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Shifting Loyalties

The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina

Judkin Browning

Publication Year: 2011

Large parts of eastern North Carolina were occupied by the Union almost from the beginning of the war. As thousands of northern soldiers, government officials, teachers, and missionaries arrived in eastern North Carolina in the spring of 1862, local residents were forced to consider the realities of living under military occupation, and in many cases they had to negotiate new social, cultural, and political arrangements with their military occupiers. This study of the complications of wartime occupation in coastal North Carolina (specifically in Carteret and Craven counties) during the Civil War explores how civilians of the region reconsidered their ties when confronted with living under Union control. Unlike citizens of most other parts of the South, residents of eastern North Carolina were not firmly tied to the Confederacy, and for a variety of reasons they had shifted their allegiances between North and South in the years leading up to the war. As Browning finds in this study, this makes for an interesting look at the way military soldiers and local residents, whites and freedpeople, men and women, all actively participated in the evolving society of their communities, seeking out changes that best-suited their interests in wartime and looking to the postwar era.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-11

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pp. xi-xiii

So many people read all or parts of this manuscript at different times and offered valuable comments and criticisms that I fear I cannot thank them all enough. John Inscoe read every chapter minutely and always gave sound advice and extraordinary encouragement; he is both a mentor and a good friend. James C. Cobb, Kathleen...

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pp. 1-8

As soon as the Civil War ended in the spring of 1865, northern journalist Sidney Andrews embarked on a tour of the recently defeated southern states. As he made his way through the coastal towns of Beaufort and New Bern, North Carolina, that summer Andrews was struck by the Janus-faced loyalty of local whites, many...

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CHAPTER 1 Antebellum Antecedents

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pp. 9-26

In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian explorer in the service of the French king, became the first European to view the southern tip of the Outer Banks. He painted a romantic picture of the tall sweeping grasses and majestic evergreens of Bogue Banks, the twenty-five-mile-long sandy island that teemed with dozens of species...

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CHAPTER 2 The First Year of War

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pp. 27-54

Sitting in his home in Raleigh on the evening of February 13, 1861, Governor John W. Ellis closed his day by writing in his diary about the pervasive fear that had preoccupied his thoughts since South Carolina seceded from the Union nearly two months earlier. “Coercion is all the talk. Whether that will be the policy of the incoming...

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CHAPTER 3 The Beginning of Military Occupation

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pp. 55-80

When advance scouts brought the word on March 13, 1862, that Union soldiers had disembarked from ships on the Neuse River about ten miles south of New Bern, excitement and dread gripped the town. The residents had been anticipating this moment for several months. In January, newspaper editors complained that rumors...

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CHAPTER 4 The African American Experience under Occupation

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pp. 81-104

Wednesday, January 14, 1863, found Beaufort still drying out from a recent storm and getting colder by the hour. The weather had not been the only turbulent event that week. Captain William B. Fowle Jr., Beaufort’s provost marshal, sat down that morning to write a letter to his department commander relating an event that...

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CHAPTER 5 The Experience of Northern Benevolent Societies during Occupation

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pp. 105-122

When northerners arrived in coastal North Carolina during the Civil War, they discovered that the African Americans there, as elsewhere in the South, shared an overwhelming desire to acquire literacy. Susan A. Hosmer, one of the first New England teachers to appear in New Bern, wrote in September 1863 that, for local blacks...

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CHAPTER 6 The Effects of Occupation on Union Soldiers

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pp. 123-148

On the oppressively hot afternoon of July 11, 1862, Captain William Augustus Walker of the 27th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, an avowed abolitionist, sat inside a house in downtown New Bern and witnessed a “great buck nigger, very black and very fragrant,” with “bare feet, tattered shirt and knotted hair,” fanning the...

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CHAPTER 7 White Rejection of Union Occupation

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pp. 149-176

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...

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pp. 177-182

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...


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pp. 183-218


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pp. 219-238


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pp. 239-250

E-ISBN-13: 9781469603377
E-ISBN-10: 1469603373
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807834688
Print-ISBN-10: 0807834688

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 703226414
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Shifting Loyalties

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Beaufort Region (N.C.) -- History, Military -- 19th century.
  • New Bern Region (N.C.) -- History, Military -- 19th century.
  • Beaufort Region (N.C.) -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • New Bern Region (N.C.) -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • North Carolina -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects.
  • Military occupation -- Social aspects -- North Carolina -- Atlantic Coast -- History -- 19th century.
  • Civil-military relations -- North Carolina -- Atlantic Coast -- History -- 19th century.
  • Atlantic Coast (N.C.) -- History, Military -- 19th century.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Occupied territories.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects
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