War’s Desolating Scourge: The Union’s Occupation of North Alabama
An Iowan who now teaches at Des Moines Community College, Mr. Danielson did graduate work at the University of Alabama and, in this fast-paced volume, demonstrates a Northern sensibility to original Southern source material that helps readers understand how the Civil War shaped attitudes and politics for over a century.
Northern Alabama was hard for the Confederate government to defend and dangerous for the U.S. military to occupy. The conflict between Southern true believers on the home front, on the one hand, and northern troops sent to subdue the rebellion and save the Union, on the other hand, spiraled downward once the region fell into northern hands. Southern families, planters and communities suffered increasing privation at the hands of Union troops, themselves maddened by the constant sniping and guerrilla attacks and looking for ways to break Southern resistance.
If I had one criticism, it is that Mr. Danielson says nothing about the one north Alabama county where loyalty to the Union and antipathy to the slave power led residents to succeed from the succession. The Free State of Winston is an interesting side story and even a few pages on it would have added to this interesting book.