In January 1863, a posse from the Confederate 64th North Carolina infantry led by Lieutenant Colonel James Keith arrested fifteen mountain men in the Appalachians. Lieutenant Keith commanded five of the mountain men to kneel at a time and ordered his infantry men to shoot them. They hesitated, then Keith repeated the order and they shot. The oldest captive, Joe Woods, asked for a moment to pray and he was shot next. Keith commanded five more of the mountain men to kneel and ordered his men to shoot. By this time, 13-year old David Shelton, a boy from the mountains, was pleading with Keith for mercy saying that his father and three brothers had already been shot. Young Shelton, who was wounded in both arms, begged to be allowed to go home to his mother and sisters. He was shot to death next. This became known as the Shelton Laurel Massacre (McPherson 1994). The Shelton Laurel Massacre was investigated as soon as North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance heard about it. By the next month he had a full report about torture and murder under the command of Keith. Keith was court-martialed, found not guilty, and resigned (Paludan 31-34). By all accounts Keith was a cruel man. He did not hesitate to torture mountain women when demanding information about their husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers. According to reports, Keith and his troops hung women by their thumbs, tied them to trees, and whipped them. The Shelton Laurel Massacre and the accompanying guerilla warfare may seem like a minor conflict in the larger context of the Civil War. Paludan's motivation for reviewing this subject was "the chance to tie the social history of the Civil War era to a concern about the relationship between the grand events that are the focus of most historical investigation and the daily experience of ordinary life" (Paludan p xi). This is an example of the sectionalism that existed within the South.
McPherson, J. M. (1994). What they fought for 1861-1865. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. Paludan, P. S. (1981). Victims: A true story of the Civil War. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.