- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (August 29, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 081316771X
- ISBN-13: 978-0813167718
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,128,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Kentucky Rebel Town: The Civil War Battles of Cynthiana and Harrison County Hardcover – August 29, 2016
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"Penn's work is likely the most detailed account of Harrison County in the Civil War ever written."―Berry Craig, author of Kentucky Confederates: Secession, Civil War, and the Jackson Purchase
"William A. Penn's treatment of the two great battles of Cynthiana are, without question, the best ever done. Not only does Penn clearly describe the troop movements in great detail, he provides a glimpse of the appearance of the combatants on both sides, as well as the equipment and weapons they used."―Kent Masterson Brown, author of Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander
"Penn deserves an "A" for his research and another "A" for his skill in effectively pulling the story together. If you're interested in Civil War history, Kentucky Rebel Town will be well worth your read."―Kentucky Civil War Bugle
"The greatest strength of Penn's work is the attention to military detail. Kentucky Rebel Town is, quite simply, the most complete and organized account of the Civil War in Harrison County."―Civil War Monitor
"This book is a gem for two sets of students of the Civil War: those interested in the fighting in Kentucky other than Richmond/Perryville, and those interested in civilian life during the war. It is especially beneficial to the latter group.
Penn has done a marvelous job of presenting the many obstacles [the civilians] had to deal with daily, and gives us more appreciation of the effects of the war on their lives."―Civil War News
"This is a very good account of a small community in the midst of a very big war."―NYMAS Review
"The strength of Kentucky Rebel Town lies in its meticulous research, careful analysis, and evenhanded judgments. Penn has been researching Harrison County for decades, and the rich array of primary sources he cites―including letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, government documents of all levels, military railroad maps, archaeological studies, first-person interviews, and more―shows it."―Journal of Southern History
"Penn's book is probably the most comprehensive source concerning the Civil War in Harrison County."―Kentucky Libraries
"[A] detailed account of the Civil War period of 1861–1864 in Kentucky."―Southeastern Librarian
About the Author
William A. Penn, editor of the Harrison Heritage News, has published articles in Northern Kentucky Heritage and the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly.
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;Local historian and genealogist Penn takes a “more nuanced” view of the Civil War in what has generally been regard as “the best rebel town in Kentucky,” Cynthiana in Harrison County. He makes a good case that, although the area was generally pro-Confederate, there was a strong Unionist presence, which was suppressed early in the war by local secessionists and an influx of Rebel sympathizers from outside the state, violating its self-proclaimed neutrality. After the Confederacy invaded Kentucky in September of 1861, Harrison County – and most of the rest of the state – passed quickly behind Union lines, and local Unionists emerged to assume political control of the area, imposing rather rigid restrictions on Secessionists. This control was only threatened twice, in mid-1862 and mid-1864, when John Hunt Morgan raided into the area, only to be defeated each time. This is a very good account of a small community in the midst of a very big war.'
For the full review, see StrategyPage.Com
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.