Book review

Appalachian Ohio and the Civil War 1862-1863

by Susan G Hall (pp 258, Jefferson, NC and London:McFarland).

Review by: Allan Paterson Milne

 

The civil war soldier did not exist in a vacuum. He had normally been a civilian before the war and, if he lived, would normally have reverted to being a civilian after it. Where he came from shaped him both as a man and soldier.

 

The chief, though not the only merit, of Susan Hall's study, is the way she skillfully intertwines the story of the men who marched off to war from Appalachian Ohio with the turbulent political history of the communities that sent them. Focusing mainly on Harrison County and its county seat, Cadiz, she demonstrates how divided these communities were.


Settled primarily by Southerners, this was an area where Vallandigham and the "Peace Democrats" could expect to, and did, pick up support. Yet the area's "Free Presbyterians" were fervently anti-slavery, as was the local congressman, John Bingham, a doughty foe of Copperheadism. Harrison County's voting record for 1860 says it all: Lincoln got 60 percent of the vote, but an incredible, 18 percent went to the "Southern Rights" candidate.

 

There were enough loyal "War Democrats" to carry the day for the Union war effort. It was one thing to grumble at the Lincoln Administration and its deplorable partiality for Blacks: quite another to stab "our boys in blue" in the back as they wrestled with Rebeldom down South.

July of 1863 would witness Morgan's raid. At the last moment the raiders swerved away from Cadiz to the mingled relief and self-satisfaction of the local militia, proud of what they imagined was their deterrent effect. If Morgan ever hoped that his raid might fan the flames of Copperheadism, its actual effect was quite different.

The "Peace Democracy" was to have one last brief glimmer of victory in the summer and fall of 1864, but the author feels that by mid-1863 they had effectively lost the battle. Whatever the later ups and downs, Appalachian Ohio was by then firmly behind the men it had sent off to war.

While I commend this as a book, I feel however that at 37.95 it is on the pricey side. Publishers face a real dilemma here. Local studies of the war are an important and expanding field, and McFarland have done Civil War studies a service in publishing works of this sort.