Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina (review)
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Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina. By Judkin Browning. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011. Pp. xiii, 250. $37.50 cloth)

In Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina, Judkin Browning explores the impact of Union occupation in two southeastern North Carolina counties, Carteret and Craven. In addition to discussing the impact of the occupation on local white residents and African Americans, he explores the experiences of those who came south with the occupation: Federal troops, government officials, and northern missionaries and teachers. The first three chapters present a history of Carteret and Craven Counties from the antebellum period until the beginning of the military occupation. The last four chapters discuss the experiences of African Americans, northern benevolent societies, and Union soldiers, as well as the white residents' rejection of the Union occupation.

Despite strong unionist sentiment in Craven in the 1850s, most of the white residents became supporters of secession soon after Abraham Lincoln's election. The white residents of Carteret remained conditional Unionists a bit longer-until Lincoln called for troops in mid-April 1861. Once war was underway, white residents of both counties quickly became supporters of the Confederacy, but the situation changed again in March 1862. The Union occupation first of New Bern, the county seat of Craven, and then of Beaufort, the county seat of Carteret, complicated loyalties. African Americans embraced the Union; a few whites maintained their southern nationalism, and a small group of whites remained loyal to the Union. The vast majority of white citizens, however, maintained what Browning terms "flexible loyalties."

Throughout the book, Browning skillfully weaves together stories of persons in the Carteret-Craven region to illustrate the shifting loyalties. As long as white residents reaped economic benefits from the occupation, they remained content with Union control. As the Union moved from a policy of conciliation to one that promoted racial equality and the reform of southern society, the white residents grew less happy. By the end of the war, many of the white residents were greater supporters of the ideals of the Confederacy than they had been in the period leading up to the war. Browning concludes [End Page 491] that for white residents of Carteret and Craven Counties race trumped economic interests.

Although the book does not cover all of eastern North Carolina, it does offer significant insight into the Union occupation in southeastern North Carolina. It is thoroughly researched, and the evidence is convincingly presented. Scholars will be pleased to discover that it includes substantial endnotes and a strong bibliography of primary and secondary sources. My main quibble with the book-and I must emphasize that it is a minor quibble given that the book offers a fresh perspective on an underresearched topic-is that sometimes Browning promises a bit more than he presents. For example, while he clearly lays out the complicated relationship between northern teachers and their African American students, highlighting how the African Americans carved out their autonomy and were changed in the process, there is not much about how the benevolent societies or the teachers were changed by their experiences with the students. Similarly, while it is clear that the soldiers' monotonous existence in New Bern and Beaufort tested their convictions, the long-term impact of the occupation on the soldiers is not developed.

All in all, Shifting Loyalties is a strong addition to recent scholarship about the Union occupation during the Civil War. While examining the impact of occupation on both the occupiers and the occupied, it underscores the dynamic nature of cultural, economic, political, and social relations in two eastern North Carolina counties. It also offers much to inspire future research into the Union occupation in other eastern North Carolina counties. [End Page 492]

Patricia C. Click

Patricia C. Click retired early from her faculty position at the University of Virginia to devote more time to historical writing and consulting. She is the author of Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, 1863-1867 (2001) and is currently editing and annotating the collected letters of the teachers who served in the Roanoke Island freedmen's colony...