Kentucky in the American Civil War
Kentucky was a border state of key importance in the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln recognized the importance of the Commonwealth when he declared ""I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky."" In a September 1861 letter to Orville Browning, Lincoln wrote:I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we cannot hold Missouri, nor Maryland. These all against us, and the job on our hands is too large for us. We would as well consent to separation at once, including the surrender of this capitol.Kentucky, being a border state, was among the chief places where the ""Brother against brother"" scenario was prevalent. Kentucky was officially neutral at the beginning of the war, but after a failed attempt by Confederate General Leonidas Polk to take the state of Kentucky for the Confederacy, the legislature petitioned the Union for assistance, and thereafter became solidly under Union control.Kentucky was the site of fierce battles, such as Mill Springs and Perryville. It was host to such military leaders as Ulysses S. Grant on the Union side, who first encountered serious Confederate gunfire coming from Columbus, Kentucky, and Nathan Bedford Forrest on the Confederate side. Forrest proved to be a scourge to the Union Army in such places as the towns of Sacramento and Paducah, where he conducted guerrilla warfare against Union forces.Kentucky was the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd, and his southern counterpart, Confederate President Jefferson Davis.