Unionists in North Georgia

by Steve Allen Mashburn

My maternal LONG family, from Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties, served in the pro-Union forces after deserting the Confederate Army. They were involved in a terrible conflict with the local Confederate home guard.

According to family oral tradition, the Home Guard had burnt their barns and murdered the youngest son. The LONG men returned home and hunted down the Home Guard one by one.

The leader was the last one that they killed. They found him hiding at his mother’s house and dragged him out onto the front porch. The man and his mother pleaded for his life but the elder LONG said “I reckon you ain’t any better than my son” and shot him in the head.

The LONGS then fled to Union controlled Tennesee floating their brother, who couldn’t swim, across the Tennesee River on a log. They joined the 5th TN mounted Infantry, a Union unit.

William TWIGGS, half-brother to my paternal gr-gr-gr-grandfather Rev. John Harvey MASHBURN. made an inspired speech on the Fannin County courthouse steps encouraging the local men to join the Union army. TWIGGS later became a captain in the the 5th TN Mounted Infantry, the same unit that the LONGS served in.

The LONGS were cousins to the MASHBURNS (being descended from Drury MASHBURN of Burke County, NC) so it is interestingly that the MASHBURNS, who lived further south in Forsyth County, all served in Confederate army.

“How common was Unionism in the northern counties of Georgia?”

Depends who you ask and what time period you ask that question.

At the time of its creation, Union County was named because “none but Union men” lived there. Many men from Union, Fannin, Pickens, and Gilmer served in the Federal Army and the area was a haven for Confederate deserters.

After the War (probably due to the Federal governments attempts to stop moonshine activity), popular sediment became anti-Federal government. Luke Tate in his history of Pickens County appears to be embarrassed by his county’s insistance on flying the American flag at the courthouse. http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ga/county/fulton/library/pickenshistory/page1_100.pdf

This shift in public opinion is even apparent today – the nickname of Fannin County High School is the Rebels and the county is 99 percent white. I once heard my uncle Johnny LONG say, “They ain’t goona make this ole rebel do thet!” He is a direct descendant of the unionist LONGS.

So it depends who you ask and what time period you ask that question.

Georgia Unionist Resources

A Separate Civil War (book by Jonathan Dean Sarris)

Unionist (Georgia Encycloprdia)

Michel Gays’ Website (nagivation has been broken – here are two pages)
http://www.izzy.net/~michaelg/darnell.htm – this pages addresses conditions after the war – direct testimony of Sion Darnell.

Robert S. Davis, Jr., Memoirs of a Partisan War

More General Resources

Southern Unionist (Wikipedia)

Essential Civil War Curriculum – Unionism