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Severance, Ben H. 1966–

Severance, Ben H. 1966–


Born 1966. Education: University of Washington, B.A., 1998; Clemson University, M.A., 1995; University of Tennessee, Ph.D., 2002.


Office—Department of History, Auburn University at Montgomery, P.O. Box 244023, Montgomery, AL 36124-4023. E-mail—[email protected]


Pellissippi State Technical Community College, Knoxville, TN, instructor, 2000-02; University of Tennessee, Knoxville, adjunct history instructor, 2002-05; Auburn University, Montgomery, AL, assistant professor, 2005—. Military service: U.S. Army Chemical Corps, 1988-92, became lieutenant; served in Operation Desert Storm, 1990-91.


Southern Historical Association, Society of Civil War Historians, Alabama Historical Association, Phi Alpha Theta.


Tennessee's Radical Army: The State Guard and Its Role in Reconstruction, 1867-1869, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 2005.

Assistant editor, Correspondence of James K. Polk, 2002-05. Author of articles for scholarly journals, including Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Alabama Review, American Nineteenth Century History, and the Civil War Book Review.


Ben H. Severance is a history professor and former U.S. Army officer who specializes in military and Civil War history. His first book is Tennessee's Radical Army: The State Guard and Its Role in Reconstruction, 1867-1869. The Tennessee state guard was a militia formed by Republican Governor William Gannaway Brownlow to enforce the policies of Reconstruction; its 2,000 members included 500 recently freed African Americans. The Brownlow administration was comprised of former Union sympathizers, including Brownlow himself, who were opposed by many factions within the formerly Confederate state. The militia was deployed to quell any remaining civil unrest, protect the administration, combat the Ku Klux Klan, and to monitor elections that might be undermined by Confederate sympathizers. Charges of violence against the "radical militia" (as some called it) were true to some degree, Severance admits, as well as the belief that Brownlow saw the troops as his own private army. But with Reconstruction failing nationwide, the guard was deactivated in 1869. The Democrats soon regained control of the state government, and the immediate postwar period came to a close. Severance believes if Brownlow had left the militia intact longer and allowed its aggressive agenda to be fulfilled, Reconstruction might have taken hold and changed the course of postwar American history. Critics appreciated Severance's book. Robert Sawrey wrote in History: Review of New Books that it "is an important addition to an understanding of the real constraints that those who supported Reconstruction encountered."



American Historical Review, June, 2006, Robert Tracy McKenzie, review of Tennessee's Radical Army: The State Guard and Its Role in Reconstruction, 1867-1869, p. 841.

Civil War History, September, 2007, Derek W. Frisby, review of Tennessee's Radical Army, p. 316.

History: Review of New Books, fall, 2005, Robert Sawrey, review of Tennessee's Radical Army, p. 12.

Journal of Military History, April, 2006, review of Tennessee's Radical Army, pp. 518-519.

Journal of Southern History, November, 2006, G. Ward Hubbs, review of Tennessee's Radical Army, p. 961.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2005, review of Tennessee's Radical Army.

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