Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

History, MA

Committee Chair

Mackey, Thomas

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Krebs, Daniel

Committee Member

Krebs, Daniel

Committee Member

Gregg, Gary

Author's Keywords

Civil War; Kentucky; Unionism; Abraham Lincoln


This thesis analyzes Southeastern Kentucky’s political and military support for the Union during the Civil War era. In the decades prior to the 1860 election, Kentucky developed deep social and economic ties with all sections of the country. After the secession winter that followed Abraham Lincoln’s presidential election, the statewide population divided and pockets of significant Confederate sympathies emerged. Kentucky’s southeastern counties aligned with the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War because of a strong national identity and the absence of a large slave population. As the war unfolded, Southeastern Kentuckians played an important role in the disruption of repeated Confederate invasions. Kentucky split again in the emancipationist phase of the war when guerilla warfare engulfed the slave state, but southeastern Kentuckians continued to support federal efforts with votes, enlistments, and service. In the final months of the conflict, and the years that followed, a core of Kentucky’s southeastern counties did not drift toward the Confederacy’s “lost cause,” nor to the Democratic Party, as did much of the state. Instead, citizens from Southeastern Kentucky offered robust support for Union veterans and other Republican candidates who ran for both state and federal offices. This thesis illuminates the political activity and military service of citizens from Southeastern Kentucky during those turbulent years with attention to national events and other local populations proximate to the region of study.