The Civil War in Appalachia

Collected Essays

  • Author(s): Noe, Kenneth W., and Shannon H. Wilson, eds.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 0000-00-00
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $29.95 | Buy Now

During the Battle of Perryville, fought in Kentucky in October 1862, participants experienced an unusual phenomenon known as an “acoustic shadow”: this peculiar combination of wind and terrain muffled the sounds of the fighting in such a manner that nearby soldiers were unaware that the battle was even taking place. As the editors of this pioneering collection of essays observe, a figurative acoustic shadow has long fallen on the study of the Civil War in Appalachia. Regional stereotypes, cursory generalizations, and a neglect of geographic context have too often replaced detailed analysis and innovative interpretation.

Recent historiography has begun to present a fuller view of the war as it unfolded in the mountain counties of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The goals of this volume, the editors state, are “to provide a useful introduction to the social history of Appalachia’s Civil War, illustrating both the strengths and weaknesses of current historiography; to sum up where we have been and suggest where we need to go; and to point out the need to integrate Appalachian scholarship with studies of the Civil War and vice versa.” Among the topics covered are the experiences of blacks in Appalachia, the war as it affected women, the breakdown of community, changing gender roles, disaffection and desertion, guerrilla warfare, perceptions of mountain life, and the early stirrings of industrialization. These essays demonstrate the rich variety of Appalachian sentiments and attitudes toward the war, dismantling familiar myths such as the view of Appalachia as a “unionist monolith.”

Following the conflict from the secession crisis to the postwar period, these essays, taken together, provide what the editors call “the closest thing historians have to a comprehensive history of the Southern Mountains at war.”

The Editors: Kenneth W. Noe is an associate professor of history at the State University of West Georgia. The author of Southwest Virginia’s Railroad: Modernization and the Secession Crisis, he also edited A Southern Boy in Blue: The Memoir of Marcus Woodcock in the University of Tennessee Press’s Voices of the Civil War series. Shannon H. Wilson is an assistant professor of library science and the archivist at Berea College in Kentucky. He is the author of numerous book reviews and articles on turn-of-the-century Appalachia and the South.

The Contributors: Martin Crawford, Jan Furman, W. Todd Groce, John C. Inscoe, Ralph Mann, Gordon B. McKinney, Robert Tracy McKenzie, Kenneth W. Noe, Jonathan D. Sarris, Peter Wallenstein, Shannon H. Wilson