/ History /
Re: Hatfield–McCoy feud
I’m writing about this as I learn it. The Civil War, which states were which in the 1860s is not my forte but the main thing relevant is my ancient forte: who has jurisdiction: the individual? the family? the state? which state? the President?
My grade school shoved the Hatfields & McCoys at us kids: my mind blocked all but the names: now I pursue it as I launch a stream of a TV series on the feud. I use wikipedia to steep myself a bit, do a little home work: and I’m astonished, I should have learned some of this long ago (though never through the school system: I want to know about God but not through any church or synagogue).
At the outset of this study I’d thought that the Hatfields & McCoys were a microcosm of the American Civil War:
the Civil War came to an end in 1865; the feud continued.
My metaphor may not be quite a custom fit but it has some merits.
The families were from states that were contiguous geographically but ambiguous on the issues of the war. The Hatfields were (mostly) on the “West Virginia” side of the Tug Fork river, West Virginia was not yet a state by the Civil War; the McCoys were (mostly) on the Kentucky side.
(Virginia was a slave state, one of the original seceders, a charter member of the Confederacy; West Virginia was a collection of counties not at one with Virginia, they aligned under the Union: in the war they were “Yankees”. But the Hatfields, who had some wealth in timber, fought on the Confederate side. Kentucky did not secede, neither was it a Confederate State. The Confederacy tried for it and failed: Lincoln tried for it and succeeded. Both states almost tilted south, then both, not at the same time, tilted north. Still, the McCoys, like the Hatfields, fought on the Confederate side. Federal politics were all churned. It was all Scots-Irish Appalachia: gun toters. Killing was manly, killing was biblical, killing was godly.
I really like the TV treatment as I watch more of it. In particular I love the casting: especially of the secondary characters, especially the women: what faces, what carriage, what bone structure!
Those are McCoy girls, I love Mrs. Hatfield too: the face, the jaw. She’s in the center, front row of the top pic, arm linked with Kevin Costner. There sure are more beautiful actresses than one can keep track of, what wealth.
Happens all the time when I write at the start of watching something, I make a balls of it, but that’s what I like to do, can’t stop myself.
I may not know Civil War history very well, may not be sure of which state did what, which family did what, but one thing here is right in my round house: who’s the boss? Papa? your self? some cop? the sheriff? the state? the fed? the White House? … God?
We all whimper and do mostly what we’re told; those Appelachians were ready on the trigger, they weren’t waiting for God to decide anything, or the sheriff.
The feud is a microcosm of lots of things: nepotism, stuff ballot boxes: the judge is a Hatfield. The jury is six / six, Hatfield / McCoy. My buddy Phil used to wish that the government was a Nazi and a Jew and a bull dyke … nobody agreeing on anything, nothing resolvable.
I really love this movie. The men are all armed, all the time. The bristle: with rifles, pistols, knives … rakes, hoes … fists, knuckles. It’s wonderful to me how they know when to punch, when to stab, when to draw and fire … How come there’s any population at all? Scene after scene, indoors: not only do the fellas keep their hats on, they keep their rifle in their hand, ready on an instant to draw a bead. They kill each other by the time they’re twenty-odd, yet somehow there are adults, the patriarchs are forty-five, fifty … Jeez, their women keep bearing. I love the portrayal of the females: they know when to lie down, when to take off their blouse, when to rub their hand against your britches. And Jeez, the scots irish genes of the cast!
How did the human population ever spread from Africa to the banks of Tug Fork? How did we stop killing each other? How did we band together and kill foreigners on foreign soil? kill long distance, kill in Afghanistan from a bunker in Nevada?
This is not my subject, not my field.
pk is a New Yorker who’s lived in the south for thirty-odd years now, exclusively in Florida since 1989. I’m a reb but not a Confederate reb: I’ve certainly never been a Unionist. Not only do I not believe in the fed, I don’t believe in New York, or Virginia. No state at any level, just guys with guns. It’s enemies, not me, who call me a Yank. I don’t swallow the usual tripe about the Civil War or about the north or about the south.
Oh, another thing I love: Several present quote “scripture”: others regularly tell them to watch their mouth! One guy elevates himself over others by acting as though God were on his side; the others finger their rifles, handle their knives, crack their knuckles. The early US must have been like that in more places than Appalachia. Lincoln used God in his quips occasionally, but mostly his real politik atheism is quite apparent: Jefferson too: most of them, Franklin. McCoy clearly references God when convenient, and forgets the rest of the time.
Ah, the good old days, sorry I never lived in them. Except: I never would have gotten to seventy-six.