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Re: Unionists in southwestern VA
Posted by: Robert Baker (ID *****7979) Date: April 11, 2003 at 03:14:20
In Reply to: Unionists in southwestern VA by Laura C. Edwards of 780

Laura,

There is fairly extensive information that there were significant numbers of Unionists in the southwestern section of Virginia. The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion reveals the existence of a group loosely termed the Heroes of America. This group probably originated in North Carolina and spread into Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee by the last year of the war. More than likely, there was some portion of it in southern West Virginia and it probably tied into East Kentucky as well. There is extensive evidence that Montgomery County contained dozens, if not hundreds, of people who claimed membership in this organization. Other counties nearby counted large numbers of members. Beware when you read about this because the Confederates would inflate the numbers for various reasons. Also, after the war, people who were quietly Unionist would also claim membership even though they may have had only a tangential connection.

There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that more Unionists would have been found in Southwest Virginia, but a large number of them chose to leave the region and join the Union army, probably entering the service in the 14th Kentucky Infantry, 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, and the 5th West Virginia Infantry.

There are no membership lists of members of the organization, as that would have been dangerous both during and after the war. The Confederates wrote up lists of suspected members, many of which can be found in the Official Records or in the newspapers of the time. There was a gentleman named Dotson who did his thesis on the Heroes in one Virginia county. It is partially entitled, "Sisson's Kingdom" and can be found on the internet. He refers to a source he used that was a commission for reparations after the war, I think. He extracted that information for only one county, but, if I recall correctly, the same source covers many counties in the west end of the state.

Also, there are some passing mentions of Loyalists operating in other far-western counties like Scott, Wise, Washington, Smyth, etc. They are hard to find, but they are out there. Still, I am seriously doubting that you will find a "roster" of Unionists from the region. Good luck, though! Perhaps these suggestions will get you going in the right direction.

I am, madam, yours very truly,

Robert M. Baker,

Historian for the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry,
M.A. Nova S.E. U., 1995,
Signals Officer, KY Dept., SUVCW,
Member, McKee Lodge #144, F. and A. M.
Kentucky State Police, Post 11, London


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