Tried Men and True, or Union Life in Dixie highlights in emotional detail the local tensions between Unionists and Confederates in the Civil War South and offers a rare first-person account of the guerrilla war that devastated Western Tennessee.
Thomas Jefferson Cypert (1827-1918) was a staunch Union man of Wayne County, Tennessee. In 1863, he helped organize the Second Tennessee Mounted Infantry, a regiment of loyalist Southerners enlisted to combat Confederate cavalry in West Tennessee and Northern Alabama. Tried Men and True is Cypert’s memoir of his time as Captain of Company A, including his capture by Confederate cavalry and subsequent daring escape, in which he was aided by local Union sympathizers and slaves.
After the Civil War, Cypert served two terms in the Tennessee State Senate, one of them during the heated first years of Reconstruction, when Tennessee disenfranchised former rebels and attempted to establish Unionist Republican rule in the state. Cypert clearly wrote his memoir to defend Unionism, condemn secession and rebellion, and support loyalists’ claims for post-war power through an account of their wartime sacrifices. Never before published, the manuscript has been preserved in nearly perfect condition by Cypert’s descendants over the generations. This book is a remarkable and engagingly written account of resistance to the Confederacy by a group of southwestern Tennessee loyalists.