I had to go to a meeting last evening, and on the way there, I was pondering this question: why were not the majority of Unionists in western North Carolina forced to flee? In my research for the Brooksville Raid book, I learned that many of those who lived in Hernando County (Florida) who possessed Unionist sentiments were driven from their homes by local Confederates. Many of them fled to Key West and joined the 2nd Florida Cavalry (US). The primary reason of the Brooksville-Bayport raid was to destroy the homes and property of those loyal Confederates who had driven the Unionists from their homes. Here in western North Carolina, there were families who were just as loyal to the Union, but it seems that we seldom hear of them being flat out driven from their homes (or burned out) during the war. Sure, it does happen – Colonel Palmer’s (58th NCT) home was burned toward the end of Kirk’s raid. But why did it not happen more often?
I think, for the time being, I have come to this conclusion: the reason why more families were not driven from the area is that people here were all kin, were all related. Like many other people, my ancestors first came to this area (east of the Blue Ridge) in the 1750s, and after the American Revolution, moved to the west side of the Blue Ridge. They lived in small, isolated groups, and due to the small number of families in the area, quickly became related through marriage. So the people who lived in the hollow over from yours might be kin, and while they might profess feelings for the other side, they were still kin. In contrast, Florida had only recently been open to settlement prior to the start of the war. And while it was also sparsely settled, not enough time had passed for the families to have developed strong inter-family relationships.
What do you think? I really don’t have anything to prove this, just observations.