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Samuel Bell Palmer Collection

Identifier: MSC 0981a

Scope and Contents

Journals and drawings by Samuel Bell Palmer during and about his time as a Confederate soldier, later Union prisoner at Camp Douglas, in the Civil War.


  • 1862 - 1864

Conditions Governing Use

Material is available for research. Prior arrangement MUST be made by contacting the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection at Copyright held by donor family. No photographs, copies, or scans of material to be made, even for personal research, without permission from head of McClung.

Biographical / Historical

Samuel Bell Palmer (1843-1872) was a native of Knoxville, Tennessee. His father, William Palmer, an immigrant from Ireland, started life in Knoxville as a tailor and ended as a merchant. Palmer was named for his uncle, Samuel Bell, a noted silversmith, who twice served as mayor of Knoxville. Samuel B. Palmer and his brother John enlisted in the Confederate forces, becoming part of Capt. W. C. Kain’s (also sometimes called Mabry’s) Light Artillery in Knoxville on May 4, 1862. Sam Palmer kept small journals throughout his military service and drew small pencil sketches of scenes that he witnessed. When the Union Army occupied Knoxville in September 1863, Samuel and John Palmer were captured and sent to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois. During his confinement, Sam Palmer continued to draw sketches from memory of scenes that he had witnessed, as well as of prison camp life. The most dramatic of his drawings records the divided loyalties of his hometown. It shows a day when large crowds gathered to observe the simultaneous recruitment of Union and Confederate troops on Knoxville’s Gay Street in 1861. The Palmer brothers were released on March 13, 1865 and soon were able to rejoin their family members, who had “refugeed” to Columbus, Georgia, to avoid taking the Oath of Allegiance. Sam Palmer and his family remained in Columbus, where he married Fannie M. Webster on April 13, 1868. Samuel Palmer died before reaching the age of 30, on February 11, 1872, and is buried in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus. Various family members preserved his letters and journals, which constitute a valuable and very personal view of the war in East Tennessee. (written by Steve Cotham)


1 box

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Copies

Scans made of journals and sent to donors.

Related Materials

--MSC 0981b Samuel Bell Palmer Collection

--MSC 0973 Correspondence between Steve Cotham and Scott Van Ness re: Samuel Bell Palmer

--QMM.2011.001 Map of East Tennessee drawn by Samuel B. Palmer (1863)

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Repository Details

Part of the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection Repository

601 S Gay Street
3rd floor
Knoxville Tennessee 37902 United States