Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Mackey, Thomas C., 1956-

Author's Keywords

Civil war; Slavery; Kentucky; Emancipation; Soldiers; Desertion


United States. Army--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; Confederate States of America. Army; Soldiers--Kentucky--Psychology--History--19th century; Soldiers--Kentucky--Attitudes--History--19th century


Beginning with Bell Irvin Wiley's 1943 The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy, historians have produced many works describing the motivations for soldiers to enlist and serve during the Civil War. However, because they often set up an artificial North-South divide, while suggesting the North and South were homogenous units, the motivations of border state soldiers are not well represented in these works. This thesis starts to mend this oversight and it explores the motivations of white Kentuckians to join both sides of the conflict and remain at arms. This thesis also argues that slavery played a pivotal role in soldier motivations for both Union and Confederate Kentucky soldiers, a point not well developed by the few previous works on Kentucky Civil War soldiers.