Sunday, October 14, 2018

Just Finished Reading - Lincoln's Loyalists

Although Southern Unionism is a relatively new niche interest for me, I'm finding that some scholars have been exploring the topic for quite a while. Published in 1992, Lincoln's Loyalists: Union Soldiers from the Confederacy by Richard Nelson Current is one of those early studies.

Most Civil War students are aware that Tennessee (particularly East Tennessee) produced thousands of soldiers for the Union army. Similarly, Western Virginia (eventually to become West Virginia) was also a stronghold of Unionism. Examination of each of these two states serve as Current's first two chapters. 

Current's third chapter looks at Unionism in North Carolina (mainly in the western Mountains and in coastal areas under early Union occupation), and in Arkansas. The book's fourth chapter explores the units raised in other seceded states. Current finds that every Confederate state, except South Carolina, raised at least a battalion of white troops that served in the Union army. In total an estimated 100,000 white men from seceded states served in the Union army. That figure was an enormous double negative for the Confederacy. Not only were they taking away manpower from the South, they were adding strength to the Union army. 

Current's other four chapters focus on those men who initially fought for the Confederacy but ended up fighting for the Union. Often referred to as "galvanized Yankees," most often these men were sent to areas where they were not expected to fight against their former comrades. "What Manner of Men," the sixth chapter, is a look at traits of Southern Unionism, and the seventh chapter examines the fighting effectiveness of Southern Unionist regiments. The final chapter, "Unknown Soldiers," shows possibly why Southern Unionists contributions have been previously overlooked, and also makes a strong case for telling the important place they should have in future Civil War scholarship. 

I highly recommend this book to those seeking to gain a stronger understanding on this particular subject.

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