Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina

By Judkin Browning | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
White Rejection of Union Occupation

On the morning after the capture of Beaufort in late March 1862, Major George H. Allen of the 4th Rhode Island Regiment recorded: “A few Union people were found here, who, to the great disgust of the rebel element, freely mingled with our boys, shaking them by the hand.” Several residents, however, were hesitant to embrace the Federal forces at first. When Allen tried to use a five-dollar U.S. Treasury note to purchase some items from a store, the proprietor snapped “We don’t take such stuff here,” implying that only Confederate currency was acceptable. Yet after April 26, when Fort Macon had been subdued and the port reopened for trade, bringing northern merchandise and the prospect of profitable commerce to the town, Allen noticed a change in the local population’s attitude. “They at last acknowledged that we had wrought a very great and acceptable change in their affairs,” he wrote. With the apparent likelihood of financial gain, previously aloof residents “were now quite sociable.” After the war Allen, whose regiment departed for Virginia on June 30, 1862, fondly remembered: “We can never forget our life in Beaufort, or the pleasant relations sustained with its inhabitants.”1

Not every relation was as pleasant as Allen recalled. In postwar memoirs soldiers could portray their tours affectionately, but in contemporary letters home, they mentioned some recalcitrant individuals and growing hostility to the occupation. By 1863, northern troops had completely changed their tune in regard to the locals. After nearly a year of occupation, one soldier complained: “I doubt very much the union feeling in North Carolina.” Another declared in March, “There is plenty of professed union men who will shote [sic] you out of the window if they get a chance.” Even Treasury agent John Hedrick, who believed he encountered much Unionism in 1862, asserted in August 1863: “The great loyalty, which is said to exist in some parts

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Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1- Antebellum Antecedents 9
  • Chapter 2- The First Year of War 27
  • Chapter 3- The Beginning of Military Occupation 55
  • Chapter 4- The African American Experience under Occupation 81
  • Chapter 5- The Experience of Northern Benevolent Societies during Occupation 105
  • Chapter 6- The Effects of Occupation on Union Soldiers 123
  • Chapter 7- White Rejection of Union Occupation 149
  • Conclusion 177
  • Notes 183
  • Bibliography 219
  • Index 239
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