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  1. #27
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Tidewater's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatMarch View Post
    Yes, I guess that Selma, Montgomery, and Mobile ruled the politics of the state in the 19th century and into the early 20th century. It is interesting to study the landscape of of Alabama in its first 100 years as a state with the power being in the south and Demopolis as well. My maternal grandmother's father was born in 1879 and I remember as a small kid hearing conversations as if they were about modern happenings and looking back, I am astounded how sharp my GGF's mind was at 100 years of age.
    I would recommend J. Mills Thornton's Politics and Power in a Slave Society for the early Alabama history.
    Early Alabamians did not take kindly to being talked down to. Any politician that put on airs like he was better than his neighbors would be thrown out on his ear.

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  3. #28
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tidewater View Post
    I wouldn't say all of them were. Your G grandfather, a farmer, enlisted in a regular US Army unit, whose farm was (largely) spared due to his Union service (i.e. not driven to desperation) was one end of the spectrum. But the entire South in 1865 had little packets of men, many far from home,# relieved from the social restraints of the army,* lurking in the woods, living by less than honorable means. And when the fighting stopped, those packets of men did not just automatically go away. In fact, US Army officers on occupation duty just after the war was over complained about lawless gangs everywhere.
    To give you an idea of the scale, in the 1 March 1865 returns for the Army of Northern Virginia alone, there were 46,000 officers and men present and 116,000 men absent and present, or 70,000 men not with their units. And the situation was even worse in the Army of Tennessee. Those men were somewhere. Some (probably Virginians and Tarheels) made it home. Many were lurking.


    # Think of a soldier from Louisiana serving in Virginia who deserted. Where did he go? He might try to work his way back home, but there were conscription officer everywhere, so he might just set up for himself in a swamp, or a forest or a mountain and steal what he needed to stay alive.

    * Confederate units were mostly recruited from the same community, so if a soldier misbehaved, he would have to go home to the disgrace for the rest of his life.
    I totally agree with all that. That was not my point. Conflating these late gangs of 1865 with Unionists was what what was puzzling to me. After all, these deserters/criminals were overwhelmingly Confederate deserters...
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  4. #29
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tidewater View Post
    I would recommend J. Mills Thornton's Politics and Power in a Slave Society for the early Alabama history.
    Early Alabamians did not take kindly to being talked down to. Any politician that put on airs like he was better than his neighbors would be thrown out on his ear.
    I'll pick it up...
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  5. #30
    BamaNation Hall of Fame DzynKingRTR's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Where was all of this in my history books? This is the first I ever heard it. The things I learn on Tidefans nonsports are always a surprise.
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  6. #31
    BamaNation Hall of Fame 92tide's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by TIDE-HSV View Post
    I have a hard time regarding them in 1865 all as "ne'er do wells" or draft dodgers. Most were really deserters who knew they had families starving back home and dropped their arms to quit a war they didn't have a personal interest in to return and try to salvage their farms. Mostly people tended to ignore drifters they knew were deserters. Have you read "Cold Mountain"? It's an excellent, well researched account of the era and the predicament of these men...
    i enjoyed cold mountain and was thinking of that while reading this thread. fyi, tim o'brien made a cd roughly based on this book. some good music.

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  7. #32
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Tidewater's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by TIDE-HSV View Post
    I totally agree with all that. That was not my point. Conflating these late gangs of 1865 with Unionists was what what was puzzling to me.
    That is just the perspective of the "normal" Alabamians, the ones that sided with their state against the Union. Both Confederate deserters (more on this anon) and Alabama Union troops had declined to shoulder a musket in defense of the government in Montgomery, so from the perspective of Montgomery loyalists, they were both "not the right sort." (Now, I'd bet you G grandfather would have said he was fighting for Alabama, that remaining loyal to the Union was in Alabama's best interests).
    After all, these deserters/criminals were overwhelmingly Confederate deserters...
    Which was the more defining characteristic, Confederate deserters or Confederate deserters? The Confederacy adopted universal white male conscription in April 1862, so the fellows drafted after that date were, shall we say, not the most motivated Confederate soldiers. The ideologically motivated all joined up in 1861, so those left at home for the draft had already opted not to join until they had to. These latter-day patriots were also frequently the first to desert. Just because a guy got rolled up by the conscription officer did not mean he was a loyal Confederate. The fact that he went over the hill when he got a chance speaks more to his motivation than the fact that he was wearing gray when he did so.
    Obviously that's a broad brush, though.

  8. #33
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Tidewater's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by 92tide View Post
    i enjoyed cold mountain and was thinking of that while reading this thread. fyi, tim o'brien made a cd roughly based on this book. some good music.

    I own that CD and I really enjoy it. I "discovered" Dirk Powell while listening to the soundtrack of the film Ride with the Devil. I really enjoy Powell's fiddle and banjo.

  9. #34
    BamaNation Hall of Fame 92tide's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tidewater View Post
    I own that CD and I really enjoy it. I "discovered" Dirk Powell while listening to the soundtrack of the film Ride with the Devil. I really enjoy Powell's fiddle and banjo.
    he's really good and has played on several cd's with tim o'brien. i like the whole cd, but i think cluck ole hen is my favorite off of that one. we are going to see tim o'brien in the beginning of march at eddie's attic.
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  10. #35
    Senior Administrator TIDE-HSV's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tidewater View Post
    That is just the perspective of the "normal" Alabamians, the ones that sided with their state against the Union. Both Confederate deserters (more on this anon) and Alabama Union troops had declined to shoulder a musket in defense of the government in Montgomery, so from the perspective of Montgomery loyalists, they were both "not the right sort." (Now, I'd bet you G grandfather would have said he was fighting for Alabama, that remaining loyal to the Union was in Alabama's best interests).

    Which was the more defining characteristic, Confederate deserters or Confederate deserters? The Confederacy adopted universal white male conscription in April 1862, so the fellows drafted after that date were, shall we say, not the most motivated Confederate soldiers. The ideologically motivated all joined up in 1861, so those left at home for the draft had already opted not to join until they had to. These latter-day patriots were also frequently the first to desert. Just because a guy got rolled up by the conscription officer did not mean he was a loyal Confederate. The fact that he went over the hill when he got a chance speaks more to his motivation than the fact that he was wearing gray when he did so.
    Obviously that's a broad brush, though.
    Let's say that I take a kinder, gentler attitude towards impressed farmer/soldiers. I still think you are reaching to try and find a relationship between the attitude towards the north Alabama Unionists and the attitude towards the lawless post-war gangs. I just doubt that leap was made. For one thing, the gangs were South-wide...
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  11. #36
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Reading all this as a history guy, coming from the West Coast is very interesting. Our Civil War lessons in high school were more straight to the point in California, or, they connected the Civil War and its effects to the Mexican-American War.
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  12. #37
    BamaNation Hall of Fame Tidewater's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by TIDE-HSV View Post
    Let's say that I take a kinder, gentler attitude towards impressed farmer/soldiers. I still think you are reaching to try and find a relationship between the attitude towards the north Alabama Unionists and the attitude towards the lawless post-war gangs. I just doubt that leap was made. For one thing, the gangs were South-wide...
    I had to do some digging on Alabama's role in the war. Alabama had around 127,000 military age white men. Between 90,000* and 136,000# served in the Confederate army, and some 2,000-2,700 in the Union army (all willing volunteers, obviously). Some 10,000 Alabama black men served in the Union army as well, but given the coercive techniques of Union recruiters, how willing these men were is subject of debate.

    Desertion started almost immediately after conscription (April 1862). The Confederates conscripted all white men between 18 and 35 (eventually 17 and 50). According to historian Ella Lonn, of the approximately 103,400 enlisted men who deserted the Confederacy by war's end, although I think this number of a gross underestimate.
    The relationship between deserters and criminal gangs is illustrated by this excerpt from a book on Alabama.
    Quote Originally Posted by W. L. Andrews, Early History of S. E. Alabama
    The Confederacy was losing ground, her currency was depreciated, her supplies nearly exhausted, and her army out numbered four to one by a foe with almost unlimited resources. Pushed to the last ditch the Confederate Congress passed a measure carrying with it authority for the impressment of provisions, stock, and calling for nearly all classes hitherto exempt, including those who had put in substitutes. Many of these exempts went to the from under this drastic call, but some of them believed the war would soon be at and others were among a class who voted against secession in the outset. These latter classes went to the woods where they joined those who had evaded the conscript net of 1863, and a few others who had deserted their commands and come home. Up to the summer of 1864 Dale county had experienced little inconvenience and less injury at the hands of the enemy either domestic or foreign, but it was realized that trouble was being fomented. J. R. Breare, an Englishman by birth, and a lawyer by profession resigned his command at the front and came home, taking care to bring with him authority from the State department to organize a company to be know as the Home Guards. This organization had two objects, one was to force all who were liable to service to go to the front and the other, to protect the people in life and property against depredations either at the hands of the common enemy or of the dissatisfied element at home.
    The opposing elements were now organized and a little later on the clash came, filling the hearts of the people with consternation and staining the soil of our hitherto quiet section with blood.
    One wing of deserters had banded themselves together under 'speckled' John Ward, as he was known
    Conecuh was the only south Alabama county to oppose immediate unilateral secession in 1861.
    Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee Infantry described the reaction to the conscription act this way:
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Watkins
    Soldiers (in 1861) had enlisted for twelve months only, and had faithfully complied with their volunteer obligations; the terms for which they had enlisted had expired, and they naturally looked upon it that they had a right to go home. They had done their duty faithfully and well. They wanted to see their families; in fact, wanted to go home anyhow. War had become a reality; they were tired of it. A law had been passed by the Confederate States Congress called the conscript act. A soldier had no right to volunteer and to choose the branch of service he preferred. He was conscripted. From this time on till the end of the war, a soldier was simply a machine, a conscript. It was mighty rough on rebels. We cursed the war, we cursed Bragg, we cursed the Southern Confederacy. All our pride and valor had gone, and we were sick of war and the Southern Confederacy.
    Interestingly, despite his cursing, Watkins served until April of 1865.
    But the desertion problem started in earnest shortly after the passage of the conscription act.

    * Governor Parson's Inaugural Address 1865, Walter Fleming, Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama, p. 251

    # American Civil War Research Database which has compiled Alabama unit rosters.

  13. #38
    Senior Administrator TIDE-HSV's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tidewater View Post
    I had to do some digging on Alabama's role in the war. Alabama had around 127,000 military age white men. Between 90,000* and 136,000# served in the Confederate army, and some 2,000-2,700 in the Union army (all willing volunteers, obviously). Some 10,000 Alabama black men served in the Union army as well, but given the coercive techniques of Union recruiters, how willing these men were is subject of debate.

    Desertion started almost immediately after conscription (April 1862). The Confederates conscripted all white men between 18 and 35 (eventually 17 and 50). According to historian Ella Lonn, of the approximately 103,400 enlisted men who deserted the Confederacy by war's end, although I think this number of a gross underestimate.
    The relationship between deserters and criminal gangs is illustrated by this excerpt from a book on Alabama.

    Conecuh was the only south Alabama county to oppose immediate unilateral secession in 1861.
    Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee Infantry described the reaction to the conscription act this way:

    Interestingly, despite his cursing, Watkins served until April of 1865.
    But the desertion problem started in earnest shortly after the passage of the conscription act.

    * Governor Parson's Inaugural Address 1865, Walter Fleming, Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama, p. 251

    # American Civil War Research Database which has compiled Alabama unit rosters.
    I find that interesting, but anecdotal. I still don't believe there's enough empirical evidence to infer a general attitude that the lawless bands plaguing the South before martial law was imposed to meld deserters with the original opponents of the war. I'm certain there was some overlap, however...
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  14. #39
    BamaNation Hall of Fame GrayTide's Avatar
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    Re: The Proposed "State of Nickajack"...

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