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  • Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (bio)
Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State. By Anne E. Marshall. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. Pp. 256. Cloth, $35.00.)

In Creating a Confederate Kentucky, Anne E. Marshall sets out to examine "one of the great paradoxes of Civil War history," the postbellum identity of Kentucky as a Confederate state (2). Marshall analyzes the growth of Confederate identity in Kentucky between 1865 and 1935, focusing on the varied ways—memorial services, monument building, and veterans association meetings—that Kentuckians remembered the Civil War. Marshall expands her analysis beyond the activities of ex-Confederates by examining the cultural practices of both Unionists and African Americans, who attempted to use the cultural and political capital they had earned in the Union victory to shape public memories. Joining in two historiographical debates, Civil War remembrance and Kentucky during the Reconstruction period, Marshall's cogent argument relies on a wide variety of sources, such as diaries and memoirs, but also songs, travel accounts, and popular [End Page 286] novels such as Annie Fellows Johnston's The Little Colonel, which spread the image of Kentucky as the archetypical Confederate state.

Although the states' rights argument had long been a part of Kentucky's politics, it was not inevitable that after the war white Kentuckians would come to remember themselves as part of the Confederacy. For many, protecting the institution of slavery was not enough to validate leaving the Union. Although initially the state declared neutrality, Kentuckians illustrated their loyalty to the Constitution and the United States, despite their misgivings about Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party. Marshall points out that among fighting-age men in Kentucky "between 90,000 and 100,000 men chose to fight for the Union, while only 25,000 to 40,000 pledged themselves to the Confederate war effort" (2). During the war white Kentuckians' belief that the U.S. Constitution was still the best instrument to protect states' rights was shattered by the policies of the Federal government and the abusive tactics of Union military commanders. To gain control over a population that contained numerous Confederate sympathizers, Union commanders impinged upon civil liberties by suspending the freedom of the press and declaring martial law. The most infamous of these was General Stephen Burbridge, "the most hated man in Kentucky," who in 1864 issued his Order 59, which called for the execution of four Confederate guerrillas for every loyal citizen killed (23). But as Marshall notes, nothing smacked more of betrayal to white Kentuckians than Lincoln's policies on slavery. By 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation and the ensuing enlistment of blacks into the Union army turned whites away from the Union cause. This perceived betrayal by the Federal government later shaped how white Kentuckians recalled their experiences during the war.

Immediately after the war, Kentuckians began to create the image of the Bluegrass State as a rebellious state through political realignment and lawlessness and violence that would shape how the rest of the nation remembered Kentucky. The Democratic Party came to dominate state politics, as white Kentuckians voted in "retaliation for the tight reign of martial law during the war, for the perceived injustice of Reconstruction . . . and, most of all, for the violation of racial order in their own state" (33). White Kentuckians engaged in political and racial violence in a manner that was more closely associated with the states of the Lower South that experienced military reconstruction. The Ku Klux Klan and other regulators used violence to squash Republican voters, both blacks and whites, and to terrorize Union veterans. Meanwhile, former Confederates and their sympathizers began to cement the Lost Cause interpretation into the state's town squares, cemeteries, and other public spaces by building [End Page 287] memorials to Confederate soldiers in numbers that paled in comparison to Union monuments. As in the rest of the South, groups such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) took charge of raising funds and commissioning the construction of these monuments, making white women the prime "curators of public...


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pp. 286-288
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