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Though the Civil War ended in April 1865, the conflict between Unionists and Confederates continued. The bitterness and rancor resulting from the collapse of the Confederacy spurred an ongoing cycle of hostility and bloodshed that made the Reconstruction period a violent era of transition. The violence was so pervasive that the federal government deployed units of the U.S. Army in North Carolina and other southern states to maintain law and order and protect blacks and Unionists. This book tells the story of the army's twelve-year occupation of North Carolina, a time of political instability and social unrest. This book details the complex interaction between the federal soldiers and the North Carolina civilians during this tumultuous period. This study examines the military efforts to stabilize the region in the face of opposition from both ordinary citizens and dangerous outlaws such as the Regulators and the Ku Klux Klan. By 1872, the widespread, organized violence that had plagued North Carolina since the close of the war had ceased, enabling the bluecoats and the ex-Confederates to participate in public rituals and social events that served as symbols of sectional reconciliation. This rapprochement has been largely forgotten, lost amidst the postbellum barrage of Lost Cause rhetoric, causing many historians to believe that the process of national reunion did not begin until after Reconstruction.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY




978-0-8131-7306-1 (pdf version)


978-0-8131-3884-8 (epub version)



Civil War, Unionists, Confederates, Reconstruction period, Violence, Bluecoats, Tar heels, North Carolina, Ku Klux Klan, Regulators


American Politics | Political History | Politics and Social Change | United States History

Bluecoats and Tar Heels: Soldiers and Civilians in Reconstruction North Carolina
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