Redistribution of wealth was Unionists’ aim

“Planters in the low country of North Carolina… were terrified to learn that, as one wrote, Unionists among the lower classes had ‘gone so far as to declare [that they] will take the property from the rich men & divide it among the poor men.’

“It was no idle threat. From near the war’s beginning , bands of Unionists had been raid coastal plantations. Formed initially to protect themselves from conscription and Confederate raiders, their objectives eventually expanded  to include driving planters from their land and dividing it among themselves.”

— From “Bitterly Divided: “The South’s Inner Civil War” by David Williams (2010)


Homefront, too, endangered Confederate soldiers

“Some [Confederate] states passed ‘stay laws’ to prevent confiscation of soldiers’ property in their absence or postpone it until after the war. But creditors would have none of it…. Jonathan Worth — a North Carolina slaveholder, cotton planter, mill owner and speculator [and future governor, 1865-68] — complained that the stay law ‘disorganized Civilized society.’ A fellow member of the North Carolina elite, B. F. Moore, called it ‘radical, unwise, demoralizing, disgraceful.’

“Many such men simply used their influence with local magistrates to ignore the stay law and continue taking land. In North Carolina, they succeeded in having the stay law repealed after only four months. The result  was that tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers returned home to find their families destitute and their land gone.”

— From “Bitterly Divided: The South’s Inner Civil War” by David Williams (2008)

The dangerous game of tracking fugitive slaves

“For slaves in the tidewater regions of North Carolina and Virginia, the Great Dismal Swamp offered a refuge. In the North Carolina swamp counties of Camden and Currituck, a band of fugitives numbering between 500 and 600 made frequent raids on plantations and Confederate supply depots.

“Frightened planters urged authorities to stop the raiders, but rooting them out of their well-defended hideouts was dangerous work….  In October 1862, a patrol of three armed whites went into the backwoods of Surry County, Virginia, looking for an encampment of about 100 fugitives. They found the camp, but… none were ever seen alive again.”

— From “Bitterly Divided: The South’s Inner Civil War” by David Williams (2008)