Political, economic, and social ruin are the common consequences of losing a war. As a result of the U. S. Civil War, of all American citizens, only Southerners have experienced such a loss. And many Southerners who survived the war didn’t survive its aftermath: Union Reconstruction. They became pawns of political power brokers (both external and indigenous); most became impoverished; and, the Southern society is still (over 150 years later) sorting out the remaining pieces of a “new” structure of social relationships.
But some of our ancestors did survive, either by hard work, a force of wit and will, pure luck, or some combination thereof. Between Chestnut and Yellow Leaf chronicles the post-war experiences of two families in rural central Alabama, one family dirt poor and the other quite wealthy. In varying degrees, they survived Reconstruction and its long-lasting residual effects, but their struggles were exhausting, and the price they paid was imposing.