Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful for the Civil War?

In this time of giving thanks - a good idea, but one that probably should be a year-around activity - the thought “I’m thankful for the Civil War” came to mind.

I immediately second-guessed myself - am I really thankful for a scourge (thank you Mr. Lincoln for that descriptive word) that led to 700,000 deaths and many more injuries and illnesses? Can I truly be thankful for such destruction and suffering?

I then naturally start the not unexpected debate with myself. Of course, I am extremely thankful for the abolition of American slavery. Of course, I am thankful for keeping the nation together, though that is more being thankful for the result than for the war. I am thankful that so many battlefields from the war are preserved and so many artifacts have survived. I am thankful that the Civil War is not just a forgotten page of the past. 

I am thankful for having something that fascinates me so much, gives me something to study and even to write about. I collect some Civil War items, as well as books. I’m thankful for that ability. I’m thankful to volunteer at a Civil War museum and with a new Civil War group.  I certainly appreciate the people I’ve met through Civil War related activities and experiences I have had. What would I be doing with my time if not for the many interesting aspects of the Civil War?

But can I really be “thankful” for a war? The elimination of slavery is the strongest point for saying yes, for I do not know when, how or even if it would have gone away without war and it’s elimination was a necessary step fo4 this nation. From that viewpoint, yes I am glad the war happened, but I still find it strange to say I’m thankful for such a destructive war. Is the immense benefit of freedom worth that absolutely awful price (even if that freedom was not instantaneous for too many people?) I have to say “yes,” but it still seems difficult to understand the concept of being thankful for something that required such horrific killing and destruction.

Early in the days of this blog, I wrote a post asking if the Civil War was a good thing  I suppose that this post is simply a re-wording of that question, but even 8 years later I have uncertainty in how exactly I want to answer it. Perhaps I will write about it again in the future. I am surely thankful for this platform on which I can ponder such issues.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sound Bites of History: The Gettysburg Address


I don’t know that I have anything new to say about this famous speech, but I felt it appropriate to publish it here again today. I have made a couple of entries on it over the years, and probably will do so again. How can someone write about the Civil War and not at least mention this speech? I can’t. It’s remarkable that such a short speech can be so powerful. 

Anyway, Lincoln obviously lived well before the current era of radio and television coverage and of political sound bites, but I’ve always thought of him as a master of sound bites in some weird sense. He produced many brief, but memorable phrases that would probably be sound bites if created today, and a few of them come from this brief speech. “Four score and seven years ago,” “all men are created equal,” “the world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here,” “new birth of freedom,”and “government of the people, by the people, for the people” are ones that stand out to me, even if not all were his original creations. He had many others in other speeches and writings, but these catch my attention in this speech (and I probably could add a couple more.)

I fully realize this is nothing original or earth-shattering, but I wanted to commemorate this short but powefrful speech today. Here is the Bliss copy of the speech, from the Abraham Lincoln Online site.

Bliss Copy
Ever since Lincoln wrote it in 1864, this version has been the most often reproduced, notably on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. It is named after Colonel Alexander Bliss, stepson of historian George Bancroft. Bancroft asked President Lincoln for a copy to use as a fundraiser for soldiers (see "Bancroft Copy" below). However, because Lincoln wrote on both sides of the paper, the speech could not be reprinted, so Lincoln made another copy at Bliss's request. It is the last known copy written by Lincoln and the only one signed and dated by him. Today it is on display at the Lincoln Room of the White House.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Book Review: Kentucky Rebel Town by William Penn

By William Penn
Copyright 2016
The University Press of Kentucky

As I review another book, I also review another study of Kentucky in the Civil War. That is certainly a topic that has dominated much of my recent Civil War reading. It has been an enjoyable and informative process - I look forward to finding more on this subject to explore.

Kentucky Rebel Town is a deeply-researched work concentrating on the north-central Kentucky town of  Cynthiana and its home of Harrison County. Using information found in many sources such as newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, census records and more, author Bill Penn demonstrates that this county and town offered more moral and military support for the Confederacy than did most of Kentucky, and though support for the Union cause also existed locally, Confederate sympathy was more prevalent, especially before Union troops occupied camps in the area. He makes a persuasive case that Cynthiana truly was a “Rebel Town,” using a wide variety of historical records to support his argument.

This book is well-written, without the distraction of proofreading or editing errors. It compares the Confederate support in Cynthiana to the rest of the state, using information like public events and voting records, as well as biographical information of important local citizens and leaders and the political positions they held. Many different local people and families are mentioned throughout the text, making this a good possible source of information for some genealogists. It also includes an impressive selection of photographs of key people and places discussed throughout the text. Such photographs are always good additions to books like this, and that is the case here.

Among the challenges the author faced when researching and writing this book was a lack of period maps of the area. He did, however, manage to create and include several helpful ones based on his understanding and interpretation of existing evidence and modern development in the area. He also frequently mentions names of modern roads among discussions of old roads where something occurred. This is a helpful part of his writing.

In addition to his interpretation for the maps, the author offers frequent analysis of evidence he found, such as determining the probable location of events, or identities of people when period records were not specific. Such explanations and interpretations of unclear evidence occur often in the book. This goes beyond the mere repeating of established facts and details and adds to the understanding of the events being discussed. This is a strong part of this book and the author’s writing.

This book is a valuable work on many fronts, but especially to people who are interested in Kentucky’s role in the Civil War, its reputation as a Confederate state, and even in-state politics during the war years, especially regarding reaction to Federal policies and occupation. It also provides a detailed look at both the 1862 and 1864 battles of Cynthiana and the fighting done by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, a key part of this work. Students of Morgan’s career or of Civil War cavalry raids will also find this book to be well worth the time.

The book’s organization is a very good and logical one. It includes end-notes and an informative section showing Union and Confederate Orders of Battle for both battles. Each chapter covers multiple related topics, but each also contains different specific sections for these topics. That helps the book flow more smoothly than books which do not break up chapters thusly, and makes it easier to read and understand. The order of the topics is also sensible, starting with the early war years, then the war and ending with a discussion of how local support of the Confederate cause did not end with the war. The author shows that some people regretted the war’s outcome. This organization makes the book even better. 

Overall, Bill Penn’s Kentucky Rebel Town is a fine book, a well-investigated and detailed discussion of how one Kentucky town and county offered more sympathy for the Confederate cause than did most of the state, especially early in the war, It also provides a good overview of the battles of Cynthiana and John Hunt Morgan’s performance in those contests. I find this book to be a terrific addition to the existing studies of Kentucky in the Civil War era and gladly recommend it to fellow Civil War enthusiasts and others interested in Kentucky history.

Location of Cynthiana, courtesy 

Note: The author is a member of the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation group. I am a member of the same group and have met him multiple times. I have tried not to allow this to influence my review, but I thought I should share this information with readers. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Postcard From the Past: Reunion of the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

I recently acquired this neat old postcard and after discussing it with a friend who is interested in the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (9th OVI), decided to look at it more closely and discuss it here.

The unused card is in far from mint condition, but is still in good enough shape to be readable. It is unlike any other postcard I have or have even seen, and certainly different than what modern postcards show. Both the image and the amount of text on it are different than today’s cards.

It is not a surprise that this group had a 50 year reunion of their mustering into the army. People have always liked reunions and this occurred during the age of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and other groups of former soldiers. Civil War veterans were quickly aging or passing away, so events like this were not uncommon. It is cool that they took this picture with these honorees, but turning it into a postcard seems a strange thing to do, though as a lover of history,  I’m glad they did and that it has survived the past century.

The card shows the men standing in front of a hard-to-see background, apparently a sign or banner, which includes the event name as well as a listing of the unit’s battles, much like regimental flags showed. It does look like somebody wrote in some letters to complete words that may have been hidden behind the men.

The following two lines appear at the top of the background image:
Nor shall their glories be forgot,
While fame the record keeps. 

These lines are a slight rewording of two lines from the poem “Bivouac of the Dead” (written by
Kentuckian Theodore O’Hara after the Mexican War.) They also are similar to lines I’ve seen on various GAR postcards, naturally focusing on the courage, victories and patriotism of those being honored.

The men are wearing dark suits, each with ribbons on them. The ribbons likely were specifically made for this reunion, as such decorations were popular at events like this.

None of the three men featured the long, thick facial hair that many Civil War soldiers wore fifty years previously, but perhaps it was not coincidental that the safety razor had been patented just a decade before this reunion.

I really like that it includes the names and ages of the three veterans. So many old pictures have survived without identification on them, so it is great that this one fortunately is different. It is truly cool to have such facts included with the image.

Seeing the men’s names listed here naturally made me curious about them. I have been able to find out a few details about their lives and service

Frank E Kaiser was born June 6, 1843 in Germany. He enlisted in Company C of the 9th Ohio on January 1, 1864 as a private. He was discharged, still a private, on June 7, 1864, when the unit’s 3-year term of service expired. He may have also been in the 1st U.S. Veteran Volunteer Engineer Corps, at least according to the National Park Service’s Soldiers and Sailors list of Civil War soldiers. If so, his correct discharge date was apparently September 2, 1865 when that unit was mustered out. He died on January 14, 1928 and was buried in the Vine Street Hill Cemetery in Cincinnati.

Gerhard Ferber was a corporal when he joined Company F of this unit on April 22, 1861, in the aftermath of the firing on Fort Sumter and beginning of the war. This was when the regiment mustered in at Camp Harrison, before reorganizing as a 3-year unit at Camp Dennison. Ferber was apparently one of the original members of this unit, which at first had too many volunteers as it organized in the midst of a great patriotic fervor. He still was a corporal when he mustered out with
the regiment 3 years later. He had been born on September 29, 1820 in Germany and passed away May 31, 1917 in Cincinnati, where he was interred in Spring Grove Cemetery.

Henry Spaeth enlisted in  Company C of the  9th OVI on May 27, 1861. He earned promotion to 2nd Lieutenant on in September 1, 1862 and perhaps changed companies at that time, to Company D.  He earned further promotion to 1st Lieutenant in February 1864 and was discharged with the rest of the regiment on June 7, 1864. He had been born December 25, 1838 in Wertenburgh, passed away on March 23, 1922 and was buried in River View Cemetery in Aurora, Indiana. He also was  a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

The phrase “Cumberland’s Iron Brigade” at the bottom is especially intriguing. I had not heard it before and asked for some help with it. Thanks again to social media, a friend found that this appears to have been a post-War nickname, possibly self-given by regimental members to make them seem as tough as the men of the famous Iron Brigade of the Army of the Potomac. This is based on an remark and note in the book We Were the Ninth: A History of the Ninth Regiment, Ohio Voluntary Infantry, April 17, 1861, to June 7, 1864, by Constantin Grebner, translated and edited by Frederic Trautmann (1987).

The 9th OVI was a nearly all-German regiment recruited in Cincinnati, apparently the same city where their reunion took place in 1911. Here is another picture from that reunion, from a regimental history site. That site has much more detailed information on this entire unit and its history than this entry will describe.

The book Cincinnati Germans in the Civil Wartranslated by Don Tolzmann discusses this unit briefly and here are a couple more sites that have some good information on this unit.

I never know what will attract my interest about the Civil War or specific pieces of it. In this case, it was a bent-up, torn old postcard that caught my attention and turned it one of the fascinating local units of the war. I’m sure I’ll start paying more att3ntion in the future when I see references to the brave men of the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as well as to other postcards I happen to see.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Book Review: Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion

Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion 
Author: Harold Holzer
Copyright 2014
Simon & Schuster

Abraham Lincoln fathered many famous quotes, speeches and lines. Among the most well-known is his claim that "In this age, in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.”

In Lincoln and the Power of the Press, author and Lincoln historian Harold Holzer explores how the nation's sixteenth President acted upon this belief and how his feelings and actions on this belief compared to those of other politicians and journalists during the years before and of the Civil War.

In number of pages (over 500), this is a long book, but the writing style and smooth flow make it a quicker read than it appears. It is a well-researched and well-written book, with a lot of information on many individuals as well as society at the time. It includes endnotes and many photographs of people mentioned throughout the text, as well as images of period political cartoons about these men. The book consists of two sections, “the drumbeat of the nation” and “uncivil wars,” basically prewar and wartime sections, a logical arrangement for this topic.

Holzer’s book is a comprehensive look at how important newspapers were in the mind (and career) of Abraham Lincoln and how Lincoln spent his entire political career, from its humble origins in Springfield all the through his term in Congress and the Presidency, cultivating and maintaining his relationships with a wide variety of editors and reporters for many publications, especially, but not only, politically-friendly papers. His rivalry with Stephen Douglas included fighting for the type of coverage Douglas received in the press. This book goes on to show how Lincoln eventually received all the attention he craved and more, both positive and negative, and how he managed relationships with the newspapers and newspapermen to try to shape public opinion.

The author further demonstrates that Lincoln was far from alone in this desire, as many politicians and journalists in this era shared Lincoln’s belief in the “power of the press” and, in fact, many journalists aspired to become politicians, or at least benefit from the support of career policy makers. The stories of Horace Greeley and Henry Raymond especially illustrate this point.

This work explores the personalities and careers of the most powerful and influential editors of the day, focusing largely on Horace Greeley, James Gordon Bennett, and Henry Raymond, the operators of the New York Tribune, Herald and Times respectively, though other editors also had influence. The comparison of Lincoln and Greeley’s backgrounds and communication styles and abilities is an interesting secondary tale in this work.

A general overview of the operations of the newspaper business of the era is a key piece of of Holzer’s book. This includes the large number of newspapers that ambitious men started throughout these years, how technology in printing (faster presses) and method of receiving news (telegraphs, railroads, use of ships) made the war between papers more intense as they rushed to best each other with fresh scoops. It also describes how editors used different sized and priced newspapers and new sales methods to increase sales. The development of news sharing services like the Associated Press was another step forward in the business. This work also discusses other aspects of the business, such as how and why the population and money center of New York was the home of the biggest early newspapers. For those who sense an “east coast media bias,” perhaps in the coverage of modern sports, this book gives a glance at how such a focus on the east developed.

In addition to demonstrating how Lincoln and other politicians desired attention from the press, this work describes how they tried to control much of that coverage. Lincoln, for instance, secretly owned part of a German language newspapers in the late 1850s, and other politicians financially assisted journals that supported them editorially. Lincoln also frequently visited local newspaper offices to meet and talk with the editors, especially in small Illinois towns. Of course, by the end of his career, it was the editors and reporters who sought to visit Lincoln for attention instead of the other way around.

Lincoln also wrote anonymous articles and editorials for various newspapers. Holzer retells how Lincoln almost ended up in a duel due to such an anonymous piece, but also describes how the future President continued to submit unsigned works to newspapers even when in the land’s highest office, perhaps one of the lesser-known aspects of his career.

He wrote private letters to editors as replies to some of their critical commentaries, but was especially effective with the public letters he sent to these journals, such as his response to Greeley or his Conklin letter. A good summary of Lincoln’s attempts to manage such coverage occurs on page 474:  “Lincoln was never more successful in controlling the newspapers than when he wrote the newspaper copy himself.” This was one way Lincoln used the press to help mold public opinion instead of relying on the editors’ words and opinions.

Civil liberties, including freedom of the press and free speech, are another common topic of Civil War studies, with debate on how such freedoms were handled during these years, especially in the North. Holzer explores various newspaper suppression and censorship issues during the war, showing how some times, such as immediately after the first Battle of Bull Run, witnessed a higher amount of suppression, but other times, such as before the fall 1862 elections, saw fewer such instances. He discusses occasions when Lincoln may have been able to step in and help editors or newspapers more than he did, but also times when perhaps the Union policy (and thus Lincoln’s) was more lenient than it could have been. Lincoln often allowed his military leaders to do as they thought necessary, with the more successful generals having more leeway than others, but also took his own actions of suppression when he thought it necessary.. Holzer strongly shows that there really was not one clear, definite and consistent policy on what would be allowed or prohibited, which made it difficult for editors to know what they could publish safely. It was a difficult time for newspapers, especially those opposed to the war and/or the administration, as well as for the government which tried to balance freedoms with security and giving aid or relief to the enemy, many of whom lived in Union states. This book  also discusses instances of similar censorship in the South, showing it was not just an issue for Lincoln and the Union side. The whole concept of  “civil war” made this issue difficult to handle and this book impressively illuminates those difficulties.

The book concludes by discussing newspaper coverage of the bloody fighting in 1864 and that fall’s presidential campaign. The integration of politics and press was never more obvious than during this time when newspapermen Henry Raymond and Augustus Belmont presided over the National Union and Democratic national conventions. The pessimism that Lincoln and his supporters, including those in the media, felt was a major sentiment of this time and Holzer makes a keen observation when he notes the irony that that much of the press’ pessimism disappeared after Atlanta was captured – by William T. Sherman, a well-known hater of reporters and newspapers

This is a fascinating book, going into many more details than this review can cover, and is definitely a valuable part of any Civil War or Abraham Lincoln library. It is one that I honestly wish I had read sooner, but am glad to have done so now. This is a highly enjoyable, informative, and recommended book.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: Kentucky Raider by George Karvel, Ph.D

Author: George R. Karvel, PH.D.
copyright 2016
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

The subject of my next book review is another book that discusses Kentucky in the Civil War. Even though this volume is not specifically about Kentucky, the story it tells is of a Kentuckian and of raids and battles throughout the Commonwealth, focusing on the raids of famous Confederate General, and Kentuckian, John Hunt Morgan.

Commodore Perry (C.P.) Snell, the great-great grandfather of the author joined the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, under Morgan's command, in mid-1862. He served for the next three years, surviving Morgan's Christmas Raid, Great Raid and Last Kentucky Raid, as well as two instances of being captured. He was able to escape his captors and return to his unit both times, though his name confused Federal soldiers who thought "Commodore" was a title not a name. Snell apparently provided a false name as "Charles P. more than once, perhaps to avoid this confusion. His name shows up as this "nom de guerre" in more than one official U.S. form. (The author does a good job of explaining the background of Snell's name and how the original Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry had inspired people to name children, including C.P. Snell, in his honor, early in the book.)

This book briefly describes each of the raids in which Snell took part. It is not an in-depth look at the details of these invasions, but that is not its goal. The synopses the author provides of these raids do give good  background information about Snell's experiences and make this book better.

The book is well-written and organized. I did not notice any proofreading errors and the writing style was very readable. It is a quick, informative work.

After discussing Morgan's capture in 1864, the book reaches the heart of this story, the order book that Morgan had captured from Union General Edward Hobson the day before his (Morgan's) capture. It then publishes each entry from this book. Most are short, usually a sentence or two, which makes for rather choppy reading, but this provides real examples of how such officers wrote their orders. Additionally, the author adds good descriptions for these orders. These clarifications explain the orders and the military situations. This was a very helpful and valuable part of the book, adding an understanding of what the officers were doing and why.

Karvel addresses Snell's military career and his parole at the end of the war,  and then describes  Snell's post war life as much as surviving evidence allows. He tells that Snell found a new love interest during the war, despite already being married, and how he soon divorced his wife when he returned home. He notes that 1870 census records and Snell's will show that Snell had enjoyed good financial success and discusses how this may have happened. He mentions some rumors and family stories that may explain Snell's prosperity, as no official revere seems to provide answers. This was an unexpected and fascinating section of this book.

The book includes footnotes listing sources and six appendices of background information on Snell's family history and family military background, a glossary of terms and other information. It also features several helpful maps at appropriate places in the text.

This book is a good, quick read and recounts an interesting story about the captured order book, what information it contained and how it came to the author's family. Morgan and his raids are popular topics for books and discussion, but George Karvel has found a new story to tell about this part of Kentucky's Civil War history. I gladly recommend this book.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Book Review: Wild Wolf: The Great Civil War Rivalry

Author: Ronald Wolford Blair
Copyright 2015
Acclaim Press
Kentucky in and after the Civil War is a topic that has really caught my attention in recent years, and several books I have read and reviewed have added to my understanding of that era in my home state.

That is true of my latest finished book, Ronald Wolford Blair's Wild Wolf: The Great Civil War Rivalry,  about the author's great-great uncle, Union Colonel Frank Wolford of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry, a.k.a. The "Wild Riders."

Serving as a biography of the author's ancestor, the book starts by featuring the story of Wolford's military career, especially his many dealings with famous Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, before moving onto discussions of Wolford's polical and social beliefs and how he clashed with the goals and actions of President Abraham Lincoln.

The detailed overview of Wolford's military career iincludes his accomplishments as a leader and discusses how his folksy leadership style and manner of giving orders helped him earn his men's admiration. He was certainly no martinet, but earned his men's respect with his manners and fair discipline. His troops fought throughout eastern and central Kentucky and northern Tennessee, including clashes against Morgan's men, before embarking on a long chase of the famed Confederate during his "Great Raid" of 1863. After helping capture Morgan and many of his men, Wolford's troopers fought in the East Tennessee campaign, including the Siege of Knoxville, where they dealt with the usual trials of combat as well as the rugged terrain and bitterly cold weather.

As the war moved into the middle of 1864, the story transitions to one of Wolford's political battles and arrests, as the author describes in great detail Wolford's disputes with the Lincoln administration especially his opposition to emancipation and the use of African-American soldiers. Blair also shows how Wolford fought for civil liberties (particularly his own) such as free speech and speedy trials. Wolford was blunt, forthright and honest in his speeches and letters, not caring to whom his remarks were made or know they might be interpreted as aiding the enemy or hurting the Union cause. These political battles started late in the war and continued in the post-war years as he tried to help return life to how it was in ante-bellum days, particularly in the racial hierarchy in Kentucky society. The book frequently notes that Wolford's attitudes and opposition represented those of a majority of Kentuckians at the time.

Wolford was an intense and determined soldier and showed the same traits in his non-military fights as well, though he kept his focus solely on events in Kentucky. He may not have appreciated the progress the Union war effort had made nation-wide in 1864 and felt that a re-election of Lincoln would lead to more years of bloodshed. Wolford was, understandably, primarily concerned with the situation in his home state and area ("all politics is local" so goes the cliche) and strongly supported George McClellan in the 1864 election because of the way Steven Burbridge and the Lincoln administration were treating Wolford and his fellow Kentuckians.

This work is another valuable look at the complicated, twisted history of Kentucky in and immediately after the Civil War, showing that even a man who made personal and physical sacrifices to help preserve the Union also expressed many sentiments that clashed with his own government in terms of the treatment of slavery and African-Americans as well as interpretation of Constitutional rights and responsibilities. He focused on the civil rights of white Kentuckians, men and women.

The story in Wild Wolf is  similar to the one told in For Slavery and Union, describing how an individual soldier could fight for the Union but end up opposing some of the Union's political goals. It explores Wolford's political career after the war, as he served as a lawyer, state representative, Congressman and held other official positions as he tried to restore the pre-war social order. He also helped veterans and their families receive government pensions decades after the war.

This book is a good study, certainly informative and a great addition to my library, but it is not perfect. The proofreading could have been better, as several grammatical of punctuation mistakes, misspellings and missing words are evident throughout the text. None were huge deals by themselves, but they were minor distractions and there were enough of them that each reminded me that I had seen others previously.

Also, the writing at times seemed to jump around from one topic to another and the flow was not always as smooth as it could have been. Perhaps breaking the chapters down in sections might have helped this, though the complicated nature of Wolford's life, career and rivalry with Morgan is a difficult story to tell and there is much more good than bad in this book.

Despite my nitpicking, this is a fine book. It does include endnotes and has two large sections of appropriate photographs and maps, which add much to the work. The research that went into this volume is impressive and the amount of material it covers is equally so.The book also includes three appendices publishing Wolford's most controversial speeches and his letter to Lincoln. These were smart additions to this volume.

I am pleased to have read this book and do recommend it to Civil War students, especially those interested in Kentucky, cavalry, John Hunt Morgan and/or political dissent on the Union side of the war. It is a good study of a mostly unheralded and unknown cavalry officer and influential political figure in the native state of both Civil War Presidents, showing another example of the complex and confusing nature of war and politics in Civil War-era Kentucky.