Last Confederate Stronghold

The last surviving Confederate stronghold officially rejoined the United States in 1946 after the inhabitants officially wrote to the incumbent United States President, Harry Truman asking for permission to rejoin. This is the true story of a small town in upstate New York near Buffalo that seceded with the Confederate States and following the American Civil War still retained their seceded status for over 81 years until the end of the Second World War. This is the true story that very many people never knew about.

Town Line is a small town in Erie County, New York, 14 miles from Buffalo. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the inhabitants met in the local schoolhouse and after an intense and at times vociferous debate, voted 85 to 40 to secede from the Union and join the Confederate states by signing the articles of secession. This was due to many of the 125 qualified voters being reluctant to formally approve of a Civil War just because the overall public opinion in the North was overwhelmingly for it. Apparently, 5 of the inhabitants subsequently left and joined the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia although another 20 left to fight for the Union. However, as the Civil War dragged on, their defiant stance and secession fervour cooled but even at the end of the Civil War they never formally and officially rejoined the Union.

Following the Second World War, it would appear that many of the returning World War 2 veterans were very concerned at leaving their country to fight but returning to find that they didn't actually have one. They clearly did not like it. As a direct result of this renewed patriotic fever, someone wrote to the President of the United States, Harry Truman at the time about their dilemma and he cheerfully replied stating "There are few controversies not susceptible to peaceful resolution if examined in tranquillity and calm rather than strife and turmoil. I suggest roast veal as a vehicle of peace. Why don`t you run down the fattest calf in Erie County, barbeque it and serve it with fixin`s in the old blacksmith shop where the ruckus started? Who can tell? The dissidents might decide to resume citizenship".

Well, the citizens took President Harry Truman at his word and did just that. A fatted calf was chosen and subsequently barbecued in the blacksmiths shop (where the local schoolhouse used to be) on 24th January 1946 and the town`s inhabitants, by 90 to 23, voted to formally return to the Union and suspend their Confederate allegiance. One of the prominent Town Line residents said at the time "If our former allies in Mississippi and Georgia feel the Civil War is over, so do we". This referred to Dade County, Georgia and Vicksburg, Mississippi both officially rejoining the United States in July 1945. As such, the last Rebel town of the Civil War officially rejoined the Union and in a formal ceremony the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy was silently lowered and the Stars and Stripes of the United States was raised.

Article by Stewart "Goober" Douglas

Sources: Wikipedia ; Discoveries : Civil War`s Last Rebel Town finally rejoined the U.S – Genealogy Bank.

The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, Winter 2016