Were there any Southerners who fought for Union during Civil War ?

Apr 2014
279
Istanbul Turkey
#1
Whenever I look at US Civil War history it appears like Confederacy was one solid block of South and Union was complately from North. Was it like tht or were there individuals/communities who fought for North/South vice versa despite their ancestral origins do not belong there ? Were there any white abolishment supporters in South for example or any Southerners who fought at Union army ?
 
Apr 2017
298
United Kingdom
#2
There are exceptions to every rule- so it is possible that Northerners fought in the Confederate Army and Southerners for the Union-given the fact that it was a Civil War, this seems highly likely! As we saw in the 1990 film "Glory" starring my namesake Denzel Washington, an entire regiment of escaped slaves fought for the Union!


Terry
 
Dec 2011
2,800
Late Cretaceous
#3
George Henry Thomas, born in Virginia, decided to remain in the Federal Army and reached the rank of Major-General;



wiki:
Thomas struggled with the decision but opted to remain with the United States. His Northern-born wife probably helped influence his decision. In response, his family turned his picture against the wall, destroyed his letters, and never spoke to him again. (During the economic hard times in the South after the war, Thomas sent some money to his sisters, who angrily refused to accept it, declaring they had no brother.)

Nevertheless, Thomas stayed in the Union Army with some degree of suspicion surrounding him............. On June 18, his former student and fellow Virginian, Confederate Col. J.E.B. Stuart, wrote to his wife, "Old George H. Thomas is in command of the cavalry of the enemy. I would like to hang, hang him as a traitor to his native state." Nevertheless, as the Civil War carried on, he won the affection of Union soldiers serving under him as a "soldier's soldier", affectionately referring to Thomas as "Pap Thomas".
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,061
Republika Srpska
#4
Whenever I look at US Civil War history it appears like Confederacy was one solid block of South and Union was complately from North. Was it like tht or were there individuals/communities who fought for North/South vice versa despite their ancestral origins do not belong there ? Were there any white abolishment supporters in South for example or any Southerners who fought at Union army ?
Yes, many actually did. Some Southern states even remained loyal to the Union, and even those states that did secede had some Unionist regions, for example western parts of Virginia that would eventually secede and form a new state of West Virginia, eastern Tennessee, plus much of the Upper South was reluctant to secede and only did so after Lincoln called for volunteers to end the rebellion.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,064
Dispargum
#5
The South was not a solid block of secessionists. Many Southerners remained loyal to the Union. There were even whole regions of the South where unionism ran high. Unionism ran highest in those parts of the South where there were few slaves, in particular in mountainous regions where plantations were not practical. The western part of Virginia managed to break away and become the independent state of West Virginia. Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee were also high in unionism, but because they were so deep "behind enemy lines" so to speak they were unable to follow West Virginia's example.


As the Union Armies invaded the South during the war they would encounter pockets of Union sympathizers. Recruiting agents would enlist men and form whole regiments of Southerners who were willing to fight for the North. When reading about the Civil War one encounters units with names like 4th Tennessee (Union) Infantry Regiment meaning that this regiment was raised in Tennessee but it was fighting on the Union side. About 10% of all Union soldiers were African-American. Almost all of these men were recruited in the South.


There were a few Northerners who fought for the South. The most famous was perhaps John C. Pemberton who commanded Confederate forces at Vicksburg. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania but had married a Southerner.
 

Baltis

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
3,995
Texas
#6
Yes, many actually did. Some Southern states even remained loyal to the Union, and even those states that did secede had some Unionist regions, for example western parts of Virginia that would eventually secede and form a new state of West Virginia, eastern Tennessee, plus much of the Upper South was reluctant to secede and only did so after Lincoln called for volunteers to end the rebellion.
I have an ancestor who fought in a Union Tennessee regiment. They were from the eastern TN region that you mention and this was not a move in opposition to his neighbors. All of the folks around there were Unionists.

Interestingly enough, I was doing a seminar yesterday on German immigration in Texas during its days as a Republic. At that time about 10,000 Germans were brought in, many of whom settled the Hill Country around New Braunfels and Fredericksburg west of Austin. They were anti-slavery people and when Texas joined the USA the new state mostly stopped encouraging them to come over. Anyway, even though there were a number who served for the south (one of my ancestors did and fought on the NM campaign, another served in the frontier forts.), most of the Germans were also considered Unionists. When the war ended a lot of southerners came to West Texas, many were quite bitter about losing the war. Here is a sample from Die Kettner Briefe (letters from a German out there at the time).

“This was the beginning from which the fanaticism between the native-born Americans and the immigrants grew to the highest degree. The end of the matter was that we got martial law, likewise the necessary number of soldiers, under whose jurisdiction the most horrible murders were committed. I myself was no longer certain of my life and for a long time kept myself hidden. This situation lasted a long half year in which I was often prepared to take off for Mexico. Only my family kept me back. During this time approximately 25 people were killed, some drowned and others captured and executed without any sort of trial, naturally all secretly in the night. In the morning the men would then be found hanged from the trees.”
 
Jul 2012
4,379
Here
#7
Whenever I look at US Civil War history it appears like Confederacy was one solid block of South and Union was complately from North. Was it like tht or were there individuals/communities who fought for North/South vice versa despite their ancestral origins do not belong there ? Were there any white abolishment supporters in South for example or any Southerners who fought at Union army ?
In large groupings it looks something like this...

100,000 white southerners from the Confederate States joined the Union army.

150,000 black southerners (mostly escaped slaves) joined the Union army.

About 2/3 of the men who fought from the the four border states (Del, Md, Kentucky, Missouri) fought for the Union, the other 1/3 fought for the Confederacy.

If the books you are reading imply that the North and South were unified, you are probably reading very old books. There are a lot of books on the divisions in the North and the South during the war written in the past 25 years. A good one to start with on the South is William Freehling's The South vs. the South from 2002.

While there was a lot of division in the North, few northerners fought for the Confederacy. The Northerner dissent, very generally, was "stop the war" rather than pro-Confederate independence.

One thing about Southern abolitionists is that many had left the South before the war because if they expressed anti-slavery views, they were denied jobs. Some certainly remained, but how you could track how many fought for the Union I don't know. White southern service in the Union army was more about preserving the Union than about abolitionism (as was white northern involvement).
 
Likes: Kadi
Oct 2015
673
Virginia
#8
"Dyers Compendium of the War of the Rebellion" shows the following enlistments in the US Army, Navy and Marines from Confederate States:

AL 2578
AK. 8289
FL. 1990
LA. 5224
MS. 545
NC. 3156
TN.31092
TX. 1965
WVA 32068
USCT 99337 ("colored" troops recruited in Southern states, 79638 were credited to Northern or border states)
US Volunteers 243 (so called "galvanized yankees"..ex Confederate soldiers)

From border states:

KY. 75760 of which 23703 were "colored"
MO.109111 of which 8344 were "colored"
MD 76638 of which 8718 were "colored"
DE. 12348 of which 945 were "colored"
 
Last edited:

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,392
#9
To add to all of the above...

40% of the officers from Virginia who were in the U.S. army prior to the secession crisis, remained in federal service throughout the war.

Besides George Thomas who was mentioned above, that also included Winfield Scott, David Farragut, and a cousin of Robert E. Lee, Samuel Phillips Lee.

When questioned about his loyalties during the secession crisis Samuel Phillips Lee reportedly quipped, "When I find the word Virginia in my commission I will join the Confederacy."
 
Last edited:

Fiver

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
3,639
#10
In large groupings it looks something like this...

100,000 white southerners from the Confederate States joined the Union army.

150,000 black southerners (mostly escaped slaves) joined the Union army.
Lincoln's Loyalists is a source for the number of white men from Confederate states who served in the Union Army. That's roughly 10% of the draft age men. Estimates are that from 1/4 to 1/3 of the white population of Confederate states were Unionists.

The 150,000 black men from Confederate states who served in the Union Army would be about 35-40% of the draft age black men. That must have really hurt the Confederate economy.

About 40% of US Army officers from Confederate States served in the Union Army. The most notable were probably Winfield Scott, George Thomas, and Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs. Here's a list of generals from Confederate states who served in the Union Army.

About 60% of US Navy officers from Confederate States served in the Union Navy. Admiral David Farragut was one of them. Another was Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, a cousin of Robert E Lee, who said "When I find the word Virginia in my commission I will join the Confederacy."

There were also men from Union states who served in the Confederate Army, but they were a much smaller percentage. Wesley Culp was the only man from Gettysburg who fought at Gettysburg. He was serving with the 2nd Virginia when he was killed on July 2, 1863. Here is a list of generals from Union states who served in the Confederate Army. The most notable were probably John Pemberton, the Confederate commander at Vicksburg, Josiah Gorgas, their brilliant Chief of Ordinance, and Samuel Cooper, the most senior officer in the Confederate Army.