•Charles River Editors’ original history of the Hatfield-McCoy feud
•Four contemporary stories about the feud
"They were men, who matched the mountains, they were Hatfields and McCoys. They were men, who matched the mountains. They were men, when they were boys." – Jimmy Wolford
The feud between the Hatfields and McCoys is the stuff of American legend and has become synonymous for vendettas. In fact, it has become its own term for any large scale disagreement and has made its way into everything from music to television and movies. Though the fighting took place over a century ago, Americans remain so fascinated by it that The History Channel’s 2012 miniseries about the feuding families set records for cable television ratings.
These days, the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys is a celebrated piece of American folklore, but for two families living along the West Virginia–Kentucky border during the last half of the 19th century, the feud was literally a matter of life and death. 21st century America might celebrate this relic of the country’s rural past, but modern society would also likely scoff at the idea of a couple of rural families taking pot shots at each other through the woods over slights as insignificant as a stolen pig. Nevertheless, for the Hatfields and McCoys, the feud was every bit as dangerous as a modern gang war or organized crime activity.
While the feud may be harder to understand today, it was a microcosm of other conflicts that shaped America’s destiny. First, it represents the heritage of the blood feud that came to the United States with those immigrating from Scotland and Ireland. The backcountry of the South was settled primarily by immigrants from the “Celtic fringe” of Great Britain: Scotland, Northern England, Cornwall, Wales, and Ireland. For these settlers, family ties were paramount; loyalty was key, and conflicts were settled with violence. The feud also demonstrated the continuing importance of honor in the South in the late 19th century, and a notion that personal honor should be defended against actual or perceived slights with violence. Clearly, the South’s code of honor persisted long after the Civil War, as did tension between supporters of the Union and the Confederacy.
The Hatfields and The McCoys Collection chronicles America’s most famous blood feud, from the origins of each family to the events that sparked the fighting. It includes an original history of about the feud, and four contemporary stories discussing the feud during the 19th century. This collection also includes a Table of Contents and pictures of important people, places, and events.