Alabama’s official outdoor musical drama is The Incident at Looney’s Tavern. According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the play is “based on the life of Christopher Sheat, a young Winston County school teacher and the coming of the Civil War. It tells the story of the hill people of Alabama who did not want to join the Confederacy and nearly created ‘The Free State of Winston.’”
In other words, after Alabama seceded from the Union, folks in Winston County wanted to secede from Alabama. The county’s residents were mainly poor farmers who were suspicious of the Confederacy; they feared it was merely a new political system designed to keep rich plantation owners in power. They were eerily similar to an earlier generation of farmers who revolted against George Washington, who was himself a rich, aristocratic landowner (and slave owner).
Ironically, Winston County was largely devastated by its own people.
The play was designated an official state symbol in 1993 but was discontinued about the end of the twentieth century. However, The Incident at Looney’s Tavern is a reminder that the Civil War was more complex than most people realize. Not all Southerners supported slavery or secession, nor did all who wanted to secede support slavery.