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A Separate Civil War

A Separate Civil War: Communities in Conflict in the Mountain South

Jonathan Dean Sarris
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    A Separate Civil War
    Book Description:

    Most Americans think of the Civil War as a series of dramatic clashes between massive armies led by romantic-seeming leaders. But in the Appalachian communities of North Georgia, things were very different. Focusing on Fannin and Lumpkin counties in the Blue Ridge Mountains along Georgia's northern border, A Separate Civil War: Communities in Conflict in the Mountain South argues for a more localized, idiosyncratic understanding of this momentous period in our nation's history. The book reveals that, for many participants, this war was fought less for abstract ideological causes than for reasons tied to home, family, friends, and community.

    Making use of a large trove of letters, diaries, interviews, government documents, and sociological data, Jonathan Dean Sarris brings to life a previously obscured version of our nation's most divisive and destructive war. From the outset, the prospect of secession and war divided Georgia's mountain communities along the lines of race and religion, and war itself only heightened these tensions. As the Confederate government began to draft men into the army and seize supplies from farmers, many mountaineers became more disaffected still. They banded together in armed squads, fighting off Confederate soldiers, state militia, and their own pro-Confederate neighbors. A local civil war ensued, with each side seeing the other as a threat to law, order, and community itself. In this very personal conflict, both factions came to dehumanize their enemies and use methods that shocked even seasoned soldiers with their savagery. But when the war was over in 1865, each faction sought to sanitize the past and integrate its stories into the national myths later popularized about the Civil War. By arguing that the reason for choosing sides had more to do with local concerns than with competing ideologies or social or political visions, Sarris adds a much-needed complication to the question of why men fought in the Civil War.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3421-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The meteoric success of Charles Frazier’s 1997 novelCold Mountainsurprised many people. And well it should have. The novel does not offer the romantic portrayal of the Civil War found in much of the traditional fiction. InCold Mountain,there are no grand battles, no victories, and no glory. Instead, Frazier tells a story of a broken, disillusioned exsoldier and a civilian population numbed and brutalized by conflict. The novel awakened the American public to a version of the Civil War very different from the celebratory, heroic one found in many previous popular treatments. Frazier gave Americans a new...

    (pp. 7-43)

    Perhaps no region of the United States has been so misunderstood and misrepresented as the Southern mountain lands known collectively asAppalachia.When Americans think of Appalachia, they often believe it to be a distinct region with identifiable characteristics. Fed by media depictions and the writings of some “experts,” our society has constructed a cultural stereotype of a people and a region. The characteristics of this stereotype are obvious to most readers: Appalachia is poor, backward, isolated, wild, rugged, mysterious, unique. And, above all, Appalachia is basically the same all over. Scholars have made some similar assumptions and have argued...

  7. 2 “This Unpatriotic Imputation”: MOUNTAIN IMAGES IN SECESSION AND WAR
    (pp. 44-64)

    On January 19, 1861, Georgia became the fifth Southern state to secede from the Union. In towns and cities across the state, people touched off cannons, fired muskets, rang courthouse bells, hammered on anvils, and shouted in jubilation. In Dahlonega, the anvils rang too. But the celebration was muted by uncertainty. It is doubtful that a majority of Georgians supported secession at that particular time, and nowhere was the doubt more palpable than in the mountain counties. During the winter elections for delegates to Georgia’s secession convention, two-thirds of all highland voters had cast ballots against immediate disunionist candidates. Fannin...

  8. 3 Rebels, Traitors, and Tories: LOYALTY AND COMMUNITY IN NORTH GEORGIA, 1862–1863
    (pp. 65-100)

    On January 25, 1863, Colonel George W. Lee led a mixed column of Confederate cavalry and Georgia militia into Dahlonega after a grueling week-long march from Atlanta through the cold and snow. As his tired soldiers trudged through streets of Lumpkin County’s seat, Lee reflected on his mission. The colonel normally commanded the Confederate post at Atlanta and was chiefly responsible for policing the city and keeping order. But directives from Governor Joseph E. Brown and Confederate Secretary of War James A. Seddon now brought Lee out of winter quarters and into the mountains in the middle of a north...

  9. 4 Hellish Deeds in a Christian Land: THE SOCIAL DYNAMICS OF VIOLENCE IN NORTH GEORGIA’S GUERRILLA WAR, 1864–1865
    (pp. 101-143)

    In October of 1864, U.S. Army Captain John Azor Kellogg escaped from a Confederate prisoner-of-war train and fled through the Southern Appalachians toward the safety of the Union lines in East Tennessee. On his journey he found refuge with a small colony of anti-Confederate guerrillas in north Georgia. The Tories quickly acquainted the Northern officer with the cruel realities of their own civil war, regaling him with horrifying tales of daily atrocities and merciless combat with Confederate authorities. One of Kellogg’s hosts told of a deserter whom Rebels had captured: “[they] tied him hand and foot, mutilated him in the...

    (pp. 144-180)

    In the decades following the Civil War, north Georgians shared in the national experiences of Reconstruction, modernization, and industrialization. They also endured unique problems dealing with the legacy of 1861–65. Former Tories and former Rebels continued their wartime rivalries, engaging in political, legal, and even physical combat. In addition, the opposing factions fought a long struggle over the construction of the past that overlay most postwar social and political conflicts. Ex-Rebels shared the Southern obsession with the Lost Cause and sought to carve out a special niche for mountaineers within Confederate mythology. Erstwhile Unionists opposed this characterization, casting doubt...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 181-184)

    Near the end of Charles Frazier’s novelCold Mountain,a cadre of Appalachian fugitives plots their escape. The Civil War is coming to a close, but the mountains are still full of uncertainty, ravaged by rival bands of pro-Confederates, Tories, and non-aligned outlaws. The leader of the group, named Inman, is a deserter from the Confederate army, and he ponders his chances for survival in this dangerous environment:

    The choices were these. Inman could return to the army. Short-handed as they were, he would be received with open arms and then immediately be put back in the muddy trenches of...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 185-210)
    (pp. 211-228)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 229-238)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-240)