Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Civil War in the Jackson Purchase, 1861-1862: The Pro-Confederate Struggle and Defeat in Southwest Kentucky

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Civil War in the Jackson Purchase, 1861-1862: The Pro-Confederate Struggle and Defeat in Southwest Kentucky

Article excerpt

The Civil War in the Jackson Purchase, 1861-1862: The Pro-Confederate Struggle and Defeat in Southwest Kentucky. By Dan Lee. (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, 2014. Pp. [x], 244. Paper, $39.95, ISBN 978-0 7864-7782-1.)

During the Civil War the border states were caught in the middle, tom apart from within, and fought over by both sides. The Civil War in the Jackson Purchase, 1861-1862: The Pro-Confederate Struggle and Defeat in Southwest Kentucky, by Dan Lee of Hardin County, Kentucky, examines the war in the westernmost part of Kentucky, the area known as the Jackson Purchase. Lee explains that the Jackson Purchase, the last part of Kentucky to be settled by whites, was the most pro-Confederate part of the state, often called the "South Carolina of Kentucky" (p. 2). With the Jackson Purchase as his template, Dan Lee tells many stories.

Lee's book is a story of Kentucky, a state that tried to remain neutral. Perhaps "armed neutrality" might have been an option in some meaningless backwater, but not in the Jackson Purchase (p. 15). Rivers and railroads were the keys to victory, and the Jackson Purchase had both.

It is a study of the critical western battles of 1861 and early 1862--a story that is too often ignored. The battles of Belmont-Columbus, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and Island Number Ten determined the course of the war. Victory in those battles made possible the Union invasion of the South. Every battle fought by the Confederate armies in the West afterward was a bloody denouement and desperate attempt to roll back that invasion.

The battles and campaigns across the Jackson Purchase also provided the weeding-out process by which the military leadership for both armies in the West emerged--officers such as Ulysses S. …

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