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The Yellowhammer War

The Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama

Kenneth W. Noe, Jason J. Battles, Harriet E. Amos Doss, Bertis English, Michael W. Fitzgerald, Jennifer Lynn Gross

Publication Year: 2014

Published to mark the Civil War sesquicentennial, The Yellowhammer War collects new essays on Alabama’s role in, and experience of, the bloody national conflict and its aftermath.

During the first winter of the war, Confederate soldiers derided the men of an Alabama Confederate unit for their yellow-trimmed uniforms that allegedly resembled the plumage of the yellow-shafted flicker or “yellowhammer” (now the Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus, and the state bird of Alabama). The soldiers’ nickname, “Yellowhammers,” came from this epithet. After the war, Alabama veterans proudly wore yellowhammer feathers in their hats or lapels when attending reunions. Celebrations throughout the state have often expanded on that pageantry and glorified the figures, events, and battles of the Civil War with sometimes dubious attention to historical fact and little awareness of those who supported, resisted, or tolerated the war off the battlefield.

Many books about Alabama’s role in the Civil War have focused serious attention on the military and political history of the war. The Yellowhammer War likewise examines the military and political history of Alabama’s Civil War contributions, but it also covers areas of study usually neglected by centennial scholars, such as race, women, the home front, and Reconstruction. From Patricia A. Hoskins’s look at Jews in Alabama during the Civil War and Jennifer Ann Newman Treviño’s examination of white women’s attitudes during secession to Harriet E. Amos Doss’s study of the reaction of Alabamians to Lincoln’s Assassination and Jason J. Battles’s essay on the Freedman’s Bureau, readers are treated to a broader canvas of topics on the Civil War and the state.

Jason J. Battles / Lonnie A. Burnett / Harriet E. Amos Doss / Bertis English / Michael W. Fitzgerald / Jennifer Lynn Gross / Patricia A. Hoskins / Kenneth W. Noe / Victoria E. Ott  / Terry L. Seip / Ben H. Severance / Kristopher A. Teters / Jennifer Ann Newman Treviño / Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins / Brian Steel Wills

Published in Cooperation with the Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Kenneth W. Noe

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pp. 1-14

Born in Tennessee in 1833, the Rev. Dr. David Campbell Kelley lived a life full of adventure. After college he took a medical degree and then sailed for China as a Methodist missionary. By the time the Civil War began, however, Kelley was back in America, residing in Huntsville, Alabama. An ardent secessionist, he embraced the Confederate war effort, forming a company of cavalry known variously as the...

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1. Precipitating a Revolution: Alabama’s Democracy in the Election of 1860

Lonnie A. Burnett

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pp. 15-33

William Lowndes Yancey had a clear view of the future. In 1858, the longtime Alabamian wrote a letter to a young supporter revealing his personal agenda. Yancey expressed a desire to “fire the Southern heart, instruct the Southern mind, give courage to each other, and at the moment, by one organized, concerted action . . .

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2. “The Aggressions of the North Can Be Borne No Longer”: White Alabamian Women during the Secession Crisis and Outbreak of War

Jennifer Ann Newman Treviño

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pp. 34-54

On December 31, 1860, Elizabeth Rhodes of Eufaula penned the following in her diary: “There are dark clouds overspreading our National Horizon and we cannot yet know whether the fringes of prosperity will dispel them and the bright rays of peace and happiness once more [beam] upon us, [or] whether they will grow...

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3. Confederate Alabama’s Finest Hour: The Battle of Salem Church, May 3, 1863

Ben H. Severance

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pp. 55-70

From about 11:00 in the morning until well into the afternoon on May 3, 1863, Alabamians in Wilcox’s Brigade waged a frantic rearguard action, alone, against Union forces ten times their size. Edmund Patterson’s memory of the event was that of a race against time. A twenty-three- year- old lieutenant in the 9th Alabama Infantry, Patterson had been on the move for hours: “We had been running...

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4. The Confederate Sun Sets on Selma: Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Defense of Alabamain 1865

Brian Steel Wills

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pp. 71-89

The year 1864 had proven to be a trying and difficult one for the Confederate States of America. Powerfully constructed twin operations in Virginia and Georgia had seen Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia driven into increasingly lengthy defenses around Petersburg and nearby Richmond, while Confederate defenders in Georgia had been unable to prevent the penetration of that state, costing...

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5. Fighting for the Cause? An Examination of the Motivations of Alabama’s Confederate Soldiers from a Class Perspective

Kristopher A. Teters

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pp. 90-106

On March 1, 1864, Confederate prisoner of war John Washington Inzer wrote in his diary: “Now fear we will be held as prisoners a long time. Well, we must bear it. Anything for our country. We must never think for one moment of giving up the contest. All we have to do is be true to our cause. We never can be subjugated.” Just...

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6. Voices from the Margins: Non-Elites in Confederate Alabama

Victoria E. Ott

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pp. 107-124

In 1865, John W. Brown returned from service in the Confederate army to discover his wife missing. Having conceived a child with another man, Ellen J. (Vandasdel) Brown had moved out of their residency in Pike County, Missouri, abandoning her marriage to John. The former Confederate soldier subsequently moved to Perry...

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7. Augusta Jane Evans: Alabama’s Confederate Macaria - Jennifer Lynn Gross

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pp. 125-148

Augusta Jane Evans (Wilson) was one of the nineteenth-century South’s most popular female authors. Born in Columbus, Georgia, on May 8, 1835, Evans spent some of her childhood in San Antonio, Texas, where her father moved the family after he went bankrupt in the early 1840s.1 By 1849, when many Americans were moving...

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8. “The Best Southern Patriots”: Jews in Alabama during the Civil War

Patricia A. Hoskins

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pp. 149-164

On April 26, 1861, two weeks after the firing on Fort Sumter, twenty-six- year- old Solomon Kahn of Montgomery, Alabama, enlisted in the 3rd Alabama Infantry. During the first week of May, the 3rd Alabama became the first Alabama regiment to report to Richmond, Virginia, in defense of the newly formed Confederate...

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9. Every Man Should Consider His Own Conscience: Black and White Alabamians’ Reactions to the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Harriet E. Amos Doss

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pp. 165-176

After four grueling years of civil war, by April 1865 Alabamians longed for peace. Union troops captured and occupied places from Huntsville in the north to Blakely in the south. As Confederate general Robert E. Lee was surrendering his army in Virginia, Mayor R. H. Slough of Mobile was surrendering his city to Union...

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10. Alabama’s Reconstruction after 150 Years

Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins

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pp. 177-190

Alabamians, like other Americans, love to celebrate anniversaries, especially those related to the history of our nation. In 1986 it was the centennial of the Statue of Liberty; in 1976 it was the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence; and in 1961 it was the most elaborate one of all: a four-year- long celebration of the...

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11. Of Ambition and Enterprise: The Making of Carpetbagger George E. Spencer

Terry L. Seip

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pp. 191-219

In his final speech to the U.S. Senate in March 1871, the defensive Alabamian carpetbagger Willard Warner argued that men like him were “like men everywhere; there are some good and some bad among them.” That Warner counted himself and his supporters among the “good” perhaps goes without saying, but he also left...

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12. “He Was Always Preaching the Union”: The Wartime Origins of White Republicanism during Reconstruction

Michael W. Fitzgerald

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pp. 220-239

Historians have long been perplexed by the native white Republicans of the Reconstruction era, or “scalawags,” as the contemporary slur described them. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Dunning school demonized them as apostates. Postwar loyalists were “an unpleasant and violent part of the population,” as Walter Lynwood...

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13. Labor, Law, and the Freedmen’s Bureau in Alabama, 1865–1867

Jason J. Battles

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pp. 240-257

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was established by an act of Congress in March 1865 and was vested with broad powers to assist three million blacks in the transition from slaves to citizens. More commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, this division of the War Department operated in all of...

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14. Freedom’s Church: Sociocultural Construction, Reconstruction,and Post-Reconstruction in Perry County, Alabama’s African American Churches

Bertis English

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pp. 258-280

In “Reconstruction and Its Benefits,” a paper presented at the 1909 meeting of the American Historical Association, noted black scholar W. E. B. Du Bois recalled how necessity often drew enslaved blacks and free whites to the same churches before the Civil War. Following the war, white churchgoers quickly removed blacks, ...

Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 281-288


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pp. 289-290


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pp. 291-310

E-ISBN-13: 9780817387044
E-ISBN-10: 0817387048
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817318086
Print-ISBN-10: 0817318089

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 4 illustrations
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 864900234
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Yellowhammer War

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Subject Headings

  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) -- Alabama.
  • Alabama -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
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