Book Review: Invisible Southerners: Ethnicity in the Civil War


by Anne J. Bailey

Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2006. Pp. xvi, 295. Notes, index . $26.95. ISBN: 0820327573

While white “Southerners” were the dominant political group in the South, we often forget that there were others to whom the term "Southerner" could be applied.  Invisible Southerners attempts to explore some of these.  Opening with a thoughtful a preface on ethnic identity in the ante bellum and wartime South, Prof. Baily (Georgia College), the author of Texans in the Confederate Cavalry  and other works on the Civil War,  presents three essays based on her 2004 Georgia Southern University’s “Jack N. and Addie D. Averitt Lecture Series”.

Each essay examines the wartime experiences of one of the South’s several distinct ethnic communities, African-Americans, Native Americans, and German-Americans.  Each group confronted the war and was affected by it in different ways, and Baily’s essays address these differences.  As the Germans had a lack of sympathy for secession, based in part on a lack of sympathy for slavery, she focuses on their efforts to avoid supporting the Confederacy, which often had dire consequences.  For American Indians, the focus is on the rift in the community, with some supporting and some opposing the Confederacy, often tied to the extent to which a tribe, or at least its leadership, had embraced slave-owning.  The essay on African-Americans is focused primarily on the community’s support for the Union, and the mass service of black men in blue. 

Invisible Southerners is useful read for anyone interested in the social aspects of the war, black men in Union service, and domestic tensions within the Confederacy.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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