Embattled Capital: Frankfort, Kentucky in the Civil War. By James M. Prichard. Illustrated, photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index, 296 pp., 2014, Frankfort Heritage Press, www.frankforthp.com, $39.95.
This is an interesting story of the Kentucky capital during the war.Like much of Kentucky it was controlled by both sides at different times.In fact the author points out that since Kentucky did not secede it was the only loyal state capital captured by the Confederates during the war.
Kentucky’s attempt to remain neutral was more the symptom of the underlying issue than the cause of the strife.There were too many supporters of both sides for Kentucky to have unilaterally declared allegiance to either faction.This led to attempts at neutrality but eventually brought the state into open conflict.
Frankfort was a very small town during the Civil War, just over 3000 people and a third of them were slaves.Like much of Kentucky when the war was over the discharged soldiers returned home with neighbors they may have fought against. This led to a very uneasy peace in Kentucky and the author points out many cases where guerilla warfare still smoldered through the fall of 1865.
This book is very detailed in examining the lives of Frankfort’s citizens, some who became soldiers, as well as soldiers sent to garrison the town.One thing it is lacking though is a good map of the city so one could see where all these places where in relation to each other, as well as use it now to see what remains.Oddly the interior cover has a bit of a map, and there are a few other pieces of maps in the book, but it lacks one cohesive map to bring it all together.As someone who likes to visit the places where the events happened a good map would have been greatly appreciated.
I especially liked the roster at the end of the book that covered all soldiers from Frankfort, and Franklin County; both Union and Confederate.For some the listing is pretty basic, what company and regiment they were in, and when the mustered in and out.For others though there is a good more detail about the man, such as his life before and after the war.Some even have a picture, although these pictures leave a bit to be desired as they are only thumb sized; however some had a larger picture in the main text so it’s not as large an issue.
This is a very beautiful book that is put together more like a coffee table book than a history book with its large glossy pages.It has many wonderful pictures and illustrations; in fact it is rare to have more than a page or two in a row without some sort of illustration. Overall I would recommend this book as one that helps illuminate the struggles that Frankfort, and Kentucky in general, experienced during and after the war due to its border state status.