The mutineers were soldiers primarily recruited from New Orleans' large German and Irish immigrant populations. Pierson shows that the new nation (the Confederacy) had done nothing to encourage poor white men to feel they had aa place of honor in the new Southern Republic.
He argues that the mutineers actively sought to help the Union cause. In a major reassessment of the Union administration of New Orleans that followed, Pierson demonstrates that Union general Benjamin Butler enjoyed the support of many white Unionists in the city.
Pierson adds an urban working-class element to debates over the effects of white Unionists in Confederate states. With the personal stories o soldiers appearing throughout the book, "Mutiny at Fort Jackson" presents the Civil War from a different perspective, revealing the complexities of New Orleans society and the Confederate experience.