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Kentucky Rebel Town: The Civil War Battles of Cynthiana and Harrison County

by William A. Penn

Availablecloth$45.00s 978-0-8131-6771-8
400 pages  Pubdate: 10/07/2016  6.125 x 9.25  35 b/w photos, 10 maps

Publicity Inquiries: Mack McCormick

On April 22, 1861, within weeks of the surrender at Fort Sumter, fresh recruits marched to the Cynthiana, Kentucky, depot—one of the state’s first volunteer companies to join the Confederate army. The soldiers boarded a waiting train as many sympathetic city and county officials cheered. A Confederate flag was raised at the Harrison County courthouse but it was taken down within six months, as the influence of pro-Southern officials diminished. However, this “pestilential little nest of treason” became a battlefield during some of the most dramatic military engagements in the state.

In this fascinating book, William A. Penn provides an impressively detailed account of the military action that took place in this Kentucky region during the Civil War. Because of its political leanings and strategic position along the Kentucky Central Railroad, Harrison County became the target of multiple raids by Confederate general John Hunt Morgan. Conflict in the area culminated in the Second Battle of Cynthiana, in which Morgan’s men clashed with Union troops led by Major General Stephen G. Burbridge (the “Butcher of Kentucky”), resulting in the destruction of much of the town by fire.

Penn draws on dozens of period newspapers as well as personal journals, memoirs, and correspondence from citizens, slaves, soldiers, and witnesses to provide a vivid account of the war’s impact on the region. Featuring new maps that clearly illustrate the combat strategies in the various engagements, Kentucky Rebel Town provides an illuminating look at divided loyalties and dissent in Union Kentucky.

William A. Penn, editor of the Harrison Heritage News, has published articles in Northern Kentucky Heritage and the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly.

Penn’s work is likely the most detailed account of Harrison County in the Civil War ever written. -- Berry Craig, author of Kentucky Confederates: Secession, Civil War, and the Jackson Purchase

William A. Penn’s treatment of the two great battles of Cynthiana are, without question, the best ever done. Not only does Penn clearly describe the troop movements in great detail, he provides a glimpse of the appearance of the combatants on both sides, as well as the equipment and weapons they used. -- Kent Masterson Brown, author of Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander

Penn deserves an “A” for his research and another “A” for his skill in effectively pulling the story together. If you’re interested in Civil War history, Kentucky Rebel Town will be well worth your read. -- Kentucky Civil War Bugle

The greatest strength of Penn’s work is the attention to military detail. Kentucky Rebel Town is, quite simply, the most complete and organized account of the Civil War in Harrison County. -- Civil War Monitor

This book is a gem for two sets of students of the Civil War: those interested in the fighting in Kentucky other than Richmond/Perryville, and those interested in civilian life during the war. It is especially beneficial to the latter group.

Penn has done a marvelous job of presenting the many obstacles [the civilians] had to deal with daily, and gives us more appreciation of the effects of the war on their lives. -- Civil War News

This is a very good account of a small community in the midst of a very big war. -- NYMAS Review

The strength of Kentucky Rebel Town lies in its meticulous research, careful analysis, and evenhanded judgments. Penn has been researching Harrison County for decades, and the rich array of primary sources he cites—including letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, government documents of all levels, military railroad maps, archaeological studies, first-person interviews, and more—shows it. -- Journal of Southern History

Penn’s book is probably the most comprehensive source concerning the Civil War in Harrison County. -- Kentucky Libraries

[A] detailed account of the Civil War period of 1861–1864 in Kentucky. -- Southeastern Librarian