Race, War, and Remembrance in the Appalachian South

Race, War, and Remembrance in the Appalachian South

Race, War, and Remembrance in the Appalachian South

Race, War, and Remembrance in the Appalachian South

Synopsis

John C. Inscoe is a luminary in the field of Appalachian studies. He has spent much of his career exploring both the social, economic and political significance of slavery and race in the mountain South as well as the complex nature of the region's Civil War loyalties and the brutal guerrilla warfare that stemmed from those divisions. Depicting these realities through intimate vignettes that focus on individuals, families, and communities, he keeps the human dimension at the forefront of his analysis. In this collection of essays produced over the past two decades, Inscoe devotes equal attention to how historical truths have been reshaped by later generations with vastly differing agendas. Blending fact and fiction, reality and perception,Race, War, and Remembrance in the Appalachian Southrepresents a multifaceted embodiment of a unique time and place in American history.

Excerpt

Late in the fall of 1861, James W. Taylor, a Minnesota journalist, published an extraordinary series of articles in the St. Paul Daily Press in which he contemplated the Civil War, then well under way, and the demographic and geographic factors that would affect the course of that conflict and the North’s chances of victory. More specifically, as the title of a pamphlet comprising these pieces indicates, Taylor’s focus was Alleghania: the Strength of the Union and the Weakness of Slavery in the Mountain Districts of the South. His contention was that “within the immense district to which the designation of Alleghania is here applied, the slaves are so few and scattered” and that its residents were imbued with a “complete dedication to Free Labor.” He proposed that with the federal government’s protection and encouragement, southern highlanders—all “ready to strike for Liberty and Union”—could rise up against the Confederacy to which they had been unwillingly bound, and be reinstated into the Union. This “Switzerland of the South…a land of corn and cattle, not cotton,” could then become a military base of operations from which the Union army in conjunction with native highlanders could launch “a powerful diversion of a hostile character against the insurrectionists.”

Taylor was not alone in these assumptions. in March 1862, James R. Gilmore put readers of The Continental Monthly, a newly established journal based in New York and Boston, on alert as to the “possibility of a counter-revolution among the inhabitants of the mountain districts, who hold but few slaves, who have preserved a devoted love for the Union, and who are, if not at positive feud, at least on . . .

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