We often get images, based on stereotypes, stuck in our heads about history. The antebellum and Civil War periods are no exceptions. We think the South was nothing but large plantations with thousands of slaves. We also might think that every Southerner tightly embraced secession and the war and retained that embrace until surrender in 1865.
These images are two-dimensional cartoons, with more or less an element of truth. The reality was considerably different. Most Southerners were small farmers, not big plantation owners, who did have an outsized presence in issues of the days. Likely most white Southerners did support secession, but that support began to wane as early as 1862. Fewer than half of white Southerners were slaveowners. And the state of Mississippi is a good example.
In The Limits of Loyalty: Ordinary People in Civil War in Mississippi, Jarret Ruminski takes a deep look at what happened in the state over the period 1861-1865. The time in which people’s nationalist sentiments and actions were most closely tied to the Confederacy was, unsurprisingly, early on. By 1862, as parts of the state began to experience invasion and destruction (and Mississippi experienced considerable amounts of both over the course of the war), sentiment shifted. Other loyalties, like to community and family, began to take precedence over feelings about the Confederacy and even the war. For many, and especially for women left at home with children and small farms and businesses, family survival became the overriding issue.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Dancing Priest.