- The Civil War in Appalachia: Collected Essays, and: War at Every Door: Partisan Politics and Guerrilla Violence in East Tennessee, 1860-1869 (review)
- Civil War History
- The Kent State University Press
- Volume 44, Number 4, December 1998
- pp. 289-291
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS The Civil War inAppalachia: Collected Essays. Edited by Kenneth W. Noe and Shannon H. Wilson. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997. Pp. xl, 284. $40.00.) War at Every Door: Partisan Politics and Guerrilla Violence in East Tennessee, 1860-1869. By Noel C. Fisher. (Chapel Hill: University ofNorth Carolina Press, 1997. Pp. 239. $29.95.) One of the intriguing aspects of Civil War history is how new issues regularly surface. Two books, one a series of essays edited by Kenneth W. Noe and Shannon H. Wilson, and the other an assessment of guerrilla warfare in East Tennessee by Noel C. Fisher, explore the heretofore largely neglected impact of the Civil War on the Southern Highlands, or Appalachia. These books complement one another, and both serve as worthy guides for those working in this promising new scholarly field. Anyone interested in the topic should first pay careful attention to the cogent, insightful introduction by Noe and Wilson in The Civil War in Appalachia: Collected Essays. The authors use a model by John C. Campbell to define Appalachia , a vast region encompassing the mountain counties of nine Southern states. They place scholarship on Appalachia in historical perspective, noting the pervasive influence oftwo postwar stereotypes.The first ofthese, the "Myth of Unionist Appalachia," hinges on an image of mountaineers steadfastly remaining loyal to the Union during the war. The second, the "Myth of Savage Appalachia," conjures up unsavory images of hillbilly blood feuds. The archetypal conflict in this context, the Hatfields and McCoys, ostensibly involved wartime animosity spilling over into the postbellum era. Revisionist historians began breaking down and dispelling the twin Appalachian myths in the 1970s, but not until the following decade did scholars begin tackling the Civil War and Reconstruction in earnest. The eleven essays in Noe's and Wilson's volume cover a wide geographical and topical range. Aside from theAppalachian connection, there is no definable thematic link. Various authors contributed pieces dealing with local military units, economics, fugitive accounts, why some groups supported secession and others did not, and the impact of the war on particular areas. Wilson, a Berea College archivist, investigated how that institution and Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee sought to manipulate the Appalachian image for their own 290CIVIL WAR HISTORY purposes in the decades after the war. The essays demonstrate that scholarship on Appalachia follows prevailing historical trends. It is written in the new social history vein, focused less on traditional elites than within a broader cultural context . Forthe most part the writers concentrate on specific locales and personalities. Noe's essay describes how Union soldiers sent to southern West Virginia in 1 861 and 1862 quickly came to denigrate the residents they encountered. Convinced that the mountaineers were ignorant bushwhackers, the white equivalent of Native Americans, Union officers and soldiers resorted to mass destruction, killing, and starvation to help quell their depredations. Colonel George Crook of the 36th Ohio, for instance, proudly boasted in his postwar memoirs of having bumed out an entire county. The "Myth of Savage Appalachia," it seems, had wartime antecedents. Jonathan D. Sarris captured the tensions in one Appalachian community in a powerful essay recounting the execution ofthree Unionists in Lumpkin County, Georgia, in 1 864. As Sarris demonstrates, pro-Confederate elements in the county, led by militia leader James Jefferson Findley, felt compelled to execute the trio because they were residents of adjoining Fannin County, a raw frontier region and hotbed for disloyalty. Determined to maintain cohesion at any price, Findley and others resorted to the death penalty as a harsh deterrent for opponents ofthe Confederacy. This bitter struggle for control of the war effort at a local level was not confined to North Georgia; it manifested itself elsewhere throughout Appalachia. As Noe and Wilson acknowledge, there is much uncharted territory to cover. Entire regions ofAppalachia are unrepresented in the collection ofessays. Scholars have shed relatively little light on the wartime roles of mountain women, African Americans (whether free or slave), and Native Americans. More local community studies are needed, as are comparative assessments. Examination of these and other topics would serve to broaden the relatively small, if productive , coterie of scholars at work on Appalachian topics...