The argument can be common.
The war was about slavery vs. the war was not about slavery.
Usually, when those two points of view collide, the result is a string of reasons why… coming from both sides.
More significant to me are the accounts of people who lived in that time… and even better if written during the war years… especially if coming from a Southerner in the midst of slavery.
While this comes from the decade after the closing of the Civil War, a portion of the Southern Unionist claim deposition of Elizabeth Mummaw, of Frederick County, Virginia still gives us something to consider.
During the war, she and her husband, Jacob M. Mummaw, lived “about 3 ½ miles from Middletown in Shenandoah Co. at Willow Mills on Cedar Creek.” For those who prefer to touch base with the nativism of the Mummaws, as a sort of litmus test as to where their Unionism was coming from, Elizabeth was born in Baltimore, and her husband was a native of Frederick County, in the Shenandoah Valley.
We both sympathized with the north and with the cause of the Union all the time from beginning to end of the war and so did all our family.
My husband did all he could for Union soldiers when they were about: he helped my brother to escape from the rebel army and kept him concealed when the rebels were around… We took the Union side and stuck to it all the time.
When the state seceded my husband said he was not going to vote for secession, that he had no blacks to vote for and was not going to vote for a slave government. This was after persons had called on him and told him to go and vote, and I asked him what he was going to do. We did not believe in slavery; we were members of the United Brethren Church.
Of course, my primary interest in bringing this up was the quote pinning slavery on the Confederate government. It’s rich stuff… a native of the Shenandoah Valley, living at that time in the midst of slavery… in that area… stating outright that he (and his wife) did not side with the Confederacy because he saw it as being a slave government.
There’s something else here as well…
As I pointed out the other day, there were Southern Unionists who were slaveholders… and that might have come as a surprise to some.
Then too, as we see here, there were Southern Unionists who were anti-slavery… and that might not come as any great surprise to most.
But we also have religion coming into play in this case of Southern Unionists with anti-slavery viewpoints. There has been much attention placed on this in the Shenandoah Valley, but when it comes to the Brethren, it’s usually in the area around Rockingham County. In these parts (Frederick County), however, the influence of the Quaker faith usually comes to mind more often (and this also spills over into neighboring Loudoun County, just beyond the Valley, on the east side of the Blue Ridge).
Southern Unionism was not limited in its origins.