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Panel Discussion: Loyalty and Desertion During the Civil War

Event Description

East Tennessee State University’s Department of History and the Vance Birthplace will present a panel discussion on loyalty and desertion during the Civil War in the Appalachian mountains.

What led people to fight and what led people to desert? Desertion was an ongoing problem during the Civil War. During his time as Governor, Zebulon Vance knew this struggle all too well and addressed many proclamations of amnesty in-an-effort to bring deserters back into the fold.

“It shows what I have always believed that the great popular heart is not now and never has been in this war! It was a revolution of the politicians not the people; was fought at first by the natural enthusiasm of our young men, and has been kept agoing by state and sectional pride assisted by that bitterness of feeling produced by the cruelties and brutalities of the enemy.” - Zebulon B. Vance to David L. Swain, Raleigh September 22, 1864.

 “Historians are undergoing a re-evaluation of the terminology they use to discuss the American Civil War. One common assumption is that the South and the Confederacy were synonymous. They weren’t. Scholars have dug deeply into the divisions within southern states—like North Carolina—and have shown that Zebulon Vance may not have been right in his assessment of Confederate support. But he wasn’t wrong either.” – Dr. Steve Nash

Panel Discussion: Historians Judkin Browning, Katherine Cutshall, and Dan Slagle along with Steve Nash as moderator will discuss desertion and loyalty during the Civil War from various view-points.

Coffee and Welcome, 9:00 am 9:30 am

Discussion, Loyalty and Desertion, 9:30 am to 11:00 am

  • Judkin Browning is Professor of History and Director of the Graduate Program in History at Appalachian State University in Boone.  He earned his PhD at the University of Georgia in 2006.  He is author of numerous articles and four books, including Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina (UNC, 2011), and The Seven Days Battles: The War Begins Anew (Praeger, 2012).  He is currently co-authoring an environmental history of the Civil War (with Tim Silver), which will be published by UNC Press in late 2019, and is working on multiple projects dealing with North Carolina soldiers and deserters.  He also edits the "New Perspectives on the Civil War Era" series for the University of Georgia Press.  He serves on the Editorial board of the Journal of Military History and the North Carolina Historical Review.
  • Katherine C. Cutshall is the Assistant Director at the Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She recently completed her undergraduate studies in History at the University of North Carolina Asheville. Her thesis research focused on the enslaved people of Buncombe County, North Carolina and the Buncombe Turnpike that gave rise to a slavery-based economy in the region. She is continuing her research of the social and cultural history of western North Carolina as a candidate for a Master’s of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UNC Asheville.
  • Dan Slagle is a local historian and researcher. He is a native of Madison County and has called Swannanoa home since the late 1970's. His studies of western North Carolina began as genealogical research in the 1980's. He found many ancestors were soldiers in the Civil War (Confederate and Union). His research focus then turned to local Civil War events and for the last twenty years he has dug deep into the social and cultural history impact of the “Shelton Laurel Massacre.”
  • Steve Nash is Associate Professor of History at East Tennessee State University. He earned his master's in history from Western Carolina University in 2001 and his PhD from the University of Georgia in 2009. He is the author of Reconstruction's Ragged Edge: The Politics of Postwar Life in the Mountain South (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), which received the Weatherford Award for Nonfiction awarded by Berea College and the Appalachian Studies Association. He has also contributed essays to several edited volumes related to the Civil War Era.

Question and Answer, 11:00 am to 12:00 pm