Monday, December 29, 2008

New Book and Postcards Recall Kentucky’s Confederates

Story of Confederate soldiers told through collection of historic photos.

By Matthew T. Patton

New from Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America is Remembering Kentucky’s Confederates. The pictorial history boasts more than 200 vintage images and celebrates the 2008 bicentennial of the birth of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, born in Kentucky and featured prominently in the new title. Also available is a set of 15 vintage postcards featuring prints from the new book, Remembering Kentucky’s Confederates.

For Kentuckians, the Civil War was truly a conflict of brother against brother. As a slave state bordering the United States and the Confederate States, Kentucky had ties to both the North and South. Although its state government remained in the Union, the people of Kentucky were divided in sentiment, prompting some 40,000 Kentuckians to leave their homes to fight for Southern independence. When Confederate soldiers eventually returned from the country’s bloodiest war, they were held in high regard by their fellow Kentuckians. To be counted among the state’s Confederate veterans was an honor, and when the number of living Confederate veterans began to dwindle, groups across Kentucky raised monuments to their memory. Remembering Kentucky’s Confederates presents an overview of the state’s Confederate soldiers and units who fought bravely in the War Between the States.

Author Geoffrey R. Walden is a native Kentuckian and a descendant of Kentucky Confederate soldiers. As a life member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Walden has studied and researched stories of Confederates across the state. Along with images of soldiers during the war, veteran reunions, and the monuments erected in their name, this intriguing book features previously unreleased photographs from public and private archives. A 1978 graduate of the University of Kentucky, Walden served on active duty in the U.S. Army during the Cold War in Germany. He is now a civilian logistician for the Army, travelling around the world on military assignments.

Highlights of Remembering Kentucky’s Confederates:
  • -- Confederate soldiers and veterans are brought to life again as the new book shows them as they appeared in the Civil War and post-war reunions;
  • -- first book to provide an overall picture of Kentucky Confederate Soldiers in the War Between the States, including not only officers and leaders, but also the private soldiers who served in the ranks; and
  • -- enthusiasts of Morgan’s Cavalry will be pleased by some 30 previously unpublished vintage photographs of Morgan’s Men. asked the author a few questions about his interest in the book, exploring the catalyst for publication.

Q: What inspired you to author this book?
A: “The original idea for the book came from Arcadia editor Luke Cunningham, a native Kentuckian. He contacted me while I was deployed with the Army in Iraq and I agreed that this was an excellent idea for a book, as there had been no photographic study of Kentucky’s Confederate soldiers.”

Q: How did you go about gathering up the photos?
A: “Having researched Kentucky Confederate soldiers for several years, and as a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I am familiar with the larger public and private Civil War photo collections in the state. I used the considerable collections of the Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Military History Museum, as well as Special Collections in the libraries of the University of Kentucky and Western Kentucky University. I was also fortunate to be able to use such private collections as those of the Orphan Brigade Kinfolk Association, Morgan’s Men Association and Octagon Hall Museum. Many friends and individuals donated copies of their family photos and others from their collections, which added a great deal to the book, including several previously unpublished soldier images.”

Q: What are two or three of your favorite photos in the book (and why)?
A: “It’s hard to narrow it down to two or three. I was fortunate to be able to include several interesting and previously unpublished soldier images. One of my favorites is the cover photo, which is a post-war view of the battle flag of the 4th Kentucky Infantry that had been carried in 1862. Period photos of Kentucky Confederate flags are extremely rare, and this one had never before been published in print form. Another of my favorites is a wartime image of Sgt. James Shacklett of Woodward’s 2nd Kentucky Cavalry. He posed fully armed with cavalry saber and revolver, and with a look of resolute determination on his face. A poignant reminder of the losses suffered in the war is shown by a photo of Cyrus Branham of Hardin County, and his original wooden grave marker, which his comrades placed when he was killed near Atlanta in 1864, and which his father brought back home when he returned Cyrus’ body to Kentucky in 1865.”

Q: The Civil War in Kentucky truly did pit brother against brother, family against family. Did you see instances of this in your research?
A: “Instances of members of Kentucky families fighting against each other in the War Between the States are numerous, from generals to privates, but one of the most ironic was the case of Nicholas County brothers Thomas and Asa Owens. In 1861 both brothers enlisted, Thomas in the Confederate army and Asa in the Federal forces. In an unbelievable coincidence, they both served in Company I of the 4th Kentucky Infantry, but in identically numbered regiments in the opposing armies. They both rose to the rank of sergeant in their units, and they actually met between the lines south of Chattanooga during a truce in the fall of 1863.”

Q: If you had to name the top five attractions for people to visit in Kentucky as far as Civil War sites or monuments are concerned, what would they be and why?
A: “Kentucky boasts several Civil War sites that are important not only to Kentucky’s history, but also to the conflict on a national level. Although it was rather quickly eclipsed by battles at Fort Donelson and Shiloh, Tennessee, the first significant Union victory of the war was won at Mill Springs in Pulaski County in January 1862. The Mill Springs Battlefield Association has a new museum near the battlefield at Nancy, Kentucky, along with miles of battlefield trails with interpretive markers. The largest battle of the war in Kentucky was fought at Perryville in October 1862, and the battlefield is now a state park with a museum. The Kentucky Military History Museum in Frankfort has one of the best displays on Kentucky’s Civil War history (the museum, located in the Old Arsenal, is currently undergoing renovation). Several other Kentucky museums and historic sites have displays on the War Between the States; two of the most popular of these are the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Fairview and the Civil War Museum of the Western Theater in Bardstown.”

The book is available at area bookstores, independent retailers, online retailers or through Arcadia Publishing at 888-313-2665 or

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