A compelling new volume from the author of Shiloh-In Hell before Night and Chattanooga-A Death Grip on the Confederacy, this book explores the strategic importance of Kentucky for both sides in the Civil War and recounts the Confederacy's bold attempt to capture the Bluegrass State. In a narrative rich with quotations from the diaries, letters, and reminiscences of participants, James Lee McDonough brings to vigorous life an episode whose full significance has previously eluded students of the war.
In February of 1862, the fall of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson near the Tennessee-Kentucky border forced a Confederate retreat into northern Alabama. After the Southern forces failed that spring at Shiloh to throw back the Federal advance, the controversial General Braxton Bragg, newly promoted by Jefferson Davis, launched a countermovement that would sweep eastward to Chattanooga and then northwest through Middle Tennessee. Capturing Kentucky became the ultimate goal, which, if achieved, would lend the war a different complexion indeed.
Giving equal attention to the strategies of both sides, McDonough describes the ill-fated Union effort to capture Chattanooga with an advance through Alabama, the Confederate march across Tennessee, and the subsequent two-pronged invasion of Kentucky. He vividly recounts the fighting at Richmond, Munfordville, and Perryville, where the Confederate dream of controlling Kentucky finally ended.
The first book-length study of this key campaign in the Western Theater, War in Kentucky not only demonstrates the extent of its importance but supports the case that 1862 should be considered the decisive year of the war.