Chapter

A Victory Spoiled: West Tennessee Unionists during Reconstruction

Derek W. Frisby

in The Great Task Remaining Before Us

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780823232024
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240494 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823232024.003.0002

Series: Reconstructing America

A Victory Spoiled: West Tennessee             Unionists during Reconstruction

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The Civil War was easily the most violent war in U.S. history, and this chapter examines the quasi-organized violence in West Tennessee after Lee's surrender. When former Confederates attacked Unionists and freedpeople, the Republican state government there gave freedmen the franchise and established a state guard to corral their belligerent enemies. The state guard eventually imposed martial law on at least thirty counties and faced down the newly organized Ku Klux Klan. The fact that the Klan operated on a local stage, independent of a government, has tended to obscure both the political nature of the violence and its continuity with the four-year contest between the Union and the Confederacy. One West Tennessee Unionist put it plainly when he wrote that claims of Confederate defeat represented “the most gigantic falsehood of the age”.

Keywords: Civil War; postwar violence; West Tennessee; Ku Klux Clan; Confederates; freedman; martial law

Chapter.  8801 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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