Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Last Plantation - Part Four

The Confederate submarine, Hunley, was discovered in its watery grave in the Charleston, South Carolina, area in 1995, and was put on display a few years later, where we viewed it. Inspired by the Hunley, we've seen the obelisk commemorating the men who died on the Hunley sailors in a Mobile, Alabama, cemetery and have visited their graves Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.

We've also visited the town of Gallatin in Sumner County, Tennessee, the primary setting for the novel, "The Last Plantation." We just didn't know that H. L. Hunley, who invented the sub named for him, was born in Sumner County. The book mentioned Hunley as follows:

p. 413 [General] Paine arrested you (Lettie), didn’t he? …He questioned me about a boat that sinks under water…a thing he called a submarine. He said a Mr. Hunley , who used to live near here, and my father were building one. Paine’s crazy, Cotton, crazy as a bedbug. ..the general’s son, Captain Phelps Paine, brought me home in the general’s closed carriage.

General Paine [referenced in the quote above] had a long, sordid history with the people of Sumner Co., Tennessee; some of which was captured in a diary by Alice Williamson. The least of his transgressions might include scheming to confiscate the nicer homes in the area for his personal gain.
p. 308 On March 25, 1863, several slaveholders banded together to confront Paine. The general declared that the insistent owners were themselves guilty of a rebellious movement to undermine the Government of the United States of America. He ordered their arrest, and himself sitting in judgment, convicted them without a trial, then marched them to the Gallatin courthouse square and hanged them. On April 23, 1863, three bushwackers retaliated the hanging: Thomas Norvill, a staunch Union sympathizer suspected of being an informant, was abducted and murdered.

p. 324 July 26th News of General John Hunt Morgan’s capture reached General Paine on the same day Paine’s wife arrived in Gallatin. Immediately the general put the wheels in motion to host a party in honor of both events. ... ‘inviting’ them (Sumner Co. residents) to the Fairview Plantation Mansion.. for a ‘Grand Gala.’ His officers’ wives spent the next week decorating the mansion, and the Fairview slaves were kept busy butchering cattle, sheep hogs….On August second, when the orchestra played its grand march welcoming the guests to Fairview, it was to a nearly empty house. The Southerners had not been intimidated by Paine’s command performance and, in fact, had not even bothered to decline his invitation.

p. 409 In Nashville, Tennessee, on the twentieth day of January, 1864, Ulysses S. Grant, spurred by a letter he had received from an old acquaintance, was investigating a high-ranking Federal officer. He was infuriated by his discoveries; the West Point graduate, Brigadier General Eleazer A. Paine, was entirely unfit to command a post. Grant was reminded that... he (Paine) is a close associate of Governor [Andrew] Johnson.

Gallatin was originally just a link in the Union Army's communications line to Nashville. That status was challenged by Confederate leader John Hunt Morgan. Gallatin became a "hot potato" between the Northern and Southern armies.

p. 215 Sparks from Morgan’s train-car bonfire [near Gallatin], however, had ignited a powder keg of repercussions that would keep the Confederate cavalry in the field for months to come. In Nashville, General Buell was furious. He immediately dispatched two companies of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry to Gallatin, and on the first of April, the 5th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry, consisting of 789 men, joined them. Then Ulysses S. Grant, taking the raid as a personal insult, placed the entire State of Tennessee under martial law. President Lincoln appointed Tennessee’s own son, Andrew Johnson, military governor of the state.

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