Joseph M. Divine
During 1864, Confederate guerilla raids threatened Federal control in East Tennessee. Federals appointed a provost marshal and deputies and formed a regiment to contain Confederate action. Divine served as a deputy provost marshal and organized the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment, carrying out strict Federal policies in dealing with Confederate sympathizers. Those who denied allegiance to the Union or gave aid or information to Confederate troops or bushwhackers faced arrest or deportation. Orders came in June 1864 for the deportation of the family of Confederate Gen. John C. Vaughn, setting the stage for vengeful retaliation. Though evidence implicating Divine as the cause of the family’s deportation either doesn’t exist or is yet undiscovered, Vaughn placed blame squarely on Divine, referring to him as “my personal Enemy for many years.” Confederate forces in East Tennessee harassed Divine and burned his house. Allegations that Divine used his power to influence court decisions and intimidate citizens made him an unlikeable character for Confederates in East Tennessee. This tension continued after Divine and his men mustered out and Federal occupational forces withdrew from Monroe County. A Confederate guerilla force operated well into 1865, exacting revenge. After the murder of a fellow deputy provost in January 1865, Divine hid in the cellar of Dr. Joseph Upton’s house in Madisonville. A detachment of 20 to 30 guerillas arrived looking for Divine, found his hiding place, and demanded his surrender. Divine killed a man sent to bring him out, and the detachment threatened to burn the house. Upton pleaded with Divine to surrender, promising that Divine would be treated as a prisoner of war, and Divine surrendered. Despite the promise of fair treatment, Divine was forced to run between two horses with ropes around his neck from Madisonville to Good Springs, approximately 20 miles, struck by bayonets and pistols all along the way. As his captors camped, Divine escaped. Five men captured him, beat him to death, and dumped his body in a field. The murder of Joseph Divine is a seminal example of the unmitigated violence and vengeful retaliation in East Tennessee during the war.
- Deputy provost marshal and organized the Third Tennessee Mounted Infantry Regiment
- Hated for carrying out strict Federal policies in dealing with Confederate sympathizers
- Captured and killed by guerilla fighters