Joel Allen Dewey

Joel Allen Dewey was born in Georgia, Vermont, September 20, 1840. In 1859 he enrolled in Ober-lin College, at which time his home address was Austinburgh, Ohio. He left college in the autumn of 1861 to become a second lieutenant of the 58th Ohio, with which he served until promoted to captain of the 43rd Ohio the following January. With the 43rd Ohio, Dewey was under fire at New Madrid, Missouri, under John Pope, and at the battles of Iuka and Corinth. Until the opening of W. T. Sherman's campaign against Atlanta, his regiment performed garrison duty in West Tennessee. At this juncture, Dewey was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 111th Colored Infantry, becoming its colonel on April 29, 1865. Until the end of the war, his regiment was employed mainly in guarding the line of the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad. In February, 1865, Dewey commanded the 111th Infantry, in a brigade of five Negro regiments commanded by another colonel. Hence, it is difficult to account for his promotion to full brigadier general except as a reward to a volunteer officer who could be induced to command Negroes—not a desirable assignment at that time and one disdained by regular officers. On November 20, 1865, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers, the last such appointment made during the Civil War. Dewey refused an appointment in the Regular Army following the close of the war; instead, he studied law in Albany, New York. Graduating in 1867, he was admitted to the Tennessee bar the same year and established himself at Dandridge, Tennessee. He married the daughter of a pioneer Jefferson County family in 1871. Under the administration of "Parson" Brownlow, Dewey was elected attorney general of the second judicial district of Tennessee in 1869 and reelected the following year to an eight-year term. He died suddenly in the Knoxville Courthouse of heart disease on June 17, 1873, and was buried in Dandridge.

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