White Mansions is a 1978 album by various artists documenting the lives of white people in the Confederacy during the Civil War. The songs on the album were written by Paul Kennerley and are performed by Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, John Dillon and Steve Cash. Each singer took on a separate and distinct persona, portraying different characters in an attempt to show the Confederacy and the concept of "Southern pride" through said characters' eyes; in essence, therefore, White Mansions is a concept album. Eric Clapton played guitar on several tracks. The album charted at #38 on the Country Billboard chart and #181 on the Billboard 200.
The album was re-released in 1999 in a two-for-one package with The Legend of Jesse James, a 1980 concept album conceived by Kennerley.
The four main characters portrayed in the album are:
Matthew J. Fuller (played by John Dillon) – The 23-year-old son of a Southern cotton planter, he received a full education in college and military academy. When the Civil War begins, he joins the Confederate Armyinfantryregiment as a captain.
Polly Ann Stafford (played by Jessi Colter) – Matthew's significant other; at the start of the war, she begins working in a hospital, tending to wounded and dying soldiers.
Caleb Stone (played by Steve Cash) – Representing the stereotype of "white trash", Caleb is a man who possesses neither a permanent job nor his own property or land, opting instead for accepting random jobs requiring little skill. He detests the powerful plantation owners of the South and fights against the Union to "preserve his superiority over the blacks".
The Drifter (played by Waylon Jennings) – The Drifter is the album's narrator. His real name is not known, but the listener is told that was wounded fighting for Texas in the U.S.-Mexican War; during the Civil War, he doesn't participate in the fighting, traveling from town to town and commenting on the events that unfold instead.
In addition, a single brief track is performed by Rodena Preston's Voices of Deliverance credited as "The Slaves"; this, as is explained in the liner notes, is symbolic, in that, "despite the fact that they represented over a third of the population of the South, their voice was seldom heard".