Regarding the Aug. 17 Point of View “Our anti-Confederate heritage, too”: I agree with Timothy Tyson’s suggestion for monuments representing the state’s varied population and with the legislature’s move to protect monuments from popular and changing emotions of the day. Much of his article is good history. Some is not.
His claim that “anti-Confederate guerillas, Unionists and runaway slaves battled the Confederacy” and made parts of the state virtually ungovernable stretches the facts.
While runaway slaves saw combat in all-black regiments and others saw service as guides and scouts, instances of other combat were rare. No part of the state “became virtually ungovernable.”
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Tyson’s claim that thousands “of local white men immediately volunteered for the Union armies” stretches the fact that over the entire war only 1,300 enlisted in the east and a similar number in the west.
While some were undoubtedly Unionist, others just as undoubtedly enlisted for the large signing bonuses, grants of food and housing for wives and children and promise that they would remain in the county of enlistment and would face combat only if attacked. These were inducements the Confederacy could not afford.
Unionism, in many cases, was in reality opportunism. Tyson’s points are good, but the facts he uses to back them up are questionable.
Donald E. Collins
Associate professor emeritus, Department of History, East Carolina