Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Civil War: Western North Carolina

In November 1863, North Carolina governor Zebulon B. Vance reported to a correspondent that there was "an astonishing amount of disloyalty" to the Confederacy in the mountain counties of western North Carolina. Problems related to conscription and desertion led Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and other Confederate leaders to reach the same conclusion. Two months later, Vance, a native of western North Carolina, wrote to former North Carolina governor David L. Swain, another western North Carolinian, offering a brief comparison between the patriots of the War for Independence and Southerners during the present conflict. He concluded:

"Liberty and independence can only be gathered of blood and misery sustained and fostered by devoted patriotism and heroic manhood. This requires a deep hold on the popular heart, and our people will not pay this price." After Hood's defeats around Atlanta in the summer of 1864, Vance wrote to Swain again and observed that "the great popular heart is not now and never has been in the war. It was a revolution of the politicians; not the people."

Source: McKinney, Gordon B., "Layers of Loyalty: Confederate Nationalism and Amnesty Letters from Western North Carolina." Civil War History, Volume 51, Number 1, March 2005, pp. 5-22.


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