True Blue: White Unionists in the Deep South during the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1880

Butler, Clayton, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Gallagher, Gary

This dissertation seeks to engage with five principal questions. Who were the white Unionists of the Deep South? Why did they take their Unionist stand? How did they do so? How were they perceived by people in the Confederacy and the United States? And what happened to them as a result during and after the war? This dissertation investigates three Union regiments recruited from white residents of the Deep South, men who passed the “severest test” of loyalty by volunteering to enlist in the army. Research on these regiments – the First Alabama, First Louisiana, and Thirteenth Tennessee Union Cavalry – yields illuminating evidence that sheds light on these men’s motivations, expectations, and experiences. Utilizing service records, newspapers, speeches, letters, diaries, and Southern Claims Commission files, among other sources, it argues that during the war Unionists took on a symbolic importance to both sides out of proportion to their actual numbers. To northerners, they represented the tangible nucleus of Union support within the rebelling states on which Reconstruction policies could be built. To Confederates, they represented Tories, traitors to the political ideals of the Confederate South and, most important as the war went on, to the white race. The Unionists’ wartime allegiance and service to the United States then became an important touchstone during the political chaos and realignment of Reconstruction, a period when many of these veterans played an important part.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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