Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

I must begin by thanking Joseph Meaher for his enduring interest in Alabama history in general and my work in particular. Joe encouraged me to seek the support of Mobile’s A. S. Mitchell Foundation for this project, and the trustees happily agreed. Jay Lamar of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission was also an early advocate, and her enthusiasm throughout has meant a great deal. I am very proud that These Rugged Days is part of the state’s official bicentennial observances....

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Prologue: Chasing Wilson’s Raiders with Aunt Octavia

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pp. xv-xxvi

Virtually every southern boy of my generation has vivid memories of the Civil War Centennial. Reenactments, pageants, billboards, advertisements, full-page newspaper articles, and even restaurant menus celebrating the momentous anniversary were everywhere. Caught up in the excitement, my buddies and I refought the war throughout the woods and subdivisions of our little piece of the South. With high hearts, we nailed a Confederate battle flag to a wooden slat and hollered our juvenile Rebel yells as we overran the hated Yankees’ positions. The enemy was imaginary, of course, since none of us wanted to be a Yankee, even in play....

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Introduction: Alabama, 1860

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pp. 27-41

Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States on November 6, 1860. After decades of sectional wrangling over the issue of chattel slavery, most Southerners considered this the last straw. Only weeks later, on December 20, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. The momentous news clacked into the Montgomery telegraph office that afternoon, and by evening citizens had transformed the streets of Alabama’s capital city into a huge, impromptu carnival of celebration and support. The Montgomery Weekly Advertiser enthusiastically reported bonfires, flags, marching citizen-soldiers...

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1. Secession

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pp. 42-64

Governor Moore learned of the Crusader’s arrival by telegraph the afternoon of January 2, 1861. His immediate thought was that she had been sent to reinforce Fort Morgan. Constructed during the early nineteenth century by the US Army, Fort Morgan was a pentagonal brick structure armed with heavy cannons pointed at the ship channel immediately opposite. It was by far the most formidable of the three Federal installations in the Mobile area, for whoever controlled it controlled the bay. Also under Federal authority were Fort...

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2. War in the Valley

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pp. 65-85

They were ungainly looking things. Cut-down riverboats with soaring paired stacks amidships, boxy pilothouses, big side-wheels flanking the stern, massive smoothbore cannons hugging the decks, and five inches of unpainted solid oak plank wrapped around everything, earning them the sobriquet “timberclads.” The troops more derisively referred to them as “bandboxes.” Both names were apt. While not liable to be of much use against artillery, the oak siding was more than enough to stop the small-arms fire they would likely...

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3. Mobile under Blockade

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pp. 86-107

Early on the morning of June 5, 1861, a “very dark, sallow man with black hair and eyes, whiskers down each cheek but shaved clean off his chin” eased out of a Liverpool hotel and cautiously wended his way toward the waterfront. He suspected that his every move was monitored by Union spies, and he was right. One was nearby, in fact, and provided the above less-than-flattering description. Their intense interest in this slightly seedy-looking fellow was more than justified. His name was James D. Bulloch, just arrived as the...

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4. Streight’s Raid, 1863

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pp. 108-125

He came home by ferry, train, steamboat, and wagon. But this was no joyful arrival of a living, breathing hero. It was, rather, the mournful return of his mortal remains, encased in a cast iron coffin with a glass face plate. John Pelham, so young, handsome, and brave, had been hit by an exploding artillery shell during a clash at Kelly’s Ford, Virginia, on March 17, 1863. Theretofore, his remarkable valor and tactical genius had inspired thousands of beleaguered Southrons, who eagerly followed his exploits on distant...

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5. Rousseau’s Raid, 1864

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pp. 126-155

Winter 1864. Cold gripped the land and the Union vise was set, ready to tighten. Frigid northers barreled over the sere fields and leafless woods, plunging temperatures from the already ice-choked Ohio River to the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In northern Virginia, the respective armies hunkered down in cozy log huts divided by the Rapidan River on the north and the Blue Ridge to the east. In the western theater, the Father of Waters flowed “unvexed to the sea,” and Union forces held everything north of the Memphis...

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6. The Battle of Mobile Bay

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pp. 156-178

Big guns. If Mobile was to be adequately defended, it had to have them, afloat and ashore. And Selma provided. By the spring of 1864, the Dallas County seat had become a booming war production and distribution center. On April 5, a Connecticut native who had lived there for five years and recently escaped North shared his assessment with the New York Times. “The importance of Selma to the Confederacy can hardly be overestimated,” he declared. “As a shipping point for iron, coal, ammunition and commissariat stores it is one...

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7. Wilson’s Raid, 1865

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pp. 179-201

Bad news kept coming for Confederate Alabamians through the fall and into the winter. In distant Virginia, Lee’s hard-pressed and steadily shrinking army was desperately fighting from entrenched positions at Petersburg, only 24 miles outside Richmond. Closer to home, Hood had marched his diminished force into middle Tennessee in an attempt to cut Sherman’s supply line and draw him away from Atlanta. After a brief pursuit, the Ohioan reversed course and launched his devastating March to the Sea instead, leaving subordinates to...

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8. The Mobile Campaign

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pp. 202-224

Protected by her earthworks, artillery, channel pilings, torpedoes, water batteries, and skeleton navy, Confederate Mobile awaited the hammer blow. Grumpy doomsayers, or “croakers” as they were called, ominously predicted defeat and desolation. Lieutenant Mumford, buffeted by high winter winds, soaked by rain, and sprayed by breaking waves at Battery Gladden, conceded in his diary, “The prospects of the Confederacy look gloomy.” Official voices were more sanguine. In early March, General Maury reassured the...

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9. Montgomery Falls

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pp. 225-241

On Sunday April 2, 1865, twenty-five-year-old Ellen Blue of Montgomery made her way to church. She had been ill for days and was happy to get out of the house, “a blessed privilege.” Upon entering the sanctuary, she found many of the pews empty. “There is so much anxiety felt about the proximity of the raiders that many people did not go to Church,” she wrote in her diary. The following day Blue and her neighbors learned of Selma’s fall, and though some hoped the Yankee force would head south, most feared Montgomery...

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Epilogue: White Columns and the Gun That Won the Civil War

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pp. 242-246

It stands regal and serene just off County Road 23 in Wilcox County’s Possum Bend community. White Columns, or more formally the Tait-Starr-Woodson House, is the kind of plantation home outsiders picture when they think of the Old South—grand, two stories, a stunning architectural gem fashioned of local materials by sophisticated talent. The house consists of two large wings joined in an L-shaped footprint, one facing south and the other west. Each is capable of standing alone as the principal facade and features soaring,...

Notes

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pp. 247-264

Bibliography

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pp. 265-276

Index

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pp. 277-289