Gay Street, Knoxville, Tenn. 1861
- Creator:Samuel Bell Palmer (1843-1872)
- Title:Gay Street, Knoxville, Tenn. 1861
- Date:ca. 1863
- Description:This drawing depicts a crowd gathered on Gay Street in Knoxville, Tennessee for the purposes of recruiting Union and Confederate soldiers.
- Historical Note:The personal art of soldiers reveals not only their skills at carving or drawing but also what they felt most important to communicate. This drawing, which Samuel Bell Palmer completed in 1863 while imprisoned at Camp Douglas, near Chicago, gives a vivid sense of how evenly split loyalties were in the city of Knoxville right after the secession vote, June 8, 1861, when a majority of Tennesseans voted to join the Confederacy. A Confederate training camp was set up across from Old Gray cemetery and 400 soldiers were housed in Knoxville. Although young men in rural sections of East Tennessee were more likely to be Union loyalists, Palmer and others like him in the cities joined many sons of wealthy and prominent families, such as the McClung and Ramsey families in Knoxville, in signing up for the Confederacy. Many Confederate soldiers set down images of their war experiences, sent home illustrated letters, and kept journals. So also did Union troops, many of whom had never before ventured south.Palmer writes," On the first day of March 1862 I joined the 'Mabry Artillery,' and was mustered into the service of the Confederate States at Knoxville, Tenn. We were kept there some time learning the a.b.c. of a soldier's education in an old ten-pin-alley which served us for a barrack. My brother John enlisted at the same time. One Sunday the order came for us to travel. I was unwell but so anxious to commence my soldiering that I overcame my illness, and went with the rest. I had a fine notion about the 'romance' of a soldier's life,etc. I have got bravely over it since."
- Institution:Private Collection, on loan to the Museum of East Tennessee History
- Publisher:Digital Initiatives, James E. Walker Library, Middle Tennessee State University
- Rights:Images reproduced on this website are intended for individual, educational use only. For research inquiries about specific objects or requests for high resolution images, contact the East Tennessee Historical Society.