Sister States, Enemy States: The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee

By Kent T. Dollar; Larry H. Whiteaker et al. | Go to book overview

“We can never live in a
southern confederacy”
The Civil War in East Tennessee

John D. Fowler

“We can never live in a southern confederacy and be made hewers of wood and drawers of water for a set of aristocrats and overbearing tyrants,” asserted William G. “Parson” Brownlow, the publisher of the Knoxville Whig, as the debate over secession echoed through the hollows, coves, and mountains of East Tennessee. The itinerant Methodist minister and newspaper editor’s words reached a receptive audience. While Middle and West Tennessee embraced secession following Lincoln’s call for troops to quell the rebellion in the Deep South, the majority of East Tennesseans refused to abandon their allegiance to the old Union. This precipitated an internecine struggle within the unfolding national conflict. East Tennessee’s stance involved more than just state sectionalism; it also involved a rejection of the Confederate South and its values. Historians have long studied the story of how and why these “loyal mountaineers” resisted the Confederacy but have until recently ignored their secessionist neighbors. Fortunately, modern scholars are now examining all aspects of the Civil War in Appalachia.1

What follows is an analysis of East Tennessee’s struggle. Why was East Tennessee so different from the rest of the South? Why did some East Tennesseans support the Confederacy while most did not? How did the war and Reconstruction affect the people of this region—Rebels, loyalists, and slaves? The answers to these questions reveal a personal war waged not only by the Federal and Confederate armies but also by secessionist

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