Photographic book

American Civil War (1861-1865)


Albert Sidney Johnston
Albert Sidney Johnston

The failure of Crittenden’s compromise presaged the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861-1865) in April. Kentucky’s governor, Beriah Magoffin, refused both the Union’s and the Confederacy’s call for volunteers. In May the state legislature resolved that Kentucky would take no part in the fighting, and Magoffin issued a proclamation declaring the state to be neutral in the conflict. Because of the state’s strategic location, neither side fully respected Kentucky’s neutrality. Recruiters from both the Union and the Confederacy enlisted Kentuckians. First the Confederacy, then the Union, began moving troops into the state. Throughout the war Kentucky remained at the mercy of the occupying armies.

The first major battle of the war in Kentucky, the Battle of Mill Springs or Logan’s Crossroads, fought at Nancy in January 1862, resulted in a Confederate defeat. Then, late in the summer of 1862, Confederate forces embarked on a bold campaign to take Kentucky. They pushed northward and westward into the state from central Tennessee and defeated Union Army troops at Richmond and Munfordville. However, the main Confederate advance was halted at Perryville on October 8, 1862. The Battle of Perryville, also known as the Battle of Chaplin Hills, was the bloodiest engagement in the state’s history. More than 7,600 casualties were counted. No other large-scale battles took place in the state, although raids by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan gained much notice. During the later years of the war, guerrilla bands, including the notorious group led by Captain William Quantrill, made sporadic raids in Kentucky.

In November 1861, without legal sanction, supporters of the Confederacy met at Russellville and passed an act of secession, declaring Kentucky to be a Confederate state. This action was recognized by the Confederacy but not by the Union. The state was a star in both flags. Throughout the war, Kentuckians remained divided in their loyalties to North and South. A total of about 100,000 Kentuckians, including more than 20,000 blacks, joined the Union Army, while about 40,000 residents joined the Confederate forces. A number of native Kentuckians played a prominent role in the Civil War. Besides the opposing presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, Confederate Generals John Bell Hood and Albert Sidney Johnston had both been born in Kentucky. Kentucky was the only state represented in the cabinets of both the Union and Confederate governments: James Speed was the Union attorney general, and John Cabell Breckinridge was the Confederate secretary of war. "Kentucky" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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