Days Gone By - stories from the past

There were many people against the Civil War in Alabama including these Unionists in Montgomery, Alabama in 1861 [films]

Thirty Unionists in Montgomery

In the small city of Montgomery, Alabama of some ten thousand people, around 1861,  there were approximately thirty who were Unionists during the Civil War. They maintained loyalties under adverse circumstances and ardently opposed the Confederate States of America.


Montgomery was selected as the capital of the Confederacy

Montgomery had been the capital of Alabama since 1846. Located near the headwaters of the Alabama River, the state capital was also a center of cotton trade in the Black Belt. One of every two residents was a slave.

Montgomery’s central location in the lower South had much to do with its selection as the capital of the Confederate States of America.

Unionists who remained became spies and guides

After the Union Army invaded Alabama in early 1862, Unionists had more opportunities to flee behind Union lines for safety and the possibility of employment as soldiers, spies, or laborers. Those who remained at home, both within Union-occupied territory and behind Confederate lines, also actively assisted Union forces as spies and guides. In some cases, they collaborated with local African Americans (most often their own slaves) to aid and abet the Union Army or pro-Union men in their neighborhoods.

Ostracized and ridiculed by neighbors

Most of the men and women who supported the Union after Alabama’s secession faced great difficulties. Many were ostracized and ridiculed by neighbors, called before community vigilance committees for questioning and intimidation, or actually harmed for endorsing the Union. Such treatment was most commonly meted out to those who publicly asserted their views; those who kept quiet and did not interfere with volunteering were often left alone during the first year of the war.

Subject to arrest after conscription

After Confederate conscription began in April 1862, however, community tolerance of Unionists waned. Individuals who resisted the draft, for whatever reason, were subject to arrest and imprisonment. Family members who supported resisters were frequently threatened with violence or exile by conscript cavalry who hoped to pressure men to come in from the woods or mountains and surrender. In addition, it was not at all uncommon for the families of Unionists to be targeted for punitive foraging or arson by Confederate forces or local conscript cavalry.

A few years ago, a play, The Flag Maker of Market Street,  written by Elizabeth Gregory Wilder, presented the play at the Alabama Shakespeare Theatre in Montgomery. It was based on the Unionists who met secretly in Montgomery.

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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20 comments

  1. Marian Crenshaw Austin

    Yes, I am a descendant of one!

  2. I’m surprised that there were not more since it is my understanding that the vote for succession was relatively close. Nice story.

  3. Robert E. Mims

    blue bellies amongst us.

  4. You have left out the Free State of Winston! When Alabama seceded from the Union, Winston County seceded from Alabama! The hardy, small farmers of the Appalachian foothills didn’t own slaves and saw no reason to be pawns in what they called “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

    1. This was a story only about Montgomery. There were many people in other counties including Winston against secession. I wrote about Winston County in two stories. See links below.

      http://alabamapioneers.com/free-state-winston-county-civil-war-became-bastion-republican-party/#sthash.nPgjko4n.dpbs

      http://alabamapioneers.com/free-state-winston/#sthash.vqRIm9Pc.dpbs

  5. Jackie Brent Norton

    These stories are never told

  6. Greg Creech

    The secessionists didn’t “want” a war as well but rather a peaceful separation and independence from a government they saw as repressive and tyrannical….as per the Founding Fathers; as per the Declaration of Independence; as per the Constitution. It was Lincoln and the Radical Republicans who wanted war. Every peace delegation sent by the Confederate States to Washington to negotiate a peaceful separation was turned away without so much as recognition they had even come. Those unionists who stayed behind and acted on behalf of the Union were the equivalent of Tories during the American Revolution….most Americans today have little problem accepting how Tories were treated by the “secessionist” colonists.

    1. Jon Byrd

      Well, that’s one way to un-read history.

    2. Greg Creech

      I’ve read more history books than you’ll ever see not to mention primary documents, newspapers, dairies, and publications of the period. Have studied the period extensively for over 30 years.

    3. Jeremy Britt

      Modern day in a nutshell. It’s coming to a head, as they all knew it would

    4. People that remained loyal to Britain in the Rev War were treated horribly afterward. There were many split families in the Carolinas and Georgia. The British brought the Rev War to the South because they felt there would be more people loyal to Great Britain. I have always wondered if a lot of North Alabama folks were resistant to the idea of the War of Northern Aggression because they had heard stories from their grandparents of how terrible it was. The “British” at King’s Mountain were Americans other than their commander. If your Alabama ancestors were in the Carolinas or Georgia for the Rev War, don’t shake your family tree too hard. That war went on for seven years and folks may have had to change sides to survive. I have always heard that for the Rev War, about 1/3 were Loyalists, 1/3 Patriots and 1/3 did not care.

  7. Elizabeth Mudd-Connelly

    I had Alabama relatives on both sides….

  8. BryanandLawanda Hall

    Read tories of the hills. Tells a lot about this

    1. Marie Davis

      My great uncle wanted “Tories of the Hills” to be made into a movie. I finally read it last week after getting it through inter-library loan. It makes you wonder how our ancestors survived such a dark and bloody time.

  9. Michael Gilbreath

    There were a good many from North Alabama that fought with the Union. There was a Union calvary unit from Cullman & Huntsville area. Two brothers from my family by marriage were Union officers. One was murdered after war ended because he fought for the Union. His brother caught up with his brothers killers in Texas & took revenge. My grandmother wrote a book about it entitled Gone to Texas. Dont think she ever published it.

  10. Kearney Hall

    Little known facts about Alabama folks against secession and who stayed loyal to the Union.

  11. Tom Wofford

    The vote for succession was close, 54-46 of the elected delegates. Half my family at the time were unionists.

  12. My great grandfather was one who voted against succession.

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