Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Southern Mind under Union Rule: The Diary of James Rumley, Beaufort, North Carolina, 1862-1865

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Southern Mind under Union Rule: The Diary of James Rumley, Beaufort, North Carolina, 1862-1865

Article excerpt

The Southern Mind Under Union Rule: The Diary of James Rumley, Beaufort, North Carolina, 1862-1865. Edited by Judkin Browning. New Perspectives on the History of the South. (Gainesville and other cities: University Press of Florida, c. 2009. Pp. [xvi], 199. $34.95, ISBN 978-0-8130-3407-2.)

Diaries and personal letters from the Civil War are common, but the journal of James Rumley, an ardent Confederate living under Union occupation, is different. Rumley was a solidly middle-class white southerner who served as a court clerk in Beaufort, North Carolina, a small but important seaport village that fell to Union troops early in 1862 and remained occupied for the remainder of the war. In this skillfully edited volume, Judkin Browning gives us valuable insight into the thoughts of one man who lived under and opposed, albeit passively, military rule.

Military occupation is a topic of current interest, and Rumley's diary is a small but important historical window into the thoughts of someone living under an occupying force. Rumley recorded his views about Union rule, secession, slave ownership, and emancipation and revealed the tensions inherent in the occupying and reconstructing experience. His observations are filled with bitter rage and disgust. He viewed northerners as morally inferior, deceived by fanatic abolitionists who ruined the old Union, and regularly railed against Yankee rule and their "nigger government" that proscribed Confederates who refused to take the "despotic" Oath of Allegiance (p. 63).

If Rumley represented the "southern mind under Union rule," then we see a mind almost entirely preoccupied with maintaining white supremacy. He was galled by the rapid undermining of the racial order and was especially appalled "by the tramp of negro armies" that have "cursed" the "land of [George] Washington" (p. …

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