CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Why did some Appalachian communities support the Confederate cause while others remained loyal to the Union?
That's one topic to be covered during a Tuesday lecture at the Culture Center by Auburn University history professor and Civil War author Kenneth W. Noe.
Noe's talk, "The Civil War in Appalachia," is part of the Civil War Scholars Lecture Series, funded with assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council with additional support from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The program, which begins at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public.
Appalachian Civil War loyalties were determined by a number of factors, Noe said in a telephone interview.
"There is no easy answer," he said. "In some places, it did have to do with class and slave ownership, but I think that's been tremendously overplayed. [Civil War author and scholar] Ralph Mann argues that geographic orientation had a lot to do with it. If your family came to Appalachia from the South, you were more likely to support the Confederate cause."
Religion also played a role.
"Most people don't realize it, but 15 years before the war, the Methodist and Baptist churches were split nationally along north-south lines," Noe said. "Members were divided over issues like slave owners being able to become bishops or missionaries."
Stances taken by important local political figures and landowners influenced the way their less-connected neighbors viewed their loyalties.
"We're so used to thinking about Appalachia as being one place these days, but a common denominator for the region didn't really exist until the arrival of the coal industry," Noe said. "Prior to that, there were distinct settlement patterns across the region, and some places had stronger relationships with their state government than others."
Noe said that when he was growing up in the Blacksburg, Va., area, he and his classmates were under the impression that the Civil War took place somewhere else.