I was delighted to hear from Victoria Bynum (Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War) last night via a comment made by her in my Southern Unionists Chronicles site. Not only was it great to hear from her, but it is even better knowing that she has launched her own blog, Renegade South. For those who appreciate and understand “memory” in Civil War studies, Dr. Bynum is quite familiar with the “watering-down of ‘other than the Confederacy'” memory (as well as the Civil War “forgetfulness” that goes hand-in-hand with that) evident in some Southerners. As she points out in her “About” page
This blog is an extension of my website, Renegade South: The Literary Works of Victoria Bynum, www.renegadesouth.com. I created it because, as a historian who uses a lot of records and documents about ordinary people, I enjoy communicating directly with people about history. Whether you are a historian or someone who just likes history, this blog was created with you in mind.
As the title, Renegade South, suggests, I study southern dissenters of the nineteenth century. Several kinds of renegades pass through the pages of my books and articles: Civil War Unionists and outlaws, multiracial people, unruly women, and political and religious nonconformists. The Free State of Jones, Unruly Women, and Southern Communities at War (in progress) highlight such folks in the Mississippi Piney Woods, North Carolina Piedmont, and the “Big Thicket” region of Hardin County, Texas.
It’s often hard to imagine that many white southerners opposed secession and served only grudgingly in the Confederate Army, if at all. Yet many did. Throughout the South, many put family, neighborhood, or religious and political beliefs ahead of secession. Many, in fact, hated the Confederacy with a passion, so much so that their backyards ran red with blood. Wherever they rose up, Confederates countered with deadly force. This sparked inner civil wars such as the one in Mississippi known as the Free State of Jones.
Many people who contact me have recently learned that a southern great-great-grandfather was a Union man. Or, they’ve found a long-departed relative in one of my books, and are intrigued by what they learn about his or her life. Others merely hope I can help them solve a family mystery, and sometimes I can. Whatever the reason, I truly enjoy being a people’s historian, and I especially love the thrill of discovering–and then being in a position to share–that ordinary people at times do extraordinary things. What makes me sad, and what keeps me digging around in dusty courthouse basements, is how quickly the past is buried.
I’m certain that this will add a fantastic feature to understanding “other-than-Confederate” Southern perspectives of the Civil War. Welcome to the blogosphere Dr. Bynum!