Appalachian Ohio and the Civil War, 1862-1863. By Susan G. Hall.
(Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers,
2000. vi, 258 pp. $39.95, ISBN 978-0-7864-3738-2.)
In Appalachian Ohio and the Civil War, 1862-1863, Susan G. Hall provides a narrative history of a select group of Ohioans. Hall’s goal is to show how the Civil War affected the “small society” in Harrison County and the surrounding five eastern Appalachian counties during the one year period from the summer of 1862 to the following summer of 1863. For Hall, this represents a time of “crucial battles and political events which shaped the Civil War and the nation subsequently, and altered societies in many ways.” (p. 1)
This of course could be said for many different time periods during the four years of national conflict. But Hall claims that the recruiting of soldiers in 1862 led to a bitter division between Appalachian Ohio citizens who supported the Union’s actions and the growing presence of anti-war Democrats. She asserts that studying this specific period can illuminate the shift in soldier motivations and the rise of Copperhead support in Ohio, both of which contributed to why 1862-1863 was such a pivotal year affecting the home front and the men away at war. These issues are particularly important to the Appalachian region, and somewhat different from other Ohio counties, in that Harrison County had been home to George Armstrong Custer and Republican House of Representatives member John A. Bingham. The significance of Custer to the year or the area is not explored despite the considerable number of sources listed for him and the several reminders in the text that he was a native. Bingham, on the other hand, spoke strongly against the Vallandigham Copperheads in the region. And as Hall points out, Bingham played somewhat of an important role nationally as a Lincoln supporter from Ohio. Unfortunately Bingham’s impact on the local citizens is not explored beyond the extensive quoted sections from contemporary sources.
The book is made up of twenty-five chapters. Starting with “The Land and Its People,” Hall provides the background on the area and its residents before 1862. The chapters proceed chronologically, juxtaposing national events with local reactions by the diverse population that included Scotch-Irish, German, and African Americans. Hall concludes her story in July 1863 with “Morgan’s Raid and the Soldiers.” Although she explains the impact of the year’s events on some of the Appalachian Ohio soldiers, including local blacks who joined the United States Colored Troops, it is an abrupt ending. The monograph's lack of a conclusion greatly hinders the reader's ability to fully understand and appreciate how “this community’s experience was representative of the North’s; otherwise, it resembled that of the divided core of the country, in Appalachia.” (p. 3)
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