Author ORCID Identifier
Year of Publication
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Arts and Sciences
Dr. Amy Murrell Taylor
My dissertation, “‘Escaped from Dixie:’ Civil War Refugees and the Creation of a Confederate Diaspora,” examines the experiences of the half a million people who fled from the Confederacy to Union territory under duress during the U.S. Civil War—a massive, diverse movement that had a lasting impact on the nation’s reconstruction in the aftermath of the war. My research considers what prompted refugees to leave, as well as what logistics those escaping from the Confederacy and resettling elsewhere considered, especially in the absence of any formal institutions for the aid of refugees in the nineteenth century. The handful of studies that exist on free people who became Civil War refugees all look inward, focusing on those migrating within the Confederacy, for insight into the wartime refugee crisis and the experience of the war on the Confederate home front. This insular focus of the refugee crisis obscures the movement of refugees who fled from the Confederacy to Union lines, and beyond. My research expands the geographic scope to those who left the Confederacy, and also expands the discussion of the Civil War refugee crisis into the postwar years to consider the long-term effects of displacement on individuals, their communities of origin, their host communities, and on the reunited nation as a whole. The expanded geographic and temporal boundaries of my research suggest that, in addition to creating a refugee crisis during the war itself, one of the most enduring legacies of the Confederacy was the movement and influence of its people throughout the nation.
Part 1 analyzes the wartime experiences of those who fled from the Confederacy, and each chapter focuses on a distinct group of refugees. Chapter 1 focuses on native Northerners who fled from the Confederacy to return to the Northeast, often using their pre-existing social connections to make their transition to a new life smoother, while Chapter Two turns to native Southerners by analyzing the social networks of Quakers who fled North Carolina as conscientious objectors. Chapter Three moves farther South and considers the wartime experiences of the thousands of Texans who fled into Mexico, paying special attention to the significance of the international border and the unpreparedness of the United States government to address the thousands of destitute refugees asking them for aid. Finally, Chapter Four expands on the federal government’s unpreparedness to address a refugee crisis by examining the experiences of the nearly thirty thousand American Indian refugees who fled from Confederate-controlled Indian Territory to seek the protection of the United States in Kansas.
Part Two of the dissertation follows the refugees in the aftermath of the war and highlights the long-term consequences of their displacement on themselves, and on the nation. This section has three chapters and distinguishes the experiences of those who chose to return to the former Confederacy from those who did not return. Those who returned to the South did so because they thought their future was in the South, and in helping reconstruct and reshape the region; whereas those who did not return believed their future prospects were better outside of the war-ravaged South than within it—and many of them would go on to have prosperous and influential lives elsewhere.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Greenhill, Stefanie, "“ESCAPED FROM DIXIE:” CIVIL WAR REFUGEES AND THE CREATION OF A CONFEDERATE DIASPORA" (2021). Theses and Dissertations--History. 67.
Available for download on Sunday, May 28, 2023