During the Civil War, the majority of Kentuckians supported the Union under the leadership of Henry Clay, but one part of the state presented a striking exception. The Jackson Purchase -- bounded by the Mississippi River to the west, the Ohio River to the north, and the Tennessee River to the east -- fought hard for separation and secession, and produced eight times more Confederates than Union soldiers. Supporting states' rights and slavery, these eight counties in the westernmost part of the commonwealth were so pro-Confederate that the Purchase was dubbed "the South Carolina of Kentucky."
The first dedicated study of this key region, Kentucky Confederates provides valuable insights into a misunderstood and understudied part of Civil War history. Author Berry Craig begins by exploring the development of the Purchase from 1818, when Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby acquired it from the Chickasaw tribe. Geographically isolated from the rest of the Bluegrass State, the area's early settlers came from the South, and rail and river trade linked the region to Memphis and western Tennessee rather than to points north and east.
Craig draws from an impressive array of primary documents, including newspapers, letters, and diaries, to reveal the regional and national impact this unique territory had on the nation's greatest conflict. Offering an important new perspective on this rebellious borderland and its failed bid for secession, Kentucky Confederates will serve as the standard text on the subject for years to come.