"But I don't like it when I hear a man say -- be he colored or white -- that we've never had anything, and we've always been so low. We've been without things, and we've been at the bottom! I agree. But we've been God-fearing. We've had God; and He's something to have -- Someone. And I'll tell you; we've had each other to turn to."
A rural South Carolina black migrant to a northern city in Robert Coles, The South Goes North
Historians generally treat the Civil War as a major divide in the smooth flow of American history. They study the war as a unique phenomenon, but few scholars have rigorously traced the changes that occurred in southern society because of it.1
Before the Civil War, the Edgefield "Minutemen," formed in various Edgefield neighborhoods in fearful anticipation of Lincoln's election, pledged themselves to the defense of Edgefield and "honor, independence, and personal equality." One of these local groups, the Saluda Minutemen, was organized originally on 24 November 1860 with twenty-five members. By their fourth meeting, they had accumulated seventy-four men ready to die for Edgefield. When D. Denny, the group's captain, proposed that the company "offer their services" to the state of South Carolina, he fully expected the entire company to volunteer. Surprisingly, though, only thirty-three members answered that call. Thus, while all were presumably ready to defend Edgefield, less than half were willing to offer their allegiance at that time to the state. The story of how Edgefield changed and gave more allegiance to the Confederacy is an interesting story that must be told elsewhere. The results of the Civil War, however, had an enormous effect on the families of black and white.2
The Civil War in Edgefield was not just a rich man's war and a poor man's fight. The sons of the white wealthy, middle class, and poor fought and died. For most Edgefieldians the Civil War was a local affair. From the first call to support a war for southern independence to news of surrender at Appomattox, Edgefieldians interpreted the meaning of the conflict and reacted to its de-