Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Event: Wild Wolf and the Great Rivalry of the Civil War

On June 12, the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum where I volunteer will proudly host the following  event. Please see our press release and publicity information provided by the publisher. 


RON BLAIR and his new book:  Wild Wolf—The Great Civil War Rivalry
JUNE 12, 2016; 1:00 PM
Entry Fee is $5 ($4 for Museum Members)

The book provides an in-depth look at the rise and fall of one of Kentucky’s greatest cavalry commanders, and helps the reader understand the volatile political atmosphere in Kentucky during 1864-65, during which time Wolford was arrested for speaking out against the policies of President Abraham Lincoln.

Our basement book sale will also be open from 12:00 to 5:00
The Basement Book Sale features over 1,000 non-fiction Civil War histories, biographies, and other military books. We also have classic fiction and historical fiction books. Cash or Check only please!

Questions call Kathleen Romero 859-331-2499



Synopsis: “Wild Wolf and the Great Rivalry of the Civil War”
Biography of Col. Frank Lane Wolford, Cavalry Commander of the First Kentucky 
Author: Ronald Wolford Blair 
 Today, only a few scholars are familiar with the name Col. Frank Lane Wolford. However, 150 years ago this man was nationally known and in powerful oration, perhaps unwittingly, nearly changed the face of this country. 

 He had high cheekbones, an eagle like beak of a nose, his hair was black as coal, and he had piercing gray eyes. He had the stature and the resemblance of a wise Cherokee Chief. He was five feet eleven inches tall and 180 pounds and at the age of 47 he had a powerful build. Wounded seven times he fought in over 300 battles and skirmishes. He was deeply loved and respected by his men and was known for his generosity. Some “red tape” Union military leaders considered his style too independent and irregular. The Wild Riders, many of them wild mountain men themselves, understood his homespun commands and obeyed him. His antithesis, the aristocratic rebel raider, John Hunt Morgan considered “Wild Wolf” the most feared and most dreaded Union Cavalry Commander to meet on the field of battle. Strangely, they had a deep respect for each other. Both Cavalry Commanders were proud of their fine spirited Kentucky steeds. 

Both Kentucky regiments were known for being hard riding and daring Cavaliers. Wolford’s Cavalry was famously known for riding the finest thoroughbred mounts in the Bluegrass. During the “Lebanon Races” and “The Great Chase” both man and beast were challenged for stamina and endurance. 

Most every Civil War engagement in Kentucky and in the mountains of East Tennessee are detailed in this nearly 500 page book, including 120 maps and illustrations. This is a story about Wolford’s military and political rivalry during the war and his political rivalry that continued post-war. The First Kentucky Cavalry was the oldest Union Kentucky Cavalry in the war. 

 On March 10, 1864, in front of a packed audience at the Melodeon Hall in Lexington, the battle scarred warrior, lawyer, and politician, Colonel Wolford, commander of the First Kentucky Cavalry, stepped onto the dais to accept a jeweled sword. Distinguished Kentuckians, including Governor Bramlette were present to honor Wolford for his patriotic war effort, and especially for his role in capturing his nemesis, Morgan after the 1,000 mile Great Chase. 

But after accepting the sword the Kentucky Colonel grasped the opportunity to launch a lengthy diatribe condemning the Lincoln Administration over black enlistment and civil rights violations. The majority of Kentucky white citizens were exasperated at the thought of arming former slaves but most feared arrest or death if they dared open protest. Largely influenced by Wolford’s bold protests, Kentucky strongly considered a war against the federal government. This could have changed the political environment given the fact that it was a presidential election year. 

If Kentucky had left the Union in early 1864 the voters might have moved more toward compromise. Wolford was the presidential elector for Kentucky representing Lincoln’s opponent McClellan. Lincoln had Wolford arrested and brought before him in Washington. This work covers Wolford’s life during the entire Civil War. 

The “Wild Wolf” story has a lovely ending. The author is the great-great nephew of Col. Wolford. Ronald Wolford Blair was a contributing author of “Kentucky’s Civil War 1861-1865” that won a Governor’s Award and also contributed to “Kentucky Rising” by Dr. James A. Ramage and Andrea S. Watkins. Blair has been published in several magazines and newspapers, contributed to scholarly publications, and has lectured at various Civil War round tables and Historical Societies. 


Comments from James C. Klotter, Kentucky State Historian and Professor of History, Georgetown College 

Ronald Wolford Blair has rescued from the dim mists of almost forgotten history, the career of a soldier who has deserved more than history has given him. Colonel Frank Wolford, commander of the Wild  Riders of the Union First Kentucky Cavalry, fought bravely across the South and, most famously, he and his men had a long-running rivalry with fellow Kentuckian John Hunt Morgan and his Confederate 
raiders. During the conflict, each man, in fact, captured the other. But this is more than a military tale of heroism. It is also an account of the struggles of a Kentucky that wanted both union and slavery. When the controversial Wolford could not reconcile those two as the war went on and spoke out against the administration, he would be arrested, dismissed from the service, and briefly imprisoned. Later he would serve in Congress. Solidly researched, well illustrated, and clearly written, Wild Wolf reminds us, once again, that many important lives have too long remained untold and have just needed someone to chronicle them. At last, one of those exciting and significant stories has been told. Wolford has found his biographer. 

1 comment:

  1. I plan on being there! The 1st KY Cav is an interesting outfit and I hope to learn a bit about this unit.


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