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

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

Brian D. McKnight

Language: English

Pages: 402

ISBN: 0813133823

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.

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Tennessee Unionists had been Whigs; Johnson was and remained a Democrat, and, in state politics, he had been one of the most uncompromising partisans. While they applauded his stand during the secession crisis, state Unionists knew that blustering and grandstanding characterized the governor’s politics more than constructive action or bipartisan cooperation. Prior to the war, Lincoln had indicated that he would rely on Senator Johnson’s recommendations when making appointments to federal offices

S. Brown reported to Johnson: “All this was the work of a few, and has the sympathy of no respectable class anywhere. It amounts to nothing.” Across West Tennessee, other Unionists gathered to discuss remedies for the crisis sparked by South Carolina’s “demented folly.” Within a week of the Memphis Minute Men’s demonstration, a group of Memphis Unionists, many of whom were reportedly among the city’s most respected and wealthy citizens, met to form a Unionist society to counteract the fiery

and whoever would understand Unionism in East Tennessee must come to know that region’s most outspoken Unionist, the minister turned journalist whom both friends and enemies called “the Parson.” The name William Brownlow is rarely recognized today, but in 1862 its bearer was a celebrity across the warweary North. As the editor of the Knoxville Whig, the pugnacious parson had waged war against the cause of secession until Tennessee seceded in June 1861, at which point he aimed his acid pen at the

sectional agenda. If justice was the true end of government, as Madison had argued in the Federalist essays, then a Republican-dominated federal government was, by definition, illegitimate. “Can we hope for justice from Abolitionism and its rulers?” a prominent East Tennessee secessionist asked. The answer, this speaker avowed, was obvious. “There is no hope but under the banner and shield of our own State, co-operating with the South.”28 Not so, Brownlow countered. “What the people of the

society—so much so that, in the months that followed the close of the war, numerous Kentucky counties petitioned the state government to call out the militia. In Harlan County, Kentucky, one citizen wrote: “Gurillas [sic] has nearly laid waste to the county by pillaging, plundering, and robbing and . . . are all well armed and men of the worst character and the Civil Authorities cannot apprehend them.” Even John Hunt Morgan, who had enjoyed widespread celebrity and enduring respect for much of

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