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The Civil War scene in Kentucky, site of few full-scale battles, was one of crossroad skirmishes and guerrilla terror, of quick incursions against specific targets and equally quick withdrawals. Yet Kentucky was crucial to the military strategy of the war. For either side, a Kentucky held secure against the adversary would have meant easing of supply problems and an immeasurably stronger base of operations. The state, along with many of its institutions and many of its families, was hopelessly divided against itself. The fiercest partisans of the South tended to be doubtful about the wisdom of secession, and the staunchest Union men questioned the legality of many government measures. What this division meant militarily is made clear as Lowell H. Harrison traces the movement of troops and the outbreaks of violence. What it meant to the social and economic fabric of Kentucky and to its postwar political stance is another theme of this book. And not forgotten is the life of the ordinary citizen in the midst of such dissension and uncertainty.

"A vivid treatment of the Civil War in Kentucky."--Filson Club History Quarterly

"A compact, judicious account of Kentucky in the war."--Journal of American History

"This book deals exclusively with Kentucky during the Civil War and is one of the most concise books on a subject that is oftentimes bypassed by Civil War historians."--Leatherneck

"This book is sharp as a tack—well researched, condensed, and eminently readable."--Lexington Herald-Leader

"A crisp, concise, well-written study of a state thrust into a unique wilderness by the secession crisis."--North Carolina Historical Review

Specialists in Kentucky Civil War history should be delighted with the concise, balanced interpretations and sound conclusions."--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Harrison explores the complexities of the conflict in Kentucky and why the state played such a crucial role in shaping the political, socioeconomic and military aspects of the war."--Kentucky Monthly

"The Bluegrass State was torn in two by battling ideologies. At first, Kentucky was able to maintain its neutrality, offering neither side its soldiers or allegiance. In late summer 1861, the Civil War came to Kentucky,. And there was little doubt that the prevailing sentiment was Unionist."--Book Bit, WTBF-AM/FM

"Dr. Harrison has done yeoman work in showing the myriad records of families whose ancestors claim to have passed on tales of the Civil War. Kith and kin at family gatherings keep alive this most important era of America. To delete this period from Kentucky history leaves little for historians to discuss. Any futile attempt to improve on the UK Press and Dr. Harrison’s literary work wastes the time of historians." --James Allison Jones, Bits and Pieces (Hardin Co. Historical Society)

"This book should be on everyone's library. . . . Harrison thoroughly investigates the consequences of Kentucky's division on the lives of ordinary citizens, providing important information about the roles that civilians played in detemining the direction of the Civil War in the state."--Northern Kentucky Heritage

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Civil War, United States, Kentucky


Military History

The Civil War in Kentucky
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