As anyone who reads this blog and my Southern Unionists Chronicles Blog (and sees my profile pic on Twitter… and occasional profile pic in FB) knows… I’m a big follower of David Hunter Strother (aka “Porte Crayon”)… and for some time, I’ve been wanting to transcribe the first portion of his “Personal Recollections of the War. By a Virginian.” The initial piece (the portion that covers his experiences through May 30, 1861) appeared in the June 1866 edition of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Now, I have the biography (Porte Crayon: The Life of David Hunter Strother) published by Cecil D. Eby, Jr. in 1960, and I have Enemies of the Country: New Perspectives on Unionists in the Civil War South, in which appears an excellent piece (“Fighting the Devil with Fire: David Hunter Strother’s Private Civil War”) by Jonathan M. Berkey, but I’ve been wanting to hear more from Strother himself about the “coming of the war”.
So, in the coming weeks, once a week, I’m going to feature portions of Strother’s “Personal Recollections”, at least as they relate to the time until he joined the Union army (July 1861). What I think this will show is the reality of the serious difficulties faced by many Virginians in picking sides. Of course, Strother, as Berkey pointed out, “passed what Carl Degler has called ‘the severest test’ of Southern Unionism by serving in the Union army.”
Keep in mind, I’ve never read his “Personal Recollections of the War,” so, you will be reading as I read. I may, at some point, interject a post commenting on Strother’s narrative. I’m looking forward to hearing “Porte” speak… I’ll kick-off this string of posts sometime at the beginning of next week.
* Series of installments begin here.