LINCOLN'S LOYALISTS by Richard Nelson Current


Union Soldiers from the Confederacy
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 A meticulously researched treatment of a topic seldom examined by historians: the white Southerners, contemptuously called ``Tories'' by their Confederate brethren, who served in the Federal armies during the Civil War. As Current (Those Terrible Carpetbaggers, 1987, etc.) points out, the overwhelming majority of the more than 100,000 white Southerners in the US forces came from staunchly Unionist areas of eastern Tennessee and western Virginia (including the new state of West Virginia), but every Confederate state except South Carolina contributed regiments to the US Army. Large areas of predominately Union sentiment existed in North Carolina, Alabama, and Texas, and US armies conducted successful conscription programs in occupied areas in Louisiana and Arkansas. Current emphasizes that many of these men took up arms for the Union at considerable personal risk- -they and their families faced opprobrium and ostracism in their communities, and, if captured, often harsher treatment than other Federal prisoners (if, as was often the case, they joined the US Army after deserting the Confederate forces, they were executed if recaptured). Noting the mixed war record of the pro-Union Southerners--some, like the First Alabama Calvary, the First Tennessee Calvary, and the Seventh Virginia Infantry, served with distinction, while others performed more unevenly--Current argues persuasively that, whatever their record, Southern loyalists represented a loss to the Confederacy even more grievous than the black regiments organized by the Union, ``since the whites composed a part of the Confederacy's military potential and the blacks did not: the war was over before the Jefferson Davis government got around to employing blacks as soldiers.'' A deeper study of the sociology of pro-Union sentiment in the South would have enhanced the text; but, still, an excellent and significant contribution to Civil War literature.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1992
ISBN: 1-55553-124-5
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1992