Unionism on the Eastern Shore

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Messages
3,187
Location
New Jersey
#1
I am reading a book right now, a biography of Ambrose Burnside, and the author made what I found to be an interesting aside where he comments that most Virginians on the Eastern Shore were Unionists. This surprised me as I thought that the Unionist region of Virginia was only the western part. I also thought that in Maryland t its Eastern Shore region was also strongly secessionist. So are there any studies, or just informed opinion on this? Was the eastern Shore Unionist or secessionist in feeling? Thanks
 

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Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
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30,374
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Long Island, NY
#2
I am reading a book right now, a biography of Ambrose Burnside, and the author made what I found to be an interesting aside where he comments that most Virginians on the Eastern Shore were Unionists. This surprised me as I thought that the Unionist region of Virginia was only the western part. I also thought that in Maryland t its Eastern Shore region was also strongly secessionist. So are there any studies, or just informed opinion on this? Was the eastern Shore Unionist or secessionist in feeling? Thanks
That is surprising.
 

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Messages
3,187
Location
New Jersey
#4
Wow! Those statistics on enlistment from those two Virginia counties are a real eye opener. Thanks for that link, Sgt. Drew, especially the one from the census of survivors made in 1890. I had no idea that so many Virginians from that region so sided with the Union that they would join up in those numbers, far outnumbering those listed as Confederate veterans. I sometimes think today's residents in areas that remained Unionist like to identify with ancestors who were Confederates out of some kind of nostalgia but if these records are correct, the author of that biography on Burnside got it right when he claimed the area was Unionist. I never would have thought that. I wonder if similar records are available for the Maryland Eastern Shore counties?
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,816
#5
Wow! Those statistics on enlistment from those two Virginia counties are a real eye opener. Thanks for that link, Sgt. Drew, especially the one from the census of survivors made in 1890. I had no idea that so many Virginians from that region so sided with the Union that they would join up in those numbers, far outnumbering those listed as Confederate veterans. I sometimes think today's residents in areas that remained Unionist like to identify with ancestors who were Confederates out of some kind of nostalgia but if these records are correct, the author of that biography on Burnside got it right when he claimed the area was Unionist. I never would have thought that. I wonder if similar records are available for the Maryland Eastern Shore counties?
You're most welcome. I said, "I think," because I'm not sure, but there are some issues to be aware of. First, the Union was concerned enough about the region to send an occupation force pretty early in the war. If you poke around the website, you'll find over 100 of 1200 local militia skedaddled across the bay and joined the Confederate Army. Ultimately, about 450 men from the region joined the Confederates.

It's interesting to see quite a number of USCT survivors in the 1890 census as well. But keep in mind, that year's census was almost completely destroyed by fire and it's not conclusive evidence of anything - there's just not enough left of it.

It would be fun to try and figure out if Burnside's biographer actually got it right. Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore are also pretty interesting. I'll poke around and see what can be found. So much to do, so little time.
 

Jamieva

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Messages
4,135
Location
Midlothian, VA
#6
My maternal grandfather is from the VA portion of the eastern shore in Accomack county. There are 2 Halls listed in Accomack that fought it looks like at least 1 for the Union. It doesn't appear they are a direct descendent but would have to look deeper into it. If true I had people on my mom's side fighting for the Union and on my dads side for the confederacy
 

16thVA

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 8, 2008
Messages
1,345
Location
Philadelphia
#7
Wow! Those statistics on enlistment from those two Virginia counties are a real eye opener. Thanks for that link, Sgt. Drew, especially the one from the census of survivors made in 1890. I had no idea that so many Virginians from that region so sided with the Union that they would join up in those numbers, far outnumbering those listed as Confederate veterans. I sometimes think today's residents in areas that remained Unionist like to identify with ancestors who were Confederates out of some kind of nostalgia but if these records are correct, the author of that biography on Burnside got it right when he claimed the area was Unionist. I never would have thought that. I wonder if similar records are available for the Maryland Eastern Shore counties?

The 1890 Census, unfortunately, was concerned only with counting Union veterans, so most Confederate veterans will not be there though some did accidently get on the list.
 

EJ Zander

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,344
Location
Gettysburg, PA
#8
The Eastern Shore is an interesting subject and worth investigating. It includes smuggling everything from footwear to coffee. William Purnell, postmaster of Baltimore, commanded Purnell's legion. He was a Worcester County native but a Union commander. He was sent to Worcester's neighbor, Somerset County in November 1861 (If memory serves) to stop ballot stuffing during a special election.
Another local subject to research is Congressman John Crisfield and his arguments to stay pro union. He thought that if the shore sided with the south they would be a first strike target due to its proximatey to the north. He also reasoned that if they stayed in the Union their timber and livestock would be worth a good bit to the Union. This would allow the landowners to maximize profits. Interesting angle.He was born and educated in Kent County Maryland on the northern eastern shore. He later moved down to Princess Anne on the lower shore. In the 1860 election Somerset voted for Constitutional Unionist John Bell.
I used to work in Accomack County and have family in Worcester County. I will down in Berlin all next week visiting Gmom. She is about to turn 99 and is sharp as a tack. I think I will bring this topic up.
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,816
#9
I will down in Berlin all next week visiting Gmom. She is about to turn 99 and is sharp as a tack. I think I will bring this topic up.
Bless her - enjoy and please let us know if she's recollection to share.
 



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