Reconstruction's Ragged Edge

The Politics of Postwar Life in the Southern Mountains

By Steven E. Nash

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 maps, 3 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4554-4
    Published: August 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-2624-6
    Published: April 2016
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2625-3
    Published: January 2016
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4815-4
    Published: January 2016

Civil War America

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Awards & distinctions

2016 Weatherford Award for Nonfiction, Berea College and Appalachian Studies Association

In this illuminating study, Steven E. Nash chronicles the history of Reconstruction as it unfolded in the mountains of western North Carolina. Nash presents a complex story of the region’s grappling with the war’s aftermath, examining the persistent wartime loyalties that informed bitter power struggles between factions of white mountaineers determined to rule. For a brief period, an influx of federal governmental power enabled white anti-Confederates to ally with former slaves in order to lift the Republican Party to power locally and in the state as a whole. Republican success led to a violent response from a transformed class of elites, however, who claimed legitimacy from the antebellum period while pushing for greater integration into the market-oriented New South.

Focusing on a region that is still underrepresented in the Reconstruction historiography, Nash illuminates the diversity and complexity of Appalachian political and economic machinations, while bringing to light the broad and complicated issues the era posed to the South and the nation as a whole.

About the Author

Steven E. Nash is assistant professor of history at East Tennessee State University.
For more information about Steven E. Nash, visit the Author Page.


“Deeply researched and engagingly written, Reconstruction's Ragged Edge provides new insight into a complex and tumultuous past and can be warmly welcomed as further evidence of the upland region's escape from the margins of southern historiography.”--Journal of American History

“[An] excellent study of Reconstruction in western North Carolina. Highly recommended.”--Choice

“A very effective study that does more than just fill in one of the blank spaces on the map of Reconstruction historiography in the South. It provides an interesting and instructive story on its own terms, but also gives us a useful comparison to other regions across the South.”--Reviews in History

"Deconstructs post-Civil War mountain politics. . . . [and] shows how the bitter clash took a long time to truly wind down."--Jon Elliston, WNC Magazine

“Written in an accessible style, thoroughly researched, and well argued. . . . Will be of interest to students of national and state Reconstruction efforts, Appalachian studies, and Civil War-era politics.”--Journal of the Civil War Era

“Smart, well-researched, and well-written. . . . Indispensable not only for the study of North Carolina but the whole South in the war’s aftermath.”--H-Net