Brian A. Geil
Social Factors of The Civil War
This book follows differing social structures within The Confederate States of America and how those clashing cultures led to multiple changes of strategy in the mountain regions of the Confederacy. All of these combined factors led to multiple tragic events within the Confederacy. The main social groups that are discussed in the book are Rural and Urban Confederates, Confederate Mountaineers, and Unionist. It is important to understand each of the different social groups before a full social analysis can be conducted. Once the social aspect of the mountain regions is understood, the specific strategies used by both the Union and the Confederacy can be discussed. Mountaineers
Mountaineers live a very specific lifestyle; a lifestyle very separate and removed from the rest of the country, regardless of whether they fell into the North or the South. People of the mountains weren’t mountaineers simply because they lived in the mountains. They were mountaineers because they were born there, their parents were born there, and their ancestors were born there. They spent everyday in the land that they lived on; they gave all they had to the land and in return the land gave all it had to them. One woman was observed to have “put [her] child down on the ground, and . . . leaned over and spoke . . . to her child: ‘This is your land and it’s time you started getting to know it.’” At a time with limited technology, mountaineers were very secluded in the mountains. They were very loyal to each other and were very slow to changed due to the seclusion. However it was simply that they were slow to change, it was more specifically that they were resistant to change and opposed it fiercely. It was very rare for them to own slaves. Include this with the very unique culture of the mountains and the result is a group of southerners that, as a group, do not readily identify with the Confederate cause. Rural and Urban Confederates
Rural and Urban Confederates did not suffer the same seclusion and therefore did not share lack of conformity that Mountaineer Confederates faced. Whether in an urban environment or rural environment, most Southerners were sympathetic to the Confederate cause. The rich had the most financial variance at risk because of the war; union with the North and the loss of slavery could be devastating to them financially. And once the North announced that slavery would abolished, the poor did too. If the south lost, the rich would lose their free source of labor. The loss would also mean that the poor no longer had a social class beneath them. The poor would be grouped in with blacks as the bottom of the social totem pole. That was something that was worth fighting for to them. Social Analysis
mountaineers and rural/urban Confederates. The mountaineer way of life would at times be seen as very backwards from the way that the rest of the south lived their lives. This caused those living in urban and rural areas to look down upon mountaineers, and caused mountaineers to have minimal desire to interact with those outside of the mountains. When the Civil War started, all Southerners were called upon to join the fight against the north. Most men throughout the south left their wives at home alone with their children. In other parts of the south this was not an issue. There was enough help from slaves that the fields, crops, and factories could still be worked without the men present. But with the lack of slavery in the mountains, there were only a few men left at home to tend the mines, fields, or factories causing the mountain economy to suffer greatly. At the start of the Civil War, the Confederate Army did not have an issue getting mountaineers to join their ranks; the issue was getting them to stay. Mountaineers deserting the Confederate Army could be linked to three major things: 1) Lack of comradery between the...