Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War Hardcover – August 1, 2008
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This fast-paced book will be a revelation even to professional historians. Pulling together the latest scholarship with his own research, Williams (A People's History of the Civil War), a professor of history at Valdosta State University, puts an end to any lingering claim that the Confederacy was united in favor of secession during the Civil War. His astonishing story details the deep, often murderous divisions in Southern society. Southerners took up arms against each other, engaged in massacres, guerrilla warfare, vigilante justice and lynchings, and deserted in droves from the Confederate army (300,000 men joined the Union forces). Unionist politicians never stopped battling secessionism. Some counties and regions even seceded from the secessionists. Poor whites resented the large slave owners, who had engineered the war but were exempt from the draft. Not surprisingly, slaves fought slaveholders for their freedom and aided the Union cause. So did women and Indians. Williams's long overdue work makes indelibly clear that Southerners themselves played a major role in doing in the secessionist South. With this book, the history of the Civil War will never be the same again. Illus. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Williams marshals abundant evidence to demonstrate that the Confederacy also lost an internal civil war during 1861–65. Slaveholding planters had pushed secession against the wishes of the nonslaveholding majority of white Southerners, who were profoundly skeptical of slavery. Most Southerners looked on the conflict with the North as “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight,” especially because owners of 20 or more slaves and all planters and public officials were exempt from military service. The planters’ continued raising of cotton and tobacco rather than food for the army; a military draft from 1862 on; skyrocketing taxes; the confiscation of nonplanters’ goods for the army—all these and more reinforced the class-based perception of the war. From the outset, desertion from the army was constant, and because deserters were savagely hunted, a new underground railroad arose, bringing deserters north, often to join the ranks of the half-million Union soldiers from the South. The Confederacy lost, it seems, because it was precisely the kind of house divided against itself that Lincoln famously said could not stand. This firm repudiation of the myth of the solid Confederate South is absolutely essential Civil War reading. --Ray Olson
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The South’s inner civil War
By David Williams
A Review by hbell
I often wondered how I would have reacted living in Nashville during the U.S. Civil war. After reading Bitterly Divided I thought that I would have found many likeminded souls.
Mr. Williams makes the fine point that first distinction is one of class. The big difference is the division between the Slave owning class and the non-slave owning class. The slave owning elite also owned all the fertile land and they wanted to maximize their profits by growing the money crops of cotton and tobacco and they needed thousands of slaves to work these crops. This elite class controlled the political structure that wanted to secede from the Union and form the Confederate States of America where slavery could flourish.
The non-slave owning class could see no purpose in fighting this war, but they were called upon to furnish the soldiers. They were promised by the elites that the soldiers and their families would be taken care of and fed by the Confederates. From the very beginning these promises turned into lies.
The cash crops of cotton and tobacco occupied all the fertile land and sufficient land to grow food was not available.
The planter class exempted themselves from serving in the military, which caused resentment and hatred among the fighting soldiers, who called it a rich man’s war and the poor man’s fight. Desertions from the Confederate Army started practically from the beginning of the war especially after they instituted conscription.
Southern women played a brave and important role in weakening the Army of the South. They hid and protected the deserters and draft-dodgers from the Confederacy. Since there were food shortages caused by the planter’s refusal to grow food, the southern women organized raids on the food warehouses and distributed it among the hungry.
The slaves and ex-slaves worked with Confederate deserters and union sympathizers. And they joined the union armies. Aside from these activities the slaves also sabotaged and spied on the confederate movements.
When Southerners talk about the heritage of the confederate flag, they should remember that most non-slave owning workers were opposed to the war. And that the Union Army was made up of 25% Southerners.
The cover of the book depicts a generic Civil War soldier holding a U.S. flag and a Confederate flag in Double Springs Alabama. The statue represents the soldiers from the area who volunteered to fight in the war: 239 for the Union and 112 for the Confederacy.
A worthwhile read,
But generally the South is portrayed as "the solid South". Grant's & Sherman's view after the battle of Shiloh (see, e.g., Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant - Complete Collection (Illustrated and Annotated)) was that the South was solid behind the Confederacy. The war wasn't just a war of armies, but also a war against the Southern people. Both armies and people (as-a-whole) had to be defeated, and this meant the Southern people had to be economically destroyed. Their views led, then, to what is often called "total war". Their views, now, seem, to my somewhat-more-than-casual reading, to remain the dominant view of historians.
[Though Grant, also in his "Memoirs", appears to have known, at least to some extent, that this unity was top-down enforced: "I always admired the South, as bad as I thought their cause, for the boldness with which they silenced all opposition and all croaking, by press or by individuals, within their control. War at all times, whether a civil war between sections of a common country or between nations, ought to be avoided, if possible with honor. But, once entered into, it is too much for human nature to tolerate an enemy within their ranks to give aid and comfort to the armies of the opposing section or nation." A bit chilling that Grant may have "admired" the suppression documented in this book.]
Williams pokes shockingly suggestive holes into this thesis. Using a big and various mound of sources -- mostly annecdotal, mostly fascinating, and often horrifying -- he suggests a level of Southern war resistance at least comparable to the North's. And in its violent suppression by those loyal to the Confederacy, it seems much more deadly.
Both Lincoln and Jefferson Davis suspended habeas corpus, meaning that anyone could be jailed indefinitely without specific charges or evidence presented. Both North and South imprisoned, even shot or hung deserters and spies. I don't know about Davis, but Lincoln was well-known for desperately searching for reasons to pardon, this sometimes to the despair of his cabinet and his generals. (See, e.g., Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.) During the war, the North even conducted a hideous and highly questionable mass hanging -- the largest in US history -- of Native Americans (reduced in number by Lincoln's ever-ready pardons).
But I've read nothing in the North comparable to the breadth of the South's murderous vigilantism, except in Kansas and Missouri, where it was at least somewhat shared by North and South alike. Williams documents Southern shootings and hangings without due process of law from the war's start. He also documents active Southern resistance to the Confederacy that includes targeted and perhaps wanton destruction of property that seriously hindered the Confederate war effort.
Yes, this information is largely annecdotal. (Though some of the voting/election returns are more Confederacy-wide, but harder to interpret as war resistance vs war weariness or war-resistance vs war un-willingness.) But there's so much material, and he takes it, here & there, from all over the Confederacy. Obviously, there needs to be systematic gathering, likely first county-by-county, then state-by-state, such as it's even possible. And this would almost certainly refine and, perhaps, qualify some of his very definite statements.
(Here is the reason I give the book 4 stars. It's 5 stars for Williams's impressive research and its originality and importance. It's 4 stars only because I suspect some of his statements are unjustifiably broad and overly definite.)
Equally fascinating is Williams's reports about who did the Southern resisting, who did the Southern vigilantism. In some cases, he can carefully show that those doing the war resisting were much poorer than those who did the vigilantism. Both North & South used the phrase, "Rich man's war; poor man's fight." But I've never read about, say, Pennsylvanian or Illinoisian/Iowan vigilanti executions & lynchings. And Southern vigilanti executions and lynchings, while they seem to increase as the war went worse for them, were at least around since the war's start.
This shockingly suggests there could be some real truth in Williams's subtitle: The South's Inner Civil War. At least politically, the North had its own inner Civil War. And civil wars, both past & current, are often ruthless & bloody. But based on Williams and what I've read about the Civil War as-a-whole, the South's inner civil even excluding what was done to captured Union Black soldiers and escaped or resisting slaves (and we should never exclude or in any way diminish that), the South's inner civil war seems a lot more ruthless and bloody.
(To give both sides, when it became clear that the Southern armies often killed surrendering Black Union soldiers, at least some Black Union soliders returned the "compliment" with surrendering Confederate soldiers. I've not read studies calculating how widespread or numerous either practice was. Unsurprisingly, records of this activity were rarely kept.)
So with my caution, I would highly recommend this book to those wanting a broader understanding about the Southern people during the Civil War.
In a way, it was slow reading as the author was sparse in editorializing the historical data; letting the bare, hard facts speak for themselves.
Made me slow down and read more closely the very detailed accounts.
What David Williams unearth is probably far from the last word of Southern dissenters.
Appreciate his slogging through the swamp of Southern suppressed history.
Gives pause to consider what it means to be a minority dissenter; though, as Williams points, in selective situations the dissenters were the majority, particularly underscored in his cover story.
Have recommended it in class and persons have ordered.