College of Arts and Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)


Steven E. Woodworth


American History, American Civil War, Appalachian History, guerrilla war, irregular warfare, partisan, guerrilla, bushwhacker, Southern Appalachia, memory, oral history, Vincent A. Witcher, John H. Morgan, John S. Mosby, Champ Ferguson, Lieber Code, Partisan Ranger Act, East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, 34th Virginia Cavalry, Confederate cavalry




Vincent A. Witcher, the subject of this dissertation, is largely unknown to Civil War historians. He is rarely mentioned, and when he is, it is primarily in connection with J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Without the 1886 New York Times article and the resulting lawsuit, Witcher might have faded away as a historical footnote for his minor role at Gettysburg. However, this dissertation argues that his libel suit represents a microcosm of the complicated nature of guerrilla warfare during the Civil War. Through a lens of memory and regional history, the Witcher case offers a better understanding of how partisans perceived their wartime roles, justified their actions, and sought redemption of their reputations after the war. Moreover, this case reflects the viciousness of irregular warfare in the mountains of Southern Appalachia, a region sometimes overlooked by Civil War historians. Thus, close examination of the Witcher case through a narrative lens of memory, combined with regional and cultural emphases, allows a better understanding of the long-term impact of the American Civil War.

Available for download on Wednesday, December 18, 2024

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