This was a war where men rode to the house of a neighbor they had known for
many years, called him to the door and shot him dead; where other men left
homes and wives and children and trekked north in cold and rain to serve the
army and cause of their choice; where still others served in poorly supplied,
poorly equipped, nearly forgotten units to protect border and home…
— Noel Fisher, author


In 1860, voting records indicated that fewer than 20% of residents of the three Smoky Mountain counties in Tennessee supported secession; in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains that percentage would grow to about 46%. Several reasons factor into this difference: long-held loyalties to the United States, a distrust of powerful and wealthy pro-secession groups, the view that it was a rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight and rugged mountain independence. To Appalachian residents, the real war was at home and not on some distant battlefield. As the war progressed, rifts tore into communities, churches and families. The effect of these rifts can still be felt today in the area’s local history, gravestones, music and folklore.

Our June speaker, Kenneth Noe, will be exploring the many facets of the war in Appalachia and just how these mountain communities and their counterparts in the towns were affected by the war and the split in loyalties between the Union and Confederacy. A native of Virginia, Noe received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, where he studied under the late Robert W. Johannssen. He then taught at West Georgia College for ten years before going to Auburn in 2000 where he is Alumni Professor and Draughon Professor of Southern History. His major teaching and research areas are the American Civil War and Appalachian history. Ken is the author or editor of seven books including: Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army After 1861 (Chapel Hill, 2010); Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle (Lexington, 2002); The CivilWar in Appalachia: Collected Essays, co-edited with Shannon H. Wilson (Knoxville, 1997) and A Southern Boy in Blue: The Memoir of Marcus Woodcock, 9th Kentucky Infantry (U.S.A.) (Knoxville, 1996).

Dr. Noe is a frequent speaker on the Civil War Round Table circuit, and a participant in the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lectureship Program. He was the 2008-2009 president of the Alabama Historical Association. He currently serves on the Board of Editors of Civil War History, and was a consultant to the NBC series, Who Do You Think You Are?