The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies is a study of community, kinship, and war that highlights Southerners who defied the norms of their society. Typically, television, movies, novels–and even mainstream newscasts–present us with white southerners who take unusual pride in ancestry, revere military traditions, and glory in the causes of both the American Revolution and Civil War. Likewise, racial segregation is frequently emphasized, with black and brown Southerners accordingly presented within the historical contexts of slavery, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement. Whereas Long Shadow of the Civil War, recognizes the validity of such histories, it takes us beyond the stereotypical South by focusing on Southerners who went against type. You will meet men and women, for example, who forcibly rejected the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy. The image of a solid (white) South is challenged as well by stories of Southerners who engaged in interracial relationships, in the process forging deep ties of kinship that linked people of European, African, and Native Americans ancestry in a world steeped in unequal relations of power.
This book is the culmination of twenty-five years of research (much of which appears on this blog), including Civil War dissenters in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas. The North Carolina Piedmont, or “Quaker Belt,” the Mississippi Piney Woods, and the “Big Thicket” region of Hardin County, East Texas, form the geographic bases for eight individual essays that span the years 1861-1948. In these essays, you will meet Southern men and women who opposed the Confederacy, who rejected conventional politics and religion, or who refused to accept race-based citizenship. Many fought with force for their beliefs, earning labels for themselves such as renegade, outlaw, radical, or deviant.
In some essays, I combine two or all three of the regions for comparative purposes, or to explore a common theme or story. What connects all of them, however, are themes of community, family, and place. Whether about North Carolina women who protested against Confederate soldiers, or Newt Knight’s efforts to gain compensation from the U.S. Government for having supported the Union, or Texas Unionists who evolved into New South populists and socialists, or the multiracial community in Mississippi that emerged from anti-Confederate collaboration between blacks and whites, each essay features ordinary people whose lives were transformed by their responses to civil war, freedom from slavery, reconstruction of the nation, racial segregation, and the “New South” that arose from the ashes of war.
NOTE: If you visit Renegade South’s “Long Shadow of the Civil War” category, you’ll find posts that delve into the contents of the book. Below are selected reviews that appeared shortly after its publication. Following the reviews are links to interviews in which I discuss the themes of the book.
ONLINE REVIEWS of Long Shadow of the Civil War:
INTERVIEWS with Victoria Bynum:
Ann Strainchamps for “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” Wisconsin Public Radio
Veronica Rueckert, Wisconsin Public Radio, July 8, 2011:
An interview by David Woodbury: discussion of The Free State of Jones (2001), including mention of my plans to write a second book about Southern dissent during the Civil War era.
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