Showing posts with label in their own words. Show all posts
Showing posts with label in their own words. Show all posts

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Dear Little Boy

War is a dreadful thing, and I would rather do anything in the world than kill a man or help to kill one—but then if we were to let Lincoln’s army pass here, they might go into the State of Virginia and burn our homes and kill the old men and the women and children, and do a great deal more harm—and I am sure I would rather see a thousand of them killed around me, than to know that they had done any harm to my wife and dear little boys.

Source: Samuel J. C. Moore to “My Dear Little Boy,” May 16, 1861, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Also: Historical marker related to Samuel J. C. Moore

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tennessee Attitudes toward Slavery


Responding to a questionnaire sent out by the Tennessee historical committee in 1922, an aging Confederate veteran demonstrated intense class resentment. His father, Joseph Larkins, had owned 100 acres of Dixon County Land but no slaves.

"He did not lik[e] the slave owners," the son reported, "the slaveholders thought they wer[e] Better than the Poor People." The old soldier continued: "My father would not vote for a man that owned Slaves nor would he have anything to do with them." [footnote: SP Larkins, Civil War Veterans Questionnaire (Tennessee State library and archives, Nashville, Tenn.)]


Such candid observations appear frequently in a unique and often overlooked collection of documents known as the Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires.


Fred A Bailey, “Class and Tennessee's Confederate Generation,” The Journal Of Southern History Volume LI, No.1 (February 1985): 31.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Slavery Divides Southern Whites


East Tennesseans are well aware that their region was culturally distinctive from the rest of the state.

Oliver P. Temple, a prominent Unionist and Knoxville attorney, observed in 1912 that the "overpowering influence of slavery, [and] the fear of falling under the condemnation of the mighty oligarchy of slaveholders, to some extent paralyzed the minds" of many East Tennesseans.

In their questionnaires Confederate veterans from the region also recognized the social importance of Unionism. As William Morelock pointed out, in upper East Tennessee the classes were "antagonistic at [the] beginning and close of [the] war... The community was divided in Sentiment Federal and Confederate." A Jackson County aristocrat concurred. In his neighborhood "about half of the non-slaveholding class went off with the Federal's and it was several years after the war before harmony was restored."

Fred A Bailey, “Class and Tennessee's Confederate Generation,” The Journal Of Southern History Volume LI, No.1 (February 1985): 46.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Arms! Our Soil Must be Defended!


In spite of measurable social strife during the antebellum era, Tennessee's Confederate generation entered the Civil War fairly united. To be sure, a majority of the east Tennesseans, as well as a substantial number living near the western shore of the Tennessee River, sided with the Union. Most of the remainder enrolled under the Confederate banner. Youths volunteered, emboldened by patriotic fervor, excited by the god of adventure, and blinded to the carnage of combat. Rebel companies enlisted by communities where dissent was associated with treason, and failure to join was tainted with cowardice.

Class antagonisms were momentarily set aside in the confusion of crisis. "To arms!" Admonished a Hickman County colonel in his recruiting circular. "Our Southern soil must be defended. We must not stop to ask who brought about the war, who is at fault, but let us go and do battle… And then settle the question who is to blame."

Fred A Bailey, “Class and Tennessee's Confederate Generation,” The Journal Of Southern History Volume LI, No.1 (February 1985): 50.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fighting for Slavery


More than one out of four of Tennessee's confederate generation remembered class strife.

"Those who didn't owned slaves hated those who did," declared an upper class Madison Countian. He further stressed that "Antagonism was mostly the fault of the non-slaveholders."


Fred A Bailey, "Class and Tennessee's Confederate Generation," The Journal Of Southern History Volume LI, No.1 (February 1985): 49.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Social Class and Confederate desertions

Defeats and deprivations contributed to significant attrition among Tennessee soldiers. At the war's end thousands were removed from active service by wounds, by imprisonments, or by desertions. Only a handful of the veterans confessed to military infidelity. In 1865, however, many were absent from their units on furlough, searching for horses, or, in what was probably a euphemism for desertion, "cut off from their companies."

... Among those who filled out the questionnaire only about 50% of the poor, the non-slaveholding yeoman, and the slave owning yeoman, surrendered with an active command. In the war's last Spring, 70% of the wealthy remained faithful to the Rebel crusade.

Fred A Bailey, “Class and Tennessee's Confederate Generation,” The Journal Of Southern History Volume LI, No.1 (February 1985): 52, 53.

Poor Soldiers

"A renter had no chance to save anything," remonstrated William Beard, "slave holders were the only men that could make enough money to do anything."

William Eskew complained that "Th[e]re was no chance for a young foreman for his wages was so low... [He Was] discouraged by the Slaveholders."

George V. Payne even accused the planter class of keeping the poor down "so they could make slaves of them,” and A.J. Ferrell wrote with bitterness: "if [the wealthy] had not owned slaves as a working man I... could have secured better wages."

Fred A Bailey, “Class and Tennessee's Confederate Generation,” The Journal Of Southern History Volume LI, No.1 (February 1985): 36.