Eleazer A. Paine

Eleazer A. Paine
Born (1815-09-10)September 10, 1815
Geauga County, Ohio
Died December 16, 1882(1882-12-16) (aged 67)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Place of burial Oakland Cemetery, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army,
Union Army
Years of service 18391840, 18611865
Rank Brigadier General
Commands held 4th Division, Army of the Mississippi
District of West Kentucky

Seminole Wars
American Civil War

Other work Lawyer

Eleazer Arthur Paine (September 10, 1815 December 16, 1882) was an American soldier, author, and lawyer from Ohio who provoked controversy as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was formally reprimanded for brutality toward civilians and violating their civil rights while commanding troops in western Kentucky. He was replaced in April 1864 from his post, based in Gallatin, Tennessee, where he had directed the occupation's protection of railroads and policing civilians.

Early life and career

Paine was born in Geauga County, Ohio. He was a first cousin to Halbert E. Paine, also born in that county and a fellow future Civil War general.

After being educated in local schools, Paine received an appointment to the United States Military Academy and graduated in the Class of 1839. He served in the Seminole Wars before resigning his commission in 1840.[1] In 1843, he wrote and published a training manual entitled Military Instructions; Designed for the Militia and Volunteers.

Law career

After resigning from the Army, he returned to Ohio. There he read the law with an established firm. He passed the bar exam in 1843, and established his practice in Painesville, Ohio.

In 1848 he moved further west to Monmouth, Illinois. There he married Charlotte Phelps and raised a family. One of Paine's close friends was fellow Illinois attorney Abraham Lincoln.[2]

Civil War

Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Paine was elected colonel of the 9th Illinois Infantry. In September of that year, he was appointed as a brigadier general of volunteers. He commanded a brigade at Paducah, Kentucky, a critical supply depot for the Federal army. There, Paine developed a reputation for harshness and cruelty toward the civilian populace. He ordered all guerrilla fighters caught within his territory to be executed.[3]

Paine commanded the 4th Division of the Army of the Mississippi at the Battle of New Madrid and Island Number Ten in Missouri leading the 1st Division. He also served in the Siege of Corinth under William S. Rosecrans.

He subsequently headed the District of West Kentucky, where his men were deployed guarding railroads from Confederate raiders from November 1862 until April 1864. His headquarters were in Gallatin, Tennessee in the middle part of the state, and a center of regional railroads. Tennessee was occupied by Union troops from 1862 on. His son Phelps Paine was a captain in the Union Army and assigned to Gallatin.[4]

Paine's reputation grew for repressing and stealing from the civilians. In addition to executing suspected spies in the Gallatin town square, he was known for what was called "chasing the fox with fresh horses"--having his men chase down and kill prisoners who were set free on old horses.[5] Gallatin civilians referred to him as "our King" and "Tempest".[5] Executions were commonplace, typically without benefit of a trial or legal counsel.[5]

On April 29, 1864, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman reassigned Paine and a regiment of his infantry to a post in Tullahoma, Tennessee, to guard bridges crossing the Duck and Elk rivers.[6] He later commanded the military District of Illinois, but resigned in November 1864 and was replaced by John Cook.

A Congressional inquiry into Paine's actions in Kentucky and Tennessee found him guilty on several counts. He was punished by reprimand at Paducah, Kentucky. He resigned from the Army in April 1865.

Postwar years

Paine returned to his family in Illinois and resumed his law practice.

Paine died in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

In some accounts, his first name is spelled as "Eleazar." It is also recorded as "Eleazor." Spelling was variable in the 19th century.

See also


  1. Warner, p. 356
  2. Cowley, p. 124.
  3. New Encyclopædia Britannica, p. 463.
  4. Durham (1982), Rebellion Revisited
  5. 1 2 3 Alice Williamson Diary, Scriptorium - Library, Duke University, accessed 5 December 2009
  6. Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32, Part 3.


Further reading

External links

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