“The Rebel Acts of Hyde”


"It's now I will relate, Though in a broken way, How the rich in Hyde Did carry the poor away." The singer tells how the people of the deep south and the rich carried the area from the Union, alludes to its recapture, and says that some stayed true


The secession crisis of 1860/1861 proceeded in two stages: The seven deep southern states seceeded before Fort Sumter. The border states (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina) stayed loyal until Lincoln called for troops after Sumter.

All four of the latter states had strong pockets of unionism. In Virginia, they were mostly in the western part of the commonwealth, and eventually gained their own state (West Virginia). The same might have happened in east Tennessee had Union troops been able to capture the area sooner. Arkansas unionism was mostly in the Ozarks, too remote for anyone to notice.

North Carolina was more complicated. It didn't have a concentrated Union area, so Union forces could not hold. But unionism was probably stronger in North Carolina than any other Confederate state, and not confined to the mountains as in Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Hyde County and the town of Hatteras, the site of this song, are in fact on the eastern coast of North Carolina, Hyde County being on the north short of Pamlico Sound and Hatteras actually on the outer banks.

Hatteras itself was captured by Union forces on August 28-29, 1861, the first real amphibious operation of the war, and conquest of the Pamlico area continued from there. This song almost sounds like a local's protest of loyalty in an attempt to curry favor with the occupying authorities. - RBW


  1. BrownII 281, "The Rebel Acts of Hyde" (1 text)
  2. Roud #6644
  3. BI, BrII281


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1952 (Brown)
Keywords: Civilwar political
Found in: US(SE)