In his review of The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies, published July 14, 2010 in The Nation magazine, Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, wrote the following:
One of the more fascinating figures Bynum discusses is Newt Knight, the leader of an armed band of Unionists in Jones County who lived with a black woman and became “the patriarch of an extensive mixed-race community.” Bynum relates his long, unsuccessful campaign for monetary compensation from the federal government for his wartime activities. She also explores the fate of his mixed-race children and grandchildren. Some identified as people of color; some disappeared into white society. One descendant, Davis Knight, served in the Army during World War II, married a white woman in 1946 and two years later was convicted in Mississippi of the crime of miscegenation. The Confederacy certainly cast a long shadow.
Long Shadow of the Civil War is a study of community, kinship, and war that highlights Southerners who defied the norms of their society. Here, you will meet men like Newt Knight of the “Free State of Jones,” and women such as Caroline Moore of the North Carolina Quaker Belt, who forcibly rejected the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy.
This study demolishes the image of a solid (white) South with histories of Southerners who engaged in interracial relationships that forged deep ties of kinship among people of European, African, and Native Americans ancestry, while living in a world steeped in unequal relations of power.
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. Long Shadow of the Civil War recognizes the validity of such histories, but takes us beyond the stereotypical South by focusing on Southerners who went against type.
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 Warren J. Collins, the Texas Unionist who evolved into a New South populist, then socialist, or the multiracial Knight 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. This book is available for purchase here or here or here, in hardback, paperback, and digital formats.
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), in which we discussed the possibility of a second book.