Union Troops in Southern States
Did you know that almost every state in the south had organized regiments in the Union Army in the Civil War?
While many southern residents favored secession, it was not always a clear cut line that was drawn. There were pockets of the population in many southern states who opposed the Confederacy and were willing to fight for the Union.
Tennessee and Virginia in particular were divided. Of the nearly 100,000 white southern Union soldiers, nearly a third of them came from East Tennessee.
Virginia’s residents were so divided during the war that the western part of the state broke off and formed a new state, West Virginia, in 1863.
The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 opened up enlistment for African American soldiers. At that point, the US Colored Troops began organizing, with more than half of these soldiers being from southern states. This influx of nearly 180,000 new soldiers into the Union Army turned the tide of the war and contributed to the Union victory in 1865.
South Carolina was the only state to have no organized Union regiments for white soldiers. Four regiments of the US Colored Troops, however, were formed in South Carolina.
Service records for all of the Union soldiers from southern regiments, as well as all of US Colored Troops, have been digitized and are available to view on Fold3.
The image attached shows Frank Lavelle, an Irish immigrant, who joined the 1st Mississippi Mounted Rifle Battalion in March 1864 when he was 17. He was the bugler. His service records document his time in the war, including his death from a gun shot wound nine months later in December 1864. (Image courtesy of Fold3)