Civil War Wiki
Eleazer A. Paine
Personal Information
Born: September 10, 1815(1815-09-10)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: December 16, 1882 (aged 67)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: U.S. Regular Army,
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brigadier General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Commands: 4th Division, Army of the Mississippi
District of West Kentucky
Battles: Mexican-American War
American Civil War
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Eleazer Arthur Paine (September 10, 1815 – December 16, 1882) was an American soldier, author, lawyer, and a controversial 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.

Early life and career[]

Paine was born in Geauga County, Ohio. He was a first cousin to fellow future Civil War general Halbert E. Paine. Paine received an appointment to the United States Military Academy and graduated in the Class of 1839. He served in the Mexican War. In 1843, he wrote and published a training manual entitled Military Instructions; Designed for the Militia and Volunteers.

After resigning from the army, he studied law, passed the bar exam, and established his practice in Monmouth, Illinois. He married Charlotte Phelps and raised a family. One of Paine's close friends was fellow Illinois attorney Abraham Lincoln.[1]

Civil War and postbellum activities[]

Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Paine was elected as the 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 guerilla fighters caught within his territory to be executed.[2]

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, with his headquarters in Gallatin, Tennessee. His reputation for repressing and stealing from the civilians grew, and Gallatin civilians referred to him as "our King" and "Tempest". Executions were commonplace, typically without benefit of a trial or legal counsel.[3]

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.[4] 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 found him guilty on several counts, and punished him by reprimand at Paducah. He resigned from the army in April 1865 and resumed his law practice.

Paine died in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul, Minnesota.[5]

In some accounts, his first name is spelled as "Eleazar."

See also[]

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32x28px American Civil War portal


  • Cowley, Robert, What Ifs? Of American History: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been. Berkley Books, 2004. ISBN 0425198189.
  • New Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1983.
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1964, ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 volumes in 4 series. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.


  1. Cowley, p. 124.
  2. New Encyclopaedia Britannica, p. 463.
  3. Williamson Diary
  4. Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32, Part 3.
  5. Eleazer A. Paine at Find a Grave Retrieved on 2008-12-27

External links[]

Further reading[]

  • Durham, Walter T., Rebellion Revisited, a History of Sumner County, Tennessee From 1861 to 1870, Gallatin, Tennessee: Sumner County Museum Association, 1982.
  • Paine, Eleazar A., Military Instructions; Designed for the Militia and Volunteers... Office of the Northern Ohio Freedman, 1843.