Alvan Cullem Gillem

Alvan Cullem Gillem was born in Gainesboro in Middle Tennessee on July 29, 1830. After an early log-cabin schoolhouse education he was sent to Nashville and in 1847 entered the Military Academy, from which he was graduated, ranking eleventh in the class of 1851. Five of the graduates of this class who attained general officer's rank were Southerners: Gillem and Kenner Garrard of the Union and Benjamin H. Helm, Junius Daniel, and Laurence S. Baker of the Confederacy. In the decade before the Civil War, Gillem discharged routine duties: against the Florida Seminoles, in various garrisons, and on the frontier of Texas. At the battle of Mill Springs (Fishing Creek) in 1862 he acted as General George H. Thomas' quartermaster and during the campaign of Shiloh his duties were extended to those of chief quartermaster of D. C. Buell's Army of the Ohio, as well as commander of its siege artillery. In May, 1862, he became colonel of the 10th Tennessee (Union) Infantry and served as provost marshal of Nashville for some time. At the instance of Andrew Johnson, then military governor of the state, Gillem was appointed adjutant general of Tennessee in June, 1863, and brigadier general of volunteers to rank from August 17. From then until the end of the war he was alternately occupied in the field and with the domestic problems arising from the reorganization of the state government under Union rule. A year later he took the field against the East Tennessee Confederates, a campaign with mixed results in which his forces killed the celebrated John H. Morgan. In January, 1865, Gillem was vice-president of the Tennessee convention and in April became a member of the legislature. Meantime, he served under George Stoneman in Western North Carolina, commanding a cavalry division. Brevetted major general, U. S. Army, for services on many fields, Gillem became colonel of the 28th Infantry in 1866. In January, 1868, he was appointed to command the Fourth Military District (Mississippi and Arkansas), under the Reconstruction plan. His policy of conciliation and moderation gained disfavor after Johnson's term came to an end, and Gillem was transferred to frontier duty in Texas. His last active service was against the Modocs who assassinated General Edward R. S. Canby in northern California. He arose from a sickbed to drive Captain Jack and his followers (the assassins) from their stronghold in the Lava Beds. On his return to Benecia Barracks, California, his condition worsened and he went on sick leave in January, 1875. On December 2 of that year, at his home at Soldier's Rest near Nashville, he died. He was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.