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Contested Borderland: The Civil War in Appalachian Kentucky and Virginia Hardcover – March 31, 2006


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Contested Borderland: The Civil War in Appalachian Kentucky and Virginia + Confederate Outlaw: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (March 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813123895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813123899
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #807,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Winner of the James I. Robertson Literary Prize" --



"The Civil War in southern Appalachia has received considerable scholarly analysis over the past few years, but until now there has been surprisingly little attention directed toward central Appalachia, which was fully significant militarily and suffered just as great a social and economic upheaval as did any part of the mountain South. Brian D. McKnight does much to fill that gap with his comprehensive new study of the war as experienced along the border of southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky. McKnight adeptly juggles the military, social, and political complexities of this border war in a meticulously documented and often compelling narrative." -- American Historical Review



"Comprehensive.... McKnight adeptly juggles the military, social, and political complexities of this border war in a meticulously documented and often compelling narrative." -- W



"This book makes a major contribution to the study of the Civil War in the mountain South by... [keeping] clear both the big picture and its smaller components. Contested Borderland' s integration of campaign histories with the social chaos and civilian suffering initiated by those campaigns has made for a very valuable study." -- Appalachian Journal



"McKnight shines a bright analytical light on mist-shrouded mountaintops, into darkened hollows, and along meandering creeks to illuminate the reasons why, from the earliest days of the war, commanders of both armies sought to recruit soldiers from among the region's insular and clannish population." -- Civil War Roundtable of DC Newsletter



"Engaging and eminently readable.... A compelling account of an isolated world turned upside down by a war fought over issues few of its residents understood or cared much about." -- Civil War Times



"A revealing and richly diverse account of the war in this too-neglected pocket of the South." -- Daniel E. Sutherland, editor of Guerrillas, Unionists, and Violence on the Confederate Home Front



"Contested Borderland, Brian D. McKnight's well-researched narrative, represents one of the best recent, comprehensive examinations of the Civil War era in the mountain highlands of Kentucky and Virginia.... I recommend [it] to all serious Civil War scholars and enthusiasts." -- Journal of American History



"McKnight's work has much to offer in covering the war in the Central Appalachian Divide and in explaining why this region's inhabitants choose their respective allegiances." -- Journal of East Tennessee History



"Amply supplies the reader with an enjoyable and informational read that attempts to bridge a gap in Civil War history." -- Journal of Military History



"Written in a clear and accessible style, this book will appeal to both general and scholarly readers. This book is essential for all Appalachian regional and Civil War collections." -- Journal of Southern History



"McKnight's book is an important contribution to the cumulative work of many other scholars who have explored the Civil War in Appalachia for the past two decades. His work adds to the geographic breadth and the thematic complexity of our collective understanding of the subject." -- North Carolina Historical Review



"Through firsthand accounts and original military documents, McKnight portrays a self-sustained population forced into a conflict from which they perceived they had little to gain and much to lose." -- Northern Kentucky Heritage



"McKnight deserves praise for his effort to shed light on the long-neglected war in the mountains." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society



"Addresses an often-overlooked border conflict." -- WTBF Radio



"Contested Borderland is the first detailed study of the Civil War on the eastern Kentucky border. The author's analysis of military tactics, political realities, and genuine hardship, is first rate." -- West Virginia History



"As the only modern, comprehensive examination of the Civil War era in the mountain highlands of Kentucky and Virginia, McKnight's book makes a wonderful contribution to Civil War history. I heartily recommend the book. Contested Borderland is a fine narrative history of a complex subject in a very complex region, and I hope it spawns more scholarship on the highland region during the Civil War." -- Indiana Magazine of History

About the Author

Brian D. McKnight is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia's College at Wise. His work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including the Historian, the Smithfield Review, and Ohio Valley History .

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By George C. Bradley on November 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When most of us close our eyes and try to picture the Civil War as it happened, I imagine most of us see long rows of uniformed men advancing toward one another with appropriate flags waving above them, in an open field lit with sunshine. We seem to picture the war as one great Pickett's Charge. All the men are true and brave, ready to die doing their duty. Of course, that's not the way it was. And that vision was especially untrue in the regions tucked away from the commerce and the traffic and the war's main events.

The ridges of the Appalachians separated people. They defined borders between states, between free and slave, and for a while between a country trying to save itself and another wanting to begin on its own. Those mountains and the narrow valleys between them offered plenty of shade and shadows in which people of all sorts could seek refuge. Where they ended in northwestern Pennsylvania the lumber camps became havens for well-armed bands of Union deserters. Farther south, along the Kentucky-Virginia frontier, mixed bands of deserters from both sides hid in the forests and preyed upon the locals. "Volunteers" stepped forward under the shield of being soldiers to steal from whomever they didn't like.

As Brian McKnight points out in this regional study of the war near the Cumberland Gap, although lightly populated, this area had points of military significance, the gap itself being but one. It was here that James A. Garfield first proved his worth in the field, managing his men so well that he quickly gained promotion to brigadier and appointment as Don Carlos Buell's chief-of-staff.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mountain man on April 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book for once took a very complicated subject and made in digestible in real terms. Many Civil War books cannot see the trees for the forest and over explain dates, times and maneuvers instead of the "why" something happened and how it happened. McKnight's book explains the big picture background as to why certain areas of the Confederacy, especially the Central Appalachians, were not easy to pigeonhole as solid anti-union enclaves simply due to the states in which they existed. Like most wars, opinions and loyalties differed and they differed greatly in the mountains of Appalachia where grandsons and other descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers (such as the Over Mountain Men) did not always feel connected to the slave owning farmers to the east and south. Moreover, these Appalachians had mostly a Scots-Irish independent culture and being told what to do and when by either side usually did not go over well in the long run. Consequently, border land residents made decisions from household to household based upon many factors, some noble, others just because their pre-war personal enemies took the opposite side. In any event, the book is well done and a must for any Civil War student.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Snowflake on August 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am currently working on my family genealogy and most of my relatives hail from this area of Kentucky and Virginia. This book mentions many of the units my relatives served in, which includes both Union and Confederate. I found the book to be filled with good information about the major battles and some of the smaller ones. The author gives good background on most of the major commanders, to include some of the Confederate commanders of several small local units. Occasionally individual soldiers are mentioned. All of the information is taken from well-documented sources.
I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the Civil War and how it affected the people of eastern Kentucky and western Virginia.
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