Much has been written about the Hatfield-McCoy feud, and some of it is surely true. The rest has to be viewed as myth, fiction, or outright lies. And unless clearly documented in court records and similarly reliable sources, it is often very difficult today to tell which is which. For example, there are multiple explanations for the nickname "Devil Anse." My personal favorite cites a Civil War battle in which Captain Anderson Hatfield led his men up a hill in the face of bullets raining down on them so thick that "no one but the Devil himself could have made it up that hill unscathed." The story has a ring of romantic fiction to it, but maybe if we keep telling it long enough it will turn out to be true.
The Hatfield-McCoy feud has become the archetype for the post-Civil War family clashes that broke out along the border states between the Union and the Confederacy. And while there are documented instances of extreme violence, it was by no means the most intense or biggest of them. For example, more people were killed in the Martin-Tolliver war in Rowan County, KY, where it has been reported that the danger was so great the town of Morehead lost nearly half its population as people fled the violence.