Divided by War
When the war began, the residents of the Upper Cumberland Plateau were divided in their loyalties. In Cumberland County, for instance, the numbers of Confederate and Union enlistments were about equal.
Some Confederate supporters joined Co. B, Hamilton's Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, and Co. A and Co. B, 28th Tennessee Infantry. Many Unionists enlisted in Capt. Robert C. Swan's Co. D, 2nd Tennessee Infantry.
Confederate training camps included McGinnis in Fentress County and Myers and Zollicoffer in Overton County. Eldridge Myatt, 65-year-old former member of the state legislature who had introduced the bill forming Cumberland County, served in the Confederate army, was captured at the Battle of Lookout Mountain in 1863, and died in prison in 1864.
Union recruits trained at Camp Dick Robinson in Kentucky. Azariah Dorton, who enlisted in August 1861, dodged Confederate pickets to get there by taking a 200-mile route through the mountains "in such a circuitous course that it took some sixteen days."
The war split some Cumberland County families apart forever. Elizabeth S. Ford divorced her husband, Christopher Ford, when he enlisted with the Confederacy. It resulted in a long custody battle over their two daughters and violence between their families.
After the war, Tennesseans faced the challenges of reconciling their differences and rebuilding their communities. The residents of the Upper Cumberland Plateau found it especially difficult given the vicious, personal nature of the wartime violence they had experienced.
"Little thought have I had that I should ever live to see civil war in this, our goodly land, but so it is! ... There will be as many a divided family in this once happy Union...father against son, and brother against brother."
—Amanda McDowell, Sparta, White County, May 4, 1861
Preparing to Drill Courtesy Library of Congress
Sunday Service - Courtesy Library of Congress