Book Review: Alabamians in Blue: Freedmen, Unionists, and the Civil War in the Cotton State


by Christopher M. Rein

Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2019. Pp. xiv, 300. Illus., maps, tables, appends., notes, biblio., index. $47.50. ISBN: 0807170666

Forgotten Southerner Loyalists

Using the case of Alabama, Dr. Rein, of the U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute, takes up one of the most neglected topics in Civil War studies, the role of Southerners, black and white, who stood with the Union, men largely written out of history by the “Lost Cause” mythologizers.

While concentrating on the approximately 2,500 white and 5,000 black – mostly "contrabands" – Alabamians who served in the Union ranks, Rein also looks at the role of civilian white Unionists in resistance to the Confederacy. Arguably, given the hold secessionists had on the state, while these numbers– especially of white resistants – are small, they suggest there was more Unionism in the state than generally believed, particularly given that some men of either color are also known to have served in regiments credited to other states.

Rein touches on many issues, recruiting, training, and service, the fate of these men and other Unionists as the tides of war swept back and forth across the state, racial tension among the Unionists, and their postwar fate, the blacks often virtually re-enslaved, and the whites persecuted and even murdered.

Alabamians in Blue, a volume in the LSU series “Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War”, is an important contribution to the study of the Civil War and of Reconstruction, and particularly for anyone interested in Unionist sentiment in the Confederacy.


Note: Alabamians in Blue is also available in several e-editions.

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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