Southern Unionists in a Fractured Confederacy

A Historiography


  • David Davenport


There is little monographic or article literature devoted exclusively to Southern Unionists in the Civil War. Unionists are usually relegated to a paragraph or footnote in most general studies. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate that during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we re-examine the literature regarding Southern Unionists. Southern Unionist literature can be grouped into three eras. First, the era from 1865 to the 1890s was one that acknowledged Southern Unionists and their contributions to the Union war effort and Confederate defeat. Second, the era immediately following the war and stretching into the early twentieth century called the “Lost Cause” era. The final period runs from the Great Depression to the present, in which more literature is written regarding Southern Unionists and their wartime contributions. These works have evolved into more detailed studies that focus on the cultural, social, and other aspects that distinguish the Southern Unionists from their pro-Confederate counterparts in the South. Studying the historiography of Southern Unionists allows students, teachers and those with interest in the Civil War to see the biases that have existed in the literature over the years. In addition, it identifies other areas that need further research on the topic.