Senator John J. Crittenden was a central figure in Kentucky politics for more than fifty years and he fathered a remarkable family. The fame of the family patriarch has overshadowed the contributions of his children who deserve attention in their own right. George and Thomas Crittenden held significant commands during the Civil War while Ann Mary's life exemplified the struggles of antebellum women and their turmoil on the home front during the war. Several of the other siblings were leaders in their respective communities and their stories are interwoven as the evidence allows. The Crittendens exemplify the tragedy of a split family in the border region during the Civil War. By utilizing the role of birth order in creating family roles and establishing parental expectations the unique development of each sibling determined their response as they did at the outbreak of the Civil War. The impact of the war on family relations is followed by the rapprochement and reunion of the family, as well as the domestic developments of the family shadowed by the effects of the war. More than two-thirds of the book deals with the Civil War. Brothers George and Thomas fight on opposite sides. George receives a chapter on the disease at Mill Springs while attention is given to the rise and fall of Thomas as a commander. The overwhelming pressure to succeed placed on the siblings by their father handicapped both of them from truly succeeding as commanders.