One area in which little research has been done is the subject of Confederate manpower. Many writers, often quite respected authors, rely on unsupported statements of Confederate strength which may be demonstrated to be inaccurate.
At the same time, Newton points out that estimates of Confederate numbers that have always been held up to ridicule -- in this case, the Pinkerton reports used by McClellan in May 1862 -- were right on the money. Pinkerton's agents infiltrated Confederate commissary operations and produced exact numbers of brigades, regiments, battalions and batteries under Joe Johnston's command. McClellan in turn used these counts to produce grossly inflated estimates of Confederate strength in order to badger President Lincoln into sending him more troops. Nevertheless, Pinkerton's list of units under Johnston's command was as good or better than reports being written by the Confederate War Department.
The statement about planter's looking down upon hill country farmers is based on a single statement made by a north Alabama father to a son who had just volunteered in Confederate service. Other than story-telling and popular opinion, there is no support for this. Prior to conscription, hill country counties in Alabama like Blount and Cherokee produced more volunteers than most Black Belt counties could boast. We might recall that Emma Sansom came from a hill country household, her older brothers being in Confederate service. After conscription went into effect, it was equally unpopular throughout Alabama, not just in the hill country.
As for support for the "old Flag", before the war these Alabama citizens were usually aligned with the Whig Party. Support for Whig candidates and Whig positions was always strongest in the Black Belt. In hill country counties it was hard to find anyone who would admit to being a Whig. For example, in the election of 1860, we are led to believe that the men of Winston County and their neighbors would have voted for an outspoken Union candidate like John Bell of Tennessee. In fact a majority of Winston County voters supported John C. Breckinridge, the Southern Rights Democrat. All anyone has to do is review county returns for the election of 1860.
Old veterans who had served under Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812 could still be found among hill country Democrats. Plus, older men normally favor conservative opinion rather than radical political solutions like secession. However, U.S. pension rolls suggest that by 1860 the number of older veterans was rapidly diminishing.
My wife's ancestor Madison Hendricks of St. Clair County remained an outspoken Unionist throughout the war. Before the war he was the postmaster in Branchville and a respected Baptist minister. Despite that his sons all volunteered for Confederate service, and by his own testimony to the Southern Claims Commission, his Branchville neighbors hotly resented his outspoke support for the 'Old Flag'.
Regardless of facts, people hang on to cherished beliefs, so I don't expect any of this to change anyone's thinking in the least.