There is no question that southern unionism was not limited to the mountains, although quite prevalent there. Florida did indeed have its 1st Florida Cavalry, a federal unit. Also, down in the wiregrass section of southwest Alabama, the Dothan area today, was a pocket of unionism. There was a 7th Tennessee Cavalry out of West Tennessee, not East Tennessee, that was federal.
And then there were the Germans and the Mexicans in Texas who sided more with the union. You probably know the place where a group of German unionists were massacred by confederates.
I am not certain there is a common thread to this unionist tradition, but I suspect there is. Unionism may be strong in areas where plantations were either limited in size and number or where there might have been strong resentment to a planter class. Certainly, I do not know for sure, but can only speculate.
Even in the confederate ranks, I suspect there was some resentment to the planter class, especially after the Confederate Congress passed a law stating that if you owned 20 slaves, you wouldn't have to serve in the C.S. Army. That could not have been good for morale, but would seem to confirm the unionists' philosophy of "rich man's war, poor man's fight."
Thanks for telling me about Martine Bates' book on Sheets, as I look forward to reading it, also. The popular view is that Sheets was a courageous guy, the William Wallace of northwest Alabama. But I am not so sure that is true. As far as I know, he never did picked up a gun and put himself in harms way.
It's true that Sheets may have spent time in jail in Montgomery, but he may well have known that the confederates would probably have to release him as he was the duly elected delegate from Winston County.
Looney, on the other hand, strikes me as one dangerous guy who would fight fire with fire. He may not have been as educated as Sheets, but I suspect the Confederates may have feared him more.
Lot of hunches on my part with little to back it up. Oh well. I do appreciate your continued interest in this subject and look forward to meeting you this spring in Blountsville.
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