Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fear in North Carolina


Recently, I finished reading Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journals and Letters of the Henry Family, edited by Karen Clinard and Richard Russell (2008). It is overall a great read, and fairly uncluttered by editorial remarks, which I really like.

The diary follows the life of William and Cornelia Henry, an upper-class, slave-owning  family living in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Cornelia started keeping her diary on January 1, 1860, and diligently kept pen to paper throughout the war years. The post-war entries are sporadic, and finally come to an end October 18, 1868.

Even though the Henrys were upper class, the diary provides and incredible look at life in the mountains of western North Carolina during the war years. The diary is concerned with everyday life - trying to raise children, managing a household with increasing shortages,  and from mid-1863 on, constant worry about the encroachment of both Yankees from Tennessee and home rogues up to no good. In the final days of the war, William Henry, who had served for a time in the home guard, during the "Laurel Wars," was forced into hiding and the farm was raided several times.  Equally important are the entries right after the war, in the beginning days of Reconstruction, as the family tried to adjust to what would become the new normal.

Overall, Fear is North Carolina is a great addition to the historiography of the War in North Carolina, and especially in the western part of our fair state.  

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