Lincolnites and Rebels: A Divided Town in the American Civil War

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At the start of the Civil War, Knoxville, Tennessee, with a population of just over 4,000, was considered a prosperous metropolis little reliant on slavery. Although the surrounding countryside was predominantly Unionist in sympathy, Knoxville itself was split down the middle, with Union and Confederate supporters even holding simultaneous political rallies at opposite ends of the town's main street. Following Tennessee's secession, Knoxville soon became famous (or infamous) as a stronghold of stalwart Unionism, thanks to the efforts of a small cadre who persisted in openly denouncing the Confederacy. Throughout the course of the Civil War, Knoxville endured military occupation for all but three days, hosting Confederate troops during the first half of the conflict and Union forces throughout the remainder, with the transition punctuated by an extended siege and bloody battle during which nearly forty thousand soldiers fought over the town.

In Lincolnites and Rebels, Robert Tracy McKenzie tells the story of Civil War Knoxville-a perpetually occupied, bitterly divided Southern town where neighbor fought against neighbor. Mining a treasure-trove of manuscript collections and civil and military records, McKenzie reveals the complex ways in which allegiance altered the daily routine of a town gripped in a civil war within the Civil War and explores the agonizing personal decisions that war made inescapable. Following the course of events leading up to the war, occupation by Confederate and then Union soldiers, and the troubled peace that followed the war, Lincolnites and Rebels details in microcosm the conflict and paints a complex portrait of a border state, neither wholly North nor South.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lincolnites and Rebels is based on a vast array of original source material, and it is well organized and well written. Knoxville's Civil War story is full of economic and sociopolitical twists and turns and interesting, opinioned characters. McKenzie does an outstanding job of bringing all facets of this narrative together."—Ben Wynne, The North Carolina Historical Review

"Robert Tracy McKenzie's excellent study of wartime Knoxville reinforces that recent scholarship with exhaustive research and interpretive verve.... Lincolnites and Rebels deserves to find an audience among all scholars of the war, not just those who look to the mountains."—Kenneth W. Noe, Civil War History

"This thoughtful work unquestionably reaches important new conclusions."—John Cimprich, American Historical Review

"McKenzie vividly portrays Knoxville as a microcosm of the Civil War as a brothers' war, dividing families, friends, and neighbors.... An excellent contribution to the socio-political understanding of border state communities in the Civil War. From the pages of Licolnites and Rebels emerges a clear image of a complex issue underlying the heart of the Civil War. The division of a nation would not be, indeed could not be, accomplished with surgical precision."—Sharon A. Roger Hepburn, Reviews in American History

"An unusually well written, solid, scholarly study, filled with colorful vignettes.... Highly recommended."—CHOICE

"Knoxville, Tennessee, in the 1860s was a deeply divided town in a deeply divided region, a place where the dictates of conscience collided repeatedly with the constraints of power. Tracy McKenzie has brilliantly illuminated the complex issues of loyalty and dissent in the Civil War South. This book is essential reading for anyone who seeks a richer understanding not only of the Civil War but also of the moral crisis faced by people of any time or place who find themselves living under enemy rule."—Stephen V. Ash, University of Tennessee

"An important addition to our understanding of the Civil War in the Appalachian South.... It appears unlikely to this reviewer that this study will be superseded."—Gordon McKinney, Civil War Book Review

"Tracy McKenzie's compelling story of neighbor against neighbor in Knoxville, Tennessee, during the Civil War goes right to the heart of questions about allegiance. In this strategic southern city—a commercial center in a major food producing region, a railroad center with connections to both the eastern and western theaters of war—the white residents were split almost 50/50 between the Union and the Confederacy. A vivid portrait of human anguish and conflict, a civil war inside a civil war."—Vernon Burton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"No other community in the Confederate South was perceived to be as much of a Unionist stronghold as was Knoxville, Tennessee. Yet it defies such easy categorization, as Tracy McKenzie demonstrates in this richly detailed portrait of an Appalachian populace that remained sharply divided throughout the Civil War and beyond. He not only provides an insightful case study of antebellum and wartime loyalties and the range of forces that shaped them; he also tells a very human story of people at war, and infuses it with an often palpable sense of drama and even suspense."—John C. Inscoe, University of Georgia

"This author's compelling portrait of Knoxville, Tennessee, during the Civil War is the very best sort of community study.... McKenzie's nuanced monograph deserves wide attention from historians seeking to understand the meaning of loyalty in wartime and civilians' experience of the Cival War."—Alison Clark Efford, The Historian

"Illuminating and deeply researched...An excellent work of complexity and nuance." —The Tennessee Historical Quarterly

"A well-written book [that] should be read by everyone trying to understand the values held by communities and individuals that drove them to adopt a pro-Union or pro-Confederate belief and how those values changed as the war progressed."-Charles H. Bogart, Post Library

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195182941
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/9/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,338,235
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Tracy McKenzie is Associate Professor of History at Wheaton College. He is the author of One South or Many? Plantation Belt and Upcountry in Civil War-Era Tennessee, which received awards from the American Historical Association's Pacific Coast Branch and the Agricultural History Society.

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Table of Contents

1. The Metropolis of East Tennessee
2. Contemplating Calamity
3. A Town Dividing
4. The "Reign of Terror" Unfolds
5. "Prudent Silence" and "Strict Neutrality"
6. Liberation, Occupation, and Twenty Minutes of Carnage
7. A New Set of Strains
8. Retribution and Reconciliation

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