Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina

By Judkin Browning | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

The power of any in-depth study of a community during the Civil War is that it allows for specific lessons to be drawn, grounded in extensive primary research, which can shed light on larger issues of the conflict, such as the fluid nature of loyalty and nationalism and the transformative nature of military occupation. This study of the Carteret-Craven region gives us a greater understanding of how participants in military occupation constructed personal and national identities, and offers a more nuanced way of looking at the war. It demonstrates that loyalties and allegiances are complicated issues that can be influenced by many historical, social, and circumstantial factors. This study also reveals that military occupations are not always resented by the people who are occupied, at least not initially. Whites in Carteret and Craven counties often welcomed the Union troops and the economic advantages they brought with them. Many in the two counties had been lukewarm about secession, and though many had ultimately supported the war, they had a weak attachment to the southern cause and were more concerned with protecting their own property, families, and livelihoods. When Union soldiers first arrived in the spring of 1862, opening the markets back up to commerce and making promises not to disrupt the social status quo, local whites gladly received them.

President Abraham Lincoln and many other Federal authorities had believed the majority of local white citizens would be loyal to the national government. They thought that a show of force and benevolence by the Union army would bring thousands back to the Union fold. Thus, the initial Union policy throughout the South was one of conciliation. Early results seemed positive; indeed, the people of Carteret and Craven counties appeared to be the grateful Unionists Lincoln had envisioned. Residents, seeking to take advantage of new economic opportunities while simultaneously maintaining the social status quo, wedded themselves to the Union. Yet, just a few months after the honeymoon, many apparent Unionists were rejecting their

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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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