Lincoln's Loyalists: Union Soldiers from the Confederacy
With this path-breaking book, Richard Nelson Current closes a major gap in our understanding of the important role of white southerners who fought for the Union during the Civil War. The ranks of the Union forces swelled by more than 100,000 of these men known to their friends as "loyalists" and to their enemies as "tories". They substantially strengthened the Union, weakened the Confederacy, and affected the outcome of the Civil War. Despite the assertions of southern governors that Lincoln would get no troops from the South to preserve the Union, every Confederate state except South Carolina provided at least a battalion of white troops for the Union Army. The role of black soldiers (including those from the South) continues to receive deserved attention. Curiously, little heed has been paid to the white southern supporters of the Union cause, and nothing has been published about the group as a whole. Relying almost entirely on primary sources, Current here opens the long-overdue investigation of these many Americans who, at great risk to themselves and their families, made a significant contribution to the Union's war effort. Current meticulously explores the history of the loyalists in each Confederate state during the war. Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia provided over 70 percent of the loyalist troops, but 10,000 from Arkansas, 7,000 from Louisiana, and thousands from North Carolina, Texas, and Alabama volunteered as well. The author weaves the separate state stories into an intriguing and detailed tapestry. The loyalists served in a variety of capacities--some performing mundane tasks, some fighting with valor. Whatever his individual role, each southerner joining the Unionconstituted a double loss to the Confederacy: a subtraction from its own ranks and an addition to the Union's. Undoubtedly, this played an important role in the Confederate defeat.
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