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James Patton Anderson Papers

Identifier: MS 247

Scope and Content

The J. Patton Anderson Papers are significant for the information they shed on the life of the Anderson family before the Civil War, particularly in the running of Casa Bianca Plantation, in Florida, for coverage of Anderson's service with the Army of Tennessee, and for the correspondence relating to the post-war South. The papers date from 1836-1976, with the bulk dated between 1847 and 1909. The collection contains family papers, letters, and memoirs of J. Patton Anderson's extended family (including in-laws), as well as official battle reports from the battles of Shiloh, Murfreesboro (a.k.a. Stones River), and Chattanooga, written by Anderson himself, and correspondence with former-Confederates after the Civil War. Also included is an autobiographical sketch of Anderson's life, a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about the family, and several photographs. The bulk of the collection is arranged chronologically, each item being stored in its own folder. Undated material, along with correspondence between Etta Adair Anderson and the family of Jefferson Davis, has been placed at the end of the collection. The collection contains one folder of miscellaneous bills, receipts, and business papers, dating from 1847 to 1872.

Items of interest include legal agreements and lists of slaves and equipment pertaining to Casa Bianca; official reports and personal letters concerning major battles with the Army of Tennessee; correspondence with Braxton Bragg about postwar life in and around the Mississippi River Valley; and an exchange of letters between Etta Adair Anderson and Jefferson Davis. Anderson's autobiography, written while recuperating from a wound her received in the Battle of Jonesboro, Ga., (August 31, 1864) appears in several forms in the collection. Additionally, his wife Etta composed a memoir about Anderson that recounts how he saved the life of Ulysses S. Grant during his time in the Washington Territory as U.S. Marshall. The collection also contains copies of the agreement made between Joseph E. Johnston and William T. Sherman at the close of the Civil War; photographs of Patton Anderson, Etta Adair Anderson, Ellen Adair White Beatty, and the plantation of Casa Bianca; a copy of the Ku Klux Klan Constitution and Bylaws, dated 1870; a revised copy of the Constitution of the United Confederate Veterans, dated 1891 and signed by Captain J.J. Dickison; and Anderson's military appointments during the Civil War; and pardons from the post-bellum period.


  • Creation: 1836-1976
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1847-1909



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

James Patton Anderson was born on February 16, 1822, in Winchester, Tennessee, one of seven children of Colonel William Preston Anderson, a veteran of the War of 1812, and Margaret L. Adair, also from a prominent military family. Anderson, who was always known within the family as Patton, spent his early years on the family farm. After his father died in 1831, he moved with his mother to his grandfather's home in Kentucky. Five years later, his stepfather, Dr. Joseph Bybee, sent him to Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. His education was interrupted by financial difficulties and by his stepfather's decision to relocate the family to DeSoto County, Mississippi; however, Anderson eventually resumed his schooling and graduated from Jefferson College in 1840. He read for law at Montrose Law School and passed the Mississippi bar. In 1847, he raised a company of volunteers for the Mexican War, served as a captain, and eventually achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Battalion, Mississippi Rifles. Following this service, he served one term in the Mississippi legislature, then accepted an appointment as United States Marshall to the Territory of Washington in 1853. This was also the year of his marriage to Henrietta (Etta) Buford Adair, his eighteen-year-old cousin. The couple departed for the Northwest and settled in Olympia.

Anderson's political career continued and he served as a Democrat in the Thirty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1855-March 3, 1857) after which he was offered but declined an appointment as governor of Washington Territory. Instead, in 1857, he and Etta moved to Florida, where they agreed to take over the management of Casa Bianca plantation near Monticello. This plantation was the property of Etta's aunt, Ellen Adair White Beatty, well known in Florida as the widow of Florida's congressional delegate Joseph M. White. In a complicated legal agreement, Anderson bought Casa Bianca plantation but also agreed to pay a yearly stipend to "Aunt Ellen" as part of the purchase price. This placed him under a heavy financial obligation, one that proved hard to meet over the years.

With the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Anderson joined ardent secessionists and gave his full support to the Confederacy. He entered the Confederate Army as colonel of the 1st Regiment Florida (Infantry), received promotion to brigadier general February 10, 1862 and to major general February 17, 1864. His war-time command started out in Pensacola, took him through all the major campaigns of Tennessee and Georgia, and placed him for a while in charge of the home front in Florida. He was wounded at the Battle of Jonesboro, Ga., in August 1864 and retired from the field to recuperate. Even after the restoration of the Union, Anderson remained unreconciled to the new order in the South, refusing to countersign his presidential amnesty. His finances were ruined and he took his family to Memphis, Tenn., where he earned his living by editing a publication on agriculture, working in insurance, and serving as a collector of delinquent taxes for Shelby County. He died of complications from war-time wounds on September 20, 1872, and was interred in Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis. Anderson was survived by his widow, Etta, and their children William Preston (b. 1856), Theophilus Beatty (b. 1858), James Patton, Jr. (1860), Elizabeth Cromwell (1863), and Margaret Bybee (1866). The Anderson family returned to Florida in 1883 and settled in Palatka, where Etta became the president of the local J. Patton Anderson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She died in 1917. Margaret (Maggie) Anderson, the last of the Anderson children, served as the family historian and keeper of the family papers until she passed away on May 7, 1965, at the age of 99.

Source: Biographical Directory of Congress 1774-Present. Also: Larry Rayburn, "'Wherever the Fight is Thickest': General James Patton Anderson of Florida," Florida Historical Quarterly 60(3) (Jan. 1982): 313-336; James W. Raab, J. Patton Anderson, Confederate General, A Biography, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, 2004. Margaret Anderson Uhler, The Floridians, Lincoln: Writers Club Press, 2003.


1 Linear feet (2 boxes, 5 volumes and 6 items)

Language of Materials



J. Patton Anderson's personal papers, including Civil War battle reports and military and personal correspondence. Also, correspondence to his wife, Etta Adair Anderson, after his death in 1872.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

The J. Patton Anderson Papers were donated by Margaret Anderson Uhler. J. Patton Anderson's field binoculars and campaign chair, along with a photograph of him in his Mexican War uniform, were donated to the collection by Cromwell Anderson.

Alternative Format Available

The James Patton Anderson Papers have been digitized and are available as part of the University of Florida Digital Collections: Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related Material

Other copies of Anderson's autobiography exist, including a copy at Special Collections at Florida State University. The Putnam County Public Library has placed several of the letters exchanged between Patton and Etta online as part of its digital collections. For related resources on Anderson, see: John Hoffman, The Confederate Collapse at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, Dayton: Morningside, 1985. James W. Raab, J. Patton Anderson, Confederate General, Jefferson: McFarland and Company, Inc., 2004. Larry Rayburn, "'Wherever the Fight is Thickest': General James Patton Anderson of Florida," Florida Historical Quarterly 60(3) (Jan. 1982): 313-336. Margaret Anderson Uhler, The Floridians, Lincoln: Writers Club Press, 2003. Margaret Anderson Uhler, "Major General James Patton Anderson: an Autobiography," Florida Historical Quarterly 65 (3) (Jan. 1987): 335-356. Margaret Anderson Uhler, ed., "Civil War Letters of Major General James Patton Anderson," Florida Historical Quarterly 56(2) (Oct. 1977): 150-175. Margaret Anderson Uhler, "'Florida White': Southern Belle," Florida Historical Quarterly 55(3) (Jan. 1977): 299-309.

A Guide to the James Patton Anderson Papers
Finding aid created by Chris Baker
August 2008
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America