Unionism

jgoodguy

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Aug 17, 2011
Messages
35,407
Location
Birmingham, Alabama
#21
Too often, we assume that a person must be defined and then crammed into a pigeon hole for all eternity. Jubal Early strongly opposed secession before the war, so I guess that makes him a Unionist. But then, he eventually became the most fervent Confederate of them all and probably played a greater role in creating Lost Cause historiography than any other single individual.

The residents of Vicksburg voted against secession, so I guess that makes them Unionist. But just weeks later, they cheered themselves horse as Jefferson Davis passed through town on his way to Montgomery to assume the office as President of the Confederate states. So they're pretty obviously Confederates.

People are too complicated to be labeled with such designations as we are wont to give them.
The term union itself has undergone changes too, complicating the question. Was it a consolidated union or a confederated union? A man in his lifetime might fight for the Confederacy then fight for the United States. A key contention of the secessionists was that the Northerners broke the Union. The matter is complicated.
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Messages
610
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
#22
This is quite true of my home state of West Virginia, which is highly misunderstood by historians like William Freehling and the current batch of "southern unionist" historians, which seems quite the thing these days. While, as a group (which is actually very problematic since they were all individual counties) West Virginians voted 2 to 1 against the secession ordinance it is wrong to consider that vote "Union". It broke down almost immediately when McClellan entered West Virginia. (I don't want to say "invaded" since some people don't like that term, although McClellan's dispatches are headed 'Army of Occupation'). Counties along the southern Ohio border raised Confederate troops far above their vote against the secession ordinance. An Ohio newspaper, the Cleveland Morning Leader, published an interview with a Unionist refugee from Kanawha County on June 4, 1861-

The situation of affairs there at this time is peculiar. The county gave 1400 for Union the other day, and yet the Unionists are daily in danger of insult, and even personal injury. Outside of the town people, the greater part of the population are "poor whites", whose only ambition and interest is to be a good shot, to be able to drink down a pint of raw whiskey, and to have enough "hog and hominy" to eat.

One great dead weight upon all expression of approval of the course of the government is the State pride of which we have before spoken, and which disposes the possessor of the feeling to resent any real or fancied insult to the State. The common people, who are not well informed enough to know the plan of the administration, or to understand it if they did, are easily moved by this feeling, and under the influence of their leaders, are bitterly hostile to the presence of any foreign troops.

Historians such as Freehling also seem unaware that while the 49 delegates representing the future West Virginia at the Richmond convention voted 32-13 against the ordinance, with 4 missing votes, once Union troops entered West Virginia most of those men returned to Richmond in June for the second session and 29 eventually signed the ordinance. Benjamin Wilson of Harrison County could not return, since he was arrested in Clarksburg by Union troops before he could leave, but he signed the ordinance at the end of April.

Delegates for counties in blue signed the ordinance, counties in white did not sign, and counties if purple had one of two delegates sign.

View attachment 301407
Good points. I find West Va history fascinating.
 



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top