The Civil War in Southern Appalachian Methodism
Cloth Edition, $42.00s
Cloth ISBN: 1-62190-001-0
Status: In Print
Publication Date: 10/15/2013
Description"This is a first-rate study of a much neglected topic in both Appalachian and Civil War history—the role of organized religion in the sectional conflict and war itself. I daresay it will be an equally significant contribution to the history of American Methodism as well. Dunn’s achievement impresses at every level—it is deeply researched, well written, and full of fresh facts and insights that should make us consider both the region and the war with new eyes."
— John C. Inscoe, author of Race, War, and Remembrance in the Appalachian South
"The primary research is outstanding. The Methodists kept voluminous records of the frequent local and regional gatherings. Many of these reports have survived, and the author has read them all. This book will be of interest to Civil War historians, scholars of the Methodist Church and American religious history, and students of Appalachian Studies." —Gordon McKinney, author of Henry W. Blair’s Campaign to Reform America: From the Civil War to the U.S. Senate
The Civil War in Southern Appalachian Methodism addresses a much-neglected topic in both Appalachian and Civil War history—the role of organized religion in the sectional strife and the war itself. Meticulously researched, well written, and full of fresh facts, this new book brings an original perspective to the study of the conflict and the region.
In many important respects, the actual Civil War that began in 1861 unveiled an internal civil war within the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South—comprising churches in southwestern Virginia, eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and a small portion of northern Georgia—that had been waged surreptitiously for the previous five decades. This work examines the split within the Methodist Church that occurred with mounting tensions over the slavery question and the rise of the Confederacy. Specifically, it looks at how the church was changing from its early roots as a reform movement grounded in a strong local pastoral ministry to a church with a more intellectual, professionalized clergy that often identified with Southern secessionists.
The author has mined an exhaustive trove of primary sources, especially the extensive, yet often-overlooked minutes from frequent local and regional Methodist gatherings. He has also explored East Tennessee newspapers and other published works on the topic. The author’s deep research into obscure church records and other resources results not only in a surprising interpretation of the division within the Methodist Church but also new insights into the roles of African Americans, women, and especially lay people and local clergy in the decades prior to the war and through its aftermath. In addition, Dunn presents important information about what the inner Civil War was like in East Tennessee, an area deeply divided between Union and Confederate sympathizers.
Students and scholars of religious history, southern history, and Appalachian studies will be enlightened by this volume and its bold new way of looking at the history of the Methodist Church and this part of the nation.
Durwood Dunn is professor and chairman of the Department of History at Tennessee Wesleyan College, in Athens, Tennessee. He is the author of Cades Cove: The Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community, 1818-1937 and An Abolitionist in the Appalachian South: Ezekiel Birdseye on Slavery, Capitalism, and Separate Statehood in East Tennessee, 1841-1846.