Confederate War Dissenters

The tag "Confederate War Dissenters" refers to the white men and women who opposed or challenged the Confederacy internally. The South, even among whites, had never been socially, culturally, or economically homogenous. Indeed, many white southerners lived in rural hill country unsuitable for large-scale agriculture, and many of those white southerners were too impoverished to own enslaved persons. However, they nonetheless joined the Confederacy and went to war to preserve a broader social and economic structure predicated upon slavery.

As the war drug on into its second and third years, its massive bloodshed and devastating economic impacts exposed the fault lines between socially and economically elite and non-elite in the Confederacy. White men, women, and children living in the Confederacy protested government policies like the Twenty Slave Law that exempted largely-elite enslavers from conscription if they owned twenty or more enslaved persons. Dissent could take many forms—ranging from private correspondence to boycotts, riots, and military rebellion.

One of the largest instances of dissent within the Confederacy came in the Bread Riots of 1863. The Confederacy, notoriously unable to collect taxes, required citizens unable to pay taxes with currency to pay with a "tax-in-kind," or a payment of taxes with its equivalent in goods or livestock. This policy disproportionately affected impoverished women and children barely subsisting and often starving due to the loss of their husbands and fathers off fighting in the war. Women therefore rioted in the Confederate capital at Richmond, as well as in many other cities, in the spring of 1863 to demand bread from the Confederate government. The Bread Riots are only one example of many in which white southerners opposed varied elements of the war effort as it disproportionately subjected them to harm. Crucially, not all dissenters were pro-Union, as many supported the Confederacy's mission but not its policies (American Heritage).

Read more about Confederate War Dissenters at