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Sister States, Enemy States

Sister States, Enemy States: The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee

Kent T. Dollar
Larry H. Whiteaker
W. Calvin Dickinson
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 402
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    Sister States, Enemy States
    Book Description:

    The fifteenth and sixteenth states to join the United States of America, Kentucky and Tennessee were cut from a common cloth -- the rich region of the Ohio River Valley. Abounding with mountainous regions and fertile farmlands, these two slaveholding states were as closely tied to one another, both culturally and economically, as they were to the rest of the South. Yet when the Civil War erupted, Tennessee chose to secede while Kentucky remained part of the Union. The residents of Kentucky and Tennessee felt the full impact of the fighting as warring armies crossed back and forth across their borders. Due to Kentucky's strategic location, both the Union and the Confederacy sought to control it throughout the war, while Tennessee was second only to Virginia in the number of battles fought on its soil. Additionally, loyalties in each state were closely divided between the Union and the Confederacy, making wartime governance -- and personal relationships -- complex. In Sister States, Enemy States: The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee, editors Kent T. Dollar, Larry H. Whiteaker, and W. Calvin Dickinson explore how the war affected these two crucial states, and how they helped change the course of the war. Essays by prominent Civil War historians, including Benjamin Franklin Cooling, Marion Lucas, Tracy McKenzie, and Kenneth Noe, add new depth to aspects of the war not addressed elsewhere. The collection opens by recounting each state's debate over secession, detailing the divided loyalties in each as well as the overt conflict that simmered in East Tennessee. The editors also spotlight the war's overlooked participants, including common soldiers, women, refugees, African American soldiers, and guerrilla combatants. The book concludes by analyzing the difficulties these states experienced in putting the war behind them. The stories of Kentucky and Tennessee are a vital part of the larger narrative of the Civil War. Sister States, Enemy States offers fresh insights into the struggle that left a lasting mark on Kentuckians and Tennesseans, just as it left its mark on the nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7337-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Larry H. Whiteaker

    Kentucky and Tennessee. Tennessee and Kentucky. Sister states. Enemy states. From the 1770s, when settlers from Virginia and North Carolina began to move into the lush valleys of East Tennessee and central Kentucky, these two states would be linked—whether the residents wished this or not—in the national consciousness. Even with many similarities—terrain, climate, settlers’ background, and religion, to name a few—there would always be major differences. By the 1820s, for example, a huge political rift would develop, pitting the followers of Kentucky’s Henry Clay against the followers of Tennessee’s Andrew Jackson. The ultimate difference would come...

  5. Part 1: Secession in Kentucky and Tennessee

    • Beleaguered Loyalties: Kentucky Unionism
      (pp. 9-24)
      Gary R. Matthews

      On the eve of the Civil War, as the Southern states began to organize under the banner of a nascent confederacy, Jefferson Davis looked toward Kentucky with no less covetous eyes than did Abraham Lincoln and the federal government. Both presidents, Kentuckians by birth, measured the worth of the Bluegrass State to their respective nations in relative terms. Lincoln, always the gifted and pragmatic politician, viewed Kentucky much like a politician would the votes of a needed swing state in a presidential election and remained determined to deny the state’s resources to the South. Davis, a West Point graduate, instinctively...

    • Not a Pariah, but a Keystone: Kentucky and Secession
      (pp. 25-45)
      Thomas C. Mackey

      In 1926, E. Merton Coulter, Kentucky’s Lost Cause historian, publishedThe Civil War and Readjustment in Kentucky, his still widely cited interpretation of the Bluegrass commonwealth in the era of the U.S. Civil War.¹ Included in it is a December 7, 1864, report by Asst. Insp. Gen. E. H. Ludington to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. In that report, Ludington noted the pro-Confederate guerrilla bands that had appeared in the commonwealth and the hostility of the “loyal” state citizens toward the recruitment of black soldiers for the Union army. He blamed Governor Thomas E. Bramlette for encouraging these signs...

    • The Vortex of Secession: West Tennesseans and the Rush to War
      (pp. 46-71)
      Derek W. Frisby

      Meredith P. Gentry, like many Tennesseans of the antebellum era, “had always loved the Union” and never believed in secession as “a remedy for any evil, real or imagined.” Indeed, prior to 1860, the state had been instrumental in quashing the idea of secession and its intellectual cousin, nullification. Andrew Jackson’s victory at New Orleans with his Tennessee Volunteers had stifled the resolutions of the Hartford Convention in 1815 and ushered in a wave of nationalism. Jackson’s resolve, bolstered by Tennesseans’ enthusiastic support, had also cowed the nullifiers of South Carolina in 1831–1832. In 1850, when Fire-Eaters from the...

    • “An unconditional, straight-out Union man”: Parson Brownlow and the Secession Crisis in East Tennessee
      (pp. 72-96)
      Robert Tracy McKenzie

      Most in the auditorium on that May evening in 1862 were surely disappointed by the guest of honor’s appearance. From his reputation, they had expected the “celebrated exile” from the Confederacy to look more imposing, to embody physically the undaunted courage and unflinching resolve that all knew to be his defining traits. Instead, the “martyr” from East Tennessee looked thin and frail, his shoulders stooped, his face haggard and—to be candid—homely. (What else could you say about a man whom a sympathetic reporter characterized as “not quite as handsome as Mr. Lincoln”?) Yet, when the speaker was led...

    • “We can never live in a southern confederacy”: The Civil War in East Tennessee
      (pp. 97-120)
      John D. Fowler

      “We can never live in a southern confederacy and be made hewers of wood and drawers of water for a set of aristocrats and overbearing tyrants,” asserted William G. “Parson” Brownlow, the publisher of theKnoxville Whig, as the debate over secession echoed through the hollows, coves, and mountains of East Tennessee. The itinerant Methodist minister and newspaper editor’s words reached a receptive audience. While Middle and West Tennessee embraced secession following Lincoln’s call for troops to quell the rebellion in the Deep South, the majority of East Tennesseans refused to abandon their allegiance to the old Union. This precipitated...

  6. Part 2: Traitors, Blacks, and Guerrillas in Wartime Kentucky and Tennessee

    • “Battle against the traitors”: Unionist Middle Tennesseans in the Ninth Kentucky Infantry and What They Fought For
      (pp. 123-139)
      Kenneth W. Noe

      According to Richard Nelson Current, as many as 100,000 white Southerners from the seceded states fought in Union blue during the Civil War, fully a tenth of all white soldiers the Confederacy furnished. Nearly half of them, 42,000 men, came from East Tennessee. That region’s loyalty to the Union is familiar to students of the war, of course, while the Unionism of other mountain residents is routinely discussed, if often overstated. In contrast, despite welcome recent attention from scholars, the experiences of the South’s non-Appalachian Unionists remain greatly overshadowed by both the war fought by their highland comrades and especially...

    • “Time by the forelock”: Champ Ferguson and the Borderland Style of Warfare
      (pp. 140-167)
      Brian D. McKnight

      During the Civil War, the boundary separating Tennessee and Kentucky was one of the most hotly contested regions in North America. What the Confederate States sought to defend as an international border the United States worked to prove moot. Champ Ferguson, a forty-year-old farmer, lived just north of this all-important line. Having been born and reared in Clinton County, Kentucky, Ferguson was acutely aware of his proximity to Tennessee and, like others of his region, crossed the border frequently for social and economic reasons. However, the interstate border that could be taken for granted became a much more rigid dividing...

    • “I shoot the men and burn their houses”: Home Fires in the Line of Fire
      (pp. 168-187)
      Michael R. Bradley

      When the Civil War began, both Northerners and Southerners believed that they were the victims of aggression. The bombardment of Fort Sumter was to the North a clear example of Southern belligerence. The South considered itself under attack as early as 1854 when conflict arose in Kansas and the use of violence to end slavery became acceptable to certain parties in the North. Indeed, John Brown’s raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry in October 1859, with the intent of inciting a slave rebellion, and the acclaim of Brown as a martyr by some Northerners increased this sentiment. For...

    • Freedom Is Better Than Slavery: Black Families and Soldiers in Civil War Kentucky
      (pp. 188-216)
      Marion B. Lucas

      In the late 1850s, many of Kentucky’s blacks were aware of the growing antagonism between the North and the South, the role of slavery in the controversy, and the potential impact on their lives. A few, both free and slave, fearing the worst, fled north of the Ohio River at the first opportunity. By 1860, others, aware of the association of Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign with the antislavery movement, eagerly waited for and talked openly of anticipated freedom. After the election, rumors of imminent emancipation continued to spread, and, in one area of central Kentucky, slaves became convinced that they...

    • A Long Way from Freedom: Camp Nelson Refugees
      (pp. 217-244)
      Richard D. Sears

      Dictionaries definerefugeesas people displaced from theircountryby war, persecution, famine, or disaster. But clearly the term is applied to those homeless or imperiled within their own nation. It is also used to describe groups that are simply not where they aresupposedto be. In practice, refugees are the people, sometimes quite helpless, who have suddenly become an unexpected and unwanted responsibility within a purview—the system or, let us say, the military camp—where some alien authority, not necessarily of a different nationality, must respond. Nobody wantsthemhere, butweare responsible for them: the...

    • “Not much a friend to traiters no matter how beautiful”: The Union Military and Confederate Women in Civil War Kentucky
      (pp. 245-264)
      Kristen L. Streater

      The divisive nature of the Civil War in Kentucky presented unique challenges for the Union military authorities trying to prevent the state from joining the Confederacy. While most of the state’s civilian population threw its support behind the Union, a strong, vocal, and active group of Confederate sympathizers competed for the state’s loyalties. As did Union women, Kentucky’s Confederate women played important roles in sustaining the Rebel cause through their traditional domestic activities like sewing and provisioning. However, in the context of a civil war, such support was politicized by both the Confederate women themselves and their Union military opponents....

  7. Part 3: War’s Impact in Kentucky and Tennessee

    • “My trust is still firmly fixed in God”: Alfred T. Fielder, His Christian Faith, and the Ordeal of War
      (pp. 267-285)
      Kent T. Dollar

      Soldiers experienced extraordinary hardships during the Civil War. They served long stints in the army far away from hearth and home, they watched comrades fall in battle, and each soldier faced the possibility of death. The conflict tested the endurance of soldiers on both sides, and thousands sought refuge in religion and relied on God to carry on. But how did their religious faith help them persevere? What impact did their trust in God have on their courage in battle? And how was their faith affected as a result?

      The example of Alfred T. Fielder, a Tennessee soldier, offers some...

    • An Interrupted Life: Colonel Sidney Smith Stanton
      (pp. 286-298)
      W. Calvin Dickinson

      Civil War historians often paint with a broad brush, devoting little attention to individual soldiers and the impact of the war on their lives. But hundreds of thousands of individuals put their civilian lives on hold to serve in the Civil War armies. Many of these men perished during the four-year-long conflict, never to return home and realize their prewar promise. Tennessean Sidney Smith Stanton was one such individual. The ninth child of a large family, Stanton accomplished a great deal in the middle of the nineteenth century, especially in politics. But his promising political career ended with his service...

    • The Failure of Restoration: Wartime Reconstruction in Tennessee, 1862–1865
      (pp. 299-319)
      Jonathan M. Atkins

      Tennessee’s experience under a Confederate state government proved short. In June 1861, voters approved the state’s “Declaration of Independence” and membership in the Confederacy. Only eight months later, after the surrender of Fort Donelson to the Union general Ulysses S. Grant on February 16, 1862, the state government abandoned Nashville just before the Confederate army evacuated the city. While Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s army followed up Grant’s victory and occupied the capital, the Tennessee General Assembly reconvened in Memphis. With additional Union forces moving into West Tennessee, however, lawmakers and state officials scattered. On March 20, Tennessee’s Confederate legislature adjourned...

    • Reconstruction Power Play: The 1867 Mayoral Election in Nashville, Tennessee
      (pp. 320-337)
      Ben H. Severance

      In September 1867, the city of Nashville went through what was probably the most controversial municipal election in its history. One of several exciting episodes in Tennessee’s Reconstruction, the Nashville election pitted two unforgiving opponents against one another: the Conservative incumbents, led by Mayor W. Matt Brown, and the Radical Republican challengers, backed by Governor William G. Brownlow, a man notorious for his vitriolic hatred of anything that smacked of rebellion. The respective platforms were unimportant; political power was the objective, and the election was a showdown. In their efforts to prevail, both sides insisted on election procedures that would...

    • After the Horror: Kentucky in Reconstruction
      (pp. 338-362)
      B. Franklin Cooling

      Thomas Parsons, a Kentucky Unionist farmer and wartime home guard member, recalled in 1901 how four decades earlier Confederate soldiers from southwest Virginia had gone to Mt. Sterling for parole. The intent, he said, “was to muster out the Rebel armies and get the country back as nearly to its normal condition as possible.” While watching the surrender, which lasted for several days, he recognized many of the ex-Confederates as his former school chums. A little later, one approached him and queried: “Mr., what are they going to do with us fellows?” Presumably, the fear was imprisonment or worse. Parsons...

  8. Afterword
    (pp. 363-368)
    John V. Cimprich

    Over twenty years ago, Benjamin Franklin Cooling argued that events in Kentucky and Tennessee determined the outcome of the Civil War. Certainly, major campaigns there led to an extensive Federal occupation as well as important Confederate invasions, cavalry raids, and guerrilla activity. In any case, developments in the two states illustrate much about the nature of the war in all the Upper South. This collection offers insights into a wide range of topics beyond the well-known battles.¹

    From the essays of Gary R. Matthews, Thomas C. Mackey, Derek W. Frisby, Robert Tracy McKenzie, and John D. Fowler, one can conclude...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 369-372)
  10. Index
    (pp. 373-392)