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Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk Broadside

Identifier: MS-3468

  • Staff Only

Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk wrote this broadside, entitled A Proclamation. To All Soldiers, in This Department Absent from Their Commands Without Leave, from his headquarters in Demopolis, Alabama on April 16, 1864. Polk offers a pardon to all soldiers of this department absent from their commands (including exchanges and paroled prisoners), who shall within ten days after having knowledge of this proclamation, report for duty to their respective commands, or to the Commanding Officer of the post at Meridian, Mississippi. Polk states that a petition, signed by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Mississippi legislature, was presented to him requesting him to consider the plight of a large number of men now absent from their commands … who in a moment of weakness were induced to abandon their duty and desert their colors (but have now) seen reason to regret their want of fidelity and are anxious to return. Polk acknowledges that although past experience has made him reluctant, he will allow these men this last opportunity to return without punishment and make examples of those who do not avail themselves of the opportunity.


  • 1864 April 16

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0.1 Linear Feet


Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk wrote this broadside, entitled A Proclamation. To All Soldiers, in This Department Absent from Their Commands Without Leave, from his headquarters in Demopolis, Alabama on April 16, 1864. In it, he offers to pardon soldiers who have deserted if they return to their commands.

Biographical/Historical Note

Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk (April 10, 1806–June 14, 1864) was born in Raleigh, North Carolina to Sarah (Hawkins) Polk and Colonel William Polk, a Revolutionary War veteran and prosperous planter. Polk attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill briefly before entering the United States Military Academy at West Point. Six months after graduation from West Point, Polk resigned his commission to enter the Virginia Theological Seminary. He became a deacon in April 1830 and a priest the following year. On May 6, 1830, Polk married Frances Ann Deveraux and they had eight children. In 1832, Polk moved his family to the vast Polk Rattle and Snap tract in Maury County, Tennessee and constructed a massive Greek revival home he called Ashwood Hall. In 1838, he became missionary bishop of the South-West, Arkansas, Indian Territory, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, and in 1841 he was consecrated bishop of Louisiana. Polk's work in the Church was largely educational and he played a prominent part in movements for the establishment of higher educational institutions in the South.

Polk joined the Confederate Army soon after the Civil War broke out and quickly rose through the ranks of command due to his close personal friendship with President Jefferson Davis. Polk fought in many battles, including Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro and Chickamauga. Polk's performance in these battles, however, was the subject of considerable criticism. Notwithstanding his lack of experience, the intelligent and somewhat arrogant Polk always seemed to think that he knew best. Unaccustomed to answering to anyone but the Almighty, he had trouble taking orders from the likes of General Braxton Bragg. On June 14, 1864, Polk was scouting enemy positions near Marietta, Georgia, when he was killed by a Union 3-inch (76 mm) shell at Pine Mountain. The artillery fire was initiated when Sherman spotted a cluster of Confederate officers - Polk, Hardee, Johnston, and their staffs - in an exposed area. Although his record as a field commander was poor, Polk was immensely popular with his troops, and his death was deeply mourned in the Army of Tennessee.


This collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

The University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Special Collections purchased this collection on January 24, 2011.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA