John C. Vaughn


Born in 1824 in either Virginia or Tennessee, Vaughn began his military career in 1847, enlisting to fight in the Mexican War. Afterward, Vaughn spent time hunting for gold in California. By 1854, he had returned to Tennessee, where he served two terms as Monroe County sheriff and a short stint as postmaster at Sweetwater. With the outbreak of war, Vaughn organized a regiment and took it to Virginia, Tennessee not yet having seceded; it mustered into Confederate service as the Third Tennessee Infantry Regiment on June 6, 1861. The Third was captured when Vicksburg fell to Federal forces in 1863; Vaughn and his men were exchanged and sent to the Tennessee-Virginia border. He received command of the Confederate force in East Tennessee when John Hunt Morgan was killed in 1864. In June 1864, Federal General William T. Sherman ordered Vaughn’s family deported to Indiana to remain under “military surveillance” for the duration of the war for “corresponding with the enemy.” Despite the fact that the orders came from Sherman, Vaughn believed Deputy Provost Marshal Joseph Divine to be responsible for the removal of his family from Tennessee, calling Divine his “personal enemy for many years.” Six months later, a force of rebel guerillas tracked down Divine, who was in hiding in a cellar in Madisonville, Tennessee. After promising Divine he would be treated as a prisoner of war, Divine was tied by the neck between two horses and forced to run approximately 20 miles to the vicinity of Etowah. Divine attempted an escape from his captors later that evening, only to be recaptured by five men. The men beat Divine to death and dumped his body in a nearby farm field. Whether Vaughn was responsible for coordinating or ordering this attack is unknown. Vaughn is remembered mostly for being the last Confederate general, maintaining his command even after the surrender of Robert E. Lee and Joe Johnston. Vaughn surrendered and disbanded his men in Georgia on May 10, 1865, after separating from Confederate president Jefferson Davis' entourage. Davis, traveling separately, was captured that same day.

  • Mexican War veteran and Monroe County sheriff
  • Commanded the Confederate force in East Tennessee after death of John Hunt Morgan
  • Last Confederate General