Open Debate Were Tennesseans less likely to fight?

lupaglupa

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Since I've been home during quarantine I've had more time to input family history and it's reminded me of an odd fact about my ancestors - the men from Tennessee rarely fought in the Civil War. On my Mississippi side everyone fought. I am hard pressed to find any male member of my family between 14 and 50 who didn't join a unit and go to war. But my Tennessee side is the opposite. I have maybe one or two soldiers in the group - and it's a lot bigger pool of people than my Mississippi relatives.

Is this just a quirk of my family? Or were men from Tennessee less likely to join up? If so, did that differ by region? My people all come from Middle Tennessee. They saw plenty of nearby action during the war. But they kept to their farms.

Anybody have info or speculation on this?
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Since I've been home during quarantine I've had more time to input family history and it's reminded me of an odd fact about my ancestors - the men from Tennessee rarely fought in the Civil War. On my Mississippi side everyone fought. I am hard pressed to find any male member of my family between 14 and 50 who didn't join a unit and go to war. But my Tennessee side is the opposite. I have maybe one or two soldiers in the group - and it's a lot bigger pool of people than my Mississippi relatives.

Is this just a quirk of my family? Or were men from Tennessee less likely to join up? If so, did that differ by region? My people all come from Middle Tennessee. They saw plenty of nearby action during the war. But they kept to their farms.

Anybody have info or speculation on this?

As a rule, west and middle Tennessee were heavily Confederate, but like east Tennessee, there was Union sentiment. They may have been Union, or served in Confederate units from Alabama maybe?
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Since I've been home during quarantine I've had more time to input family history and it's reminded me of an odd fact about my ancestors - the men from Tennessee rarely fought in the Civil War. On my Mississippi side everyone fought. I am hard pressed to find any male member of my family between 14 and 50 who didn't join a unit and go to war. But my Tennessee side is the opposite. I have maybe one or two soldiers in the group - and it's a lot bigger pool of people than my Mississippi relatives.

Is this just a quirk of my family? Or were men from Tennessee less likely to join up? If so, did that differ by region? My people all come from Middle Tennessee. They saw plenty of nearby action during the war. But they kept to their farms.

Anybody have info or speculation on this?

 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Since I've been home during quarantine I've had more time to input family history and it's reminded me of an odd fact about my ancestors - the men from Tennessee rarely fought in the Civil War. On my Mississippi side everyone fought. I am hard pressed to find any male member of my family between 14 and 50 who didn't join a unit and go to war. But my Tennessee side is the opposite. I have maybe one or two soldiers in the group - and it's a lot bigger pool of people than my Mississippi relatives.

Is this just a quirk of my family? Or were men from Tennessee less likely to join up? If so, did that differ by region? My people all come from Middle Tennessee. They saw plenty of nearby action during the war. But they kept to their farms.

Anybody have info or speculation on this?
Your family members are not unique. Many young men on both sides did not wish to fight or if they did enlist chose to desert. I have some threads on both Union and Confederate desertion. A fair amount of Union men simply fled to Canada. In 1864 many Confederate guerrllas just gave up and moved to the present day state of Montana.
Different Strokes for different folks.
Leftyhunter
 

Peace Society

Corporal
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Location
Ark Mo line
an odd fact about my ancestors - the men from Tennessee rarely fought in the Civil War. On my Mississippi side everyone fought. I am hard pressed to find any male member of my family between 14 and 50 who didn't join a unit and go to war. But my Tennessee side is the opposite. I have maybe one or two soldiers in the group - and it's a lot bigger pool of people than my Mississippi relatives.

Is this just a quirk of my family? Or were men from Tennessee less likely to join up? If so, did that differ by region? My people all come from Middle Tennessee. They saw plenty of nearby action during the war. But they kept to their farms.

Anybody have info or speculation on this?
Interesting theory. Maybe that's why my family never talked about the CW. The only one I know about is Col. RTP Allen from Texas. Maybe the rest were still in TN or too newly come to Ark to feel involved. Haven't had the opportunity to do much digging into family history. We do know that men from TN fought on both sides. Wonder what the proportion to population was.
 

lupaglupa

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
@east tennessee roots I take seriously the fact that I could have missed service by some of the men in the family. But I'm talking about dozens of people here and I find no records for any of them. Very odd. The few that did serve I easily located.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Would also be instructive to know percentage of population serving on each side from each state, for comparison.
That would be very difficult as it was common for all regiments to have out of state troops. Even the Missouri State Militia had troops from Illinois.
The 20th Indiana had troops from Alabama ,the 6th Kentucky Union had troops from Tennessee etc.
It wasn't uncommon for men to serve in both the Confederate and Union armies. I have a thread "Who has Unionist ancestors" and some of our posters had ancestors who fought for both armies.
Leftyhunter
 

Peace Society

Corporal
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Location
Ark Mo line
Maybe that can be someone's school project, poring through all the enlistments to find those proportions. The ones serving both sides would certainly throw things off. Would also need to keep track of re-enlistments. Would territories count?
 

ErnieMac

Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Retired Moderator
Joined
May 3, 2013
Location
Pennsylvania
Of the states that seceded (not including Missouri and Kentucky) Tennessee had the second highest free population in the Confederacy, but ranked fourth in the number of troops contributed to the Confederate armies. That may be partially because of the Unionist sentiment of East Tennessee, but I think the progress of the War was more responsible. By early June, 1862, Federal troops occupied Nashville, Memphis and the most populous 2/3 of the state. By September, 1863, almost the entire state was occupied. With Union troops in control, recruitment was hazardous, and conscription impossible. Raids by Forrest and, to a lesser extent Morgan, were the only real means of getting men out of Tennessee and into the Confederate armies. Those men who were inclined to support the Confederacy also had to face the issue of abandoning their families while under Federal occupation.
 

Rhea Cole

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
My g-g-grandfather in Cross Plaines TN & his neighbors had a meeting in 1861. They drew straws to see who would join the army & who would stay home, farm & keep the slaves under control. He stayed home & farmed for the duration. If you happened to live in territory out of the reach of conscription officers from both sides it was possible to stay home. Not owning any slaves might have colored his decision not to fight.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Of the states that seceded (not including Missouri and Kentucky) Tennessee had the second highest free population in the Confederacy, but ranked fourth in the number of troops contributed to the Confederate armies. That may be partially because of the Unionist sentiment of East Tennessee, but I think the progress of the War was more responsible. By early June, 1862, Federal troops occupied Nashville, Memphis and the most populous 2/3 of the state. By September, 1863, almost the entire state was occupied. With Union troops in control, recruitment was hazardous, and conscription impossible. Raids by Forrest and, to a lesser extent Morgan, were the only real means of getting men out of Tennessee and into the Confederate armies. Those men who were inclined to support the Confederacy also had to face the issue of abandoning their families while under Federal occupation.
Hard to know. But if a man from Tennessee got to Ohio, he probably did not register to vote and was anonymous except to his employer, or the owner he was renting from. If he got as far as Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa, conscription did not hit those states as hard, because they could meet their quotas. If he got to Oregon, he was out of the war and many places in Texas resisted conscription, especially after July 1863.
I suspect that a lot of men figured out quickly, if they did not own any slaves, and were not interested in that business, they had no stake in the war.
 
Last edited:

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
But I suspect e. Tennessee was much like Kentucky. Men figured this was not their fight and even if they enlisted, tried to not get killed rather tried to be heroes.
 

TerryB

Major
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Location
Nashville TN
It all, depends. Two of mine from the Upper Cumberland area probably joined Bragg in Nov 1862 to avoid conscription. Both were captured in 1864, having been left behind on Bragg's retreat from Tullahoma. They had two sisters who were secret couriers for notorious guerrilla Champ Ferguson. In that area, the war was like a family feud when the main armies weren't around. Guerrilla atrocities abounded on both sides. Everyone else in my family from that area were in the regular Confederate cavalry and fought for the duration. I have a blacksmith account book from the 1890s that shows one of the two men I mentioned was doing work for both pro-Union and pro-Confederates, as well as black families. He did 10 months at Camp Chase POW camp and came home in May 1865, broken in health.
 

TerryB

Major
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Location
Nashville TN
I've mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating. When my grandma from White County, Tenn saw a group of kinfolk coming toward the house, she'd joke, "Well, here comes Bragg's Army." I took it to mean they might just be a very hungry bunch to feed. I don't think she meant it as an insult, but she may have heard it that way when growing up...like "Boy, are they ragged and dirty!" To her, I think it just meant a bunch of mouths to cook for.
 
Top