Union sympathies.
Because several published volumes of information on the Civil War period of Jefferson County's history are available, this document will not present details of the war and its effect. Among the primary sources for information are the following:
Some recommended research links (see also general Civil War information links in the Links section of this Web site:
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