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Samuel Augustus Palmer was born June 26, 1827 in South Carolina. He came to Florida with his parents in 1829. Before the Civil War, Palmer studied to be a jeweler with Benedict Brothers in New York. Returning to Florida in 1856, he married Mary Rebecca Gassaway and resided in Monticello. The Palmers had five children: Thomas Augustus, Henry Edwards, Mary A., Martha G., and William Gassaway Palmer. Palmer enlisted in Company H, Third Florida Infantry Regiment on April 24, 1862. This unit was eventually assigned to the Confederate armies that fought in the western theater of the war. Much of Palmer's military career was spent either on the sick list or serving as a clerk or nurse. By late 1864, Palmer had apparently recovered sufficiently to rejoin his regiment in its invasion of Tennessee. He was captured by Union troops on December 16, 1864 near Nashville and imprisoned for the remainder of the war at Camp Douglas, Illinois.
Palmer returned to Monticello, Florida at the close of the war and was a watchmaker. His sons, William G. and Thomas A. moved to Jacksonville, and Henry E., moved to Tallahassee. Mary Rebecca Gassaway Palmer died on July 15, 1884. Samuel Augustus Palmer died on February 13, 1918.
The Palmer family papers contain scattered correspondence from 1856 to 1915. The collection can be divided into pre-Civil War, Civil War, and post-Civil War documents. The pre-Civil War correspondence includes two letters written by S. A. Palmer to his wife, dated 1856 and 1857. Both were written at Thomasville, Georgia; the first was penned shortly before their marriage and deals primarily with wedding plans. Of interest in the second letter, dated May 19, 1857, is mention of an upcoming ball to be given in honor of the Thomasville Guards, a local militia unit. The Civil War letters all date from 1863. They are written by Samuel Augustus Palmer from camps in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. During most of this time, Palmer was sick or on detached duty away from his regiment. He writes about his own health, his concern for his family and business, his desire to return home, and the military situation in the area.
The post-war correspondence dates primarily from 1883 to 1884. Also, there is a 1915 letter written to Henry E. Palmer and several undated letters believed to be postbellum. The 1883-1884 letters are between Mrs. Palmer in Monticello and her sons, William and Thomas, who were apparently employed in Jacksonville. The letters include general family and home news, including reports on the condition of William's hunting dogs and information on crops.
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Confederate States of America. Army. --Florida Infantry Regiment, 3rd. Confederate States of America. Army. --Thomasville Guards.
Women History 19th century Florida
Jefferson County (Fla.) United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Monticello (Fla.) Thomasville (Ga.)
Palmer, Mary Rebecca Gassaway, 1838-1884
Palmer, Samuel Augustus, 1827-1918
Palmer, Thomas Augustus, 1859-1920
Palmer, William Gassaway, 1861-
Palmer, Henry Edwards, 1871-1944