The Front Blog

Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Posts Tagged ‘Civil War

the morning cram [no going home edition]

leave a comment »

Areas of Northern Japan may be hazardous for years.

NPR reports areas around the Fukushima power plant may be uninhabitable for a long time.

Kentucky~  Murray State was named to the World’s Best Colleges list for the 21st time in a row.  Nine Amish men are going to jail in Graves County. WKCTC named one of the 10 best Community Colleges in the nation. Bill Monroe’s birthday is today and they’re celebrating big time at the International Bluegrass Museum. The Commonwealth focuses on cleaning up next week.

Tennessee~ Clarksville announces a transitional house for homeless veterans. The Tennessee State Library has discovered documents from white soldiers serving in a black regiment in the Civil War.

the morning cram [houses for sale…CHEAP!! edition]

leave a comment »

The housing market could get worse before it gets better.

NPR reports foreclosed homes that haven’t hit the market yet are ‘lurking in the shadows’ and will further depress housing market numbers.

Kentucky~ If you are traveling on 641 South of Murray, expect lane closures. A jail escapee is back in jail. Obama’s Afghanistan announcement comes as welcome news to many Fort Campbell families. Taiwain has donated storm relief money (so we can buy things made there). The state is expecting a budget surplus for the fiscal year (fingers crossed).

Tennessee~ UT students will pay more next year. Wanna know where Civil War battles happened? (There’s an app. for that).

Illinois~ Lawmakers want to study the tax-climate.

Good Read – Battle Cry of Freedom

leave a comment »

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
by James McPherson

Buy this book on Amazon. 
(Your purchase supports WKMS!)

Product Description:

James McPherson’s fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War including the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. From there it moves into a masterful chronicle of the war itself–the battles, the strategic maneuvering by each side, the politics, and the personalities. Particularly notable are McPherson’s new views on such matters as the slavery expansion issue in the 1850s, the origins of the Republican Party, the causes of secession, internal dissent and anti-war opposition in the North and the South, and the reasons for the Union’s victory.

Todd Hatton says:

“I think anyone who completes a reading of James McPherson’s 869-page Battle Cry of Freedom could be forgiven for feeling as though they themselves have lived through the U.S. Civil War. But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s enlightening. And it’s largely due to McPherson’s thorough and compelling history of the events and issues leading up to, and beyond, the war. McPherson’s fellow historians, along with reviewer after reviewer, have found Battle Cry to be the indispensible single-volume history of the conflict. For what it’s worth, I’ll add my voice to the chorus. If you haven’t read it, your understanding of the war is at best incomplete.

“Southern apologists have taken issue with McPherson over the causes he gives for the Civil War, misunderstanding or mischaracterizing his study as a simplistic contest over slavery. They argue the conflict was more accurately a principled dispute over sectional economics and political philosophy. A reading of Battle Cry of Freedom makes clear the problem with that thesis. The causes of the Civil War really were many and complex, but African slavery lies at or near the roots of any cause the South cared to name. McPherson makes it clear: no slavery in America would likely have meant no American Civil War. And what’s worse (well, for southern apologists, Lost Cause advocates, and neo-Confederates, at any rate), is that McPherson meticulously sources his work from the words of the southern secessionists themselves. It’s awfully hard to argue that the war wasn’t about slavery when Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens, Robert Toombs, and Edmund Ruffin say it was.

“Nevertheless, Battle Cry of Freedom is not a political tract. It is a rich account of a quintessential American identity crisis. Who are we as a nation or a people? And who do we want to become? Prior to 1861, we referred to ourselves as Kentuckians, Tennesseans, and Illinoians and said that the United States are. It wasn’t until after 1865 that we began calling ourselves Americans, saying that the United States is. This book is a profound insight into why.”

Check out our Good Reads page for more recommended books.

Written by Matt Markgraf

March 10, 2011 at 11:59 am

Good Read – Confederates in the Attic

leave a comment »

Confederates in the Attic
by Tony Horwitz

Buy this book on Amazon. 
(Your purchase supports WKMS!)

Product Description:

When prize-winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz leaves the battlefields of Bosnia and the Middle East for a peaceful corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he thinks he’s put war zones behind him. But awakened one morning by the crackle of musket fire, Horwitz starts filing front-line dispatches again this time from a war close to home, and to his own heart. Written with Horwitz’s signature blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism, Confederates in the Attic brings alive old battlefields and new ones ‘classrooms, courts, country bars’ where the past and the present collide, often in explosive ways. Poignant and picaresque, haunting and hilarious, it speaks to anyone who has ever felt drawn to the mythic South and to the dark romance of the Civil War.

Kate Lochte says:

“If you weren’t raised in the South, you ought to read this book. Todd Hatton lent me Confederates in the Attic. It is an entertaining read but a disturbing one. The most striking chapters, probably because of their closeness to where we live, include Kentucky: Dying for Dixie and Tennessee: The Ghost Marks of Shiloh. The Kentucky chapter is about the 1995 Michael Westerman killing in Guthrie, the birthplace of one of my favorite authors, Robert Penn Warren, just down the road from Murray. The Shiloh chapter is about how some Civil War buffs show up at the Tennessee battlefield before dawn each April 6, the anniversary of the beginning of the bloody battle of 1862 won at tremendous cost by the USA. The modern-day folks try to retrace the battle through the journals of soldiers who fought there and wind up believing they’re seeing the ghosts of the real soldiers and hearing their musket fire as well. Shiloh’s an easy drive from Murray and worth the visit.

“Other interesting stuff in Confederates in the Attic… Horwitz travels with a hardcore Civil War re-enactor who specializes in “bloating” – that would be swelling himself up to look like a dead soldier for re-enactor photographic tableaux. Together Horwitz and the re-enactor complete what’s called a “Civil Wargasm” where they visit as many battlefields as they can in a weekend, dressed in smelly clothes and sleeping in ditches. They drive to each one, but while there use journals to reenact what the real soldiers experienced. It’s pretty miserable for the re-enactors, so they can fully imagine the plight and peril of the original soldiers. Another revealing chapter is Horwitz’ trip to the little town that hosts the remains of the notorious Andersonville Prison. Horwitz uncovers some pretty bizarre, lingering feelings about the war that are worth understanding – and he does so without malice or condescension even when anti-Semitism emerges.

“Again, if you’re new to South (and western Kentucky was the South in Civil War days), this is recommended background reading as you settle in your new home.”

Check out our Good Reads page for more recommended books.

Written by Matt Markgraf

March 4, 2011 at 11:59 am

Datebook: February 23 – Plutonium 1st produced & isolated 70 years ago

leave a comment »

It’s Wednesday, February 23.

Murray State History professor Dr. Bill Mulligan speaks on the topic “The Civil War in Western Kentucky and West Tennessee” for The Jackson Purchase Historical Society meeting Saturday.

It convenes at 10:30 a.m. at Wrather Museum near the corner of 16th and University Drive.

On Saturday The Ultimate Pancake Eating Challenge Throwdown benefits Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Clarksville.  G’s Pancake House Restaurant at 803 South Riverside Drive hosts the challenge starting at noon.  Four contestants face five sixteen ounce pancakes, five eggs and five pieces of meat for over $500 in prizes.

Maiden Alley Cinema ‘s annual Oscar Party starts at 6 p.m. Sunday, this time with casual approach rather than black tie.  Tickets are $15, including food and two adult drink tickets.  Maiden Alley Cinema is on the alley going through the block between South Water and 2nd Streets near the Riverfront in downtown Paducah.

See more about our partnership benefitting Project AIDS Orphan at  Thanks for your personal financial assistance for your public radio home.

morning cram [union busting edition]

leave a comment »

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker wants to close his state’s budget gap by having state workers pay more for pensions and benefits and also permanently limit public employees’ bargaining rights.

NPR reports after a week of protests and Senate Democrats literally walking away from the capitol, no one’s backing down.

KENTUCKY~ Major crimes in Paducah have dropped 16%. +35 MPH winds knocked over a Super 8 Motel sign in Calvert City. Expect delays tomorrow passing over Eggner’s Ferry Bridge. The state’s Tourism Council renames itself and spring cleaning is being planned at a dozen Civil War sites. Two state Republican candidates have no Primary opposition and 14 hopefuls spoke @ a Murray GOP dinner Saturday. The General Assembly is racing to finish their ‘short session.’

OVC BASKETBALL~ (Men’s) MSU > Evansville, UTM > SEMO, APSU < Fairfield; (Women’s) MSU < EIU, UTM < Bradley, APSU > TTU.

Datebook: February 11 – National Inventors’ Day

leave a comment »

Thank goodness it’s Friday, February 11.

Tomorrow and Sunday Civil War historian Kraig Lawson of Cincinnati displays his extensive U.S. naval collection at the Fort Donelson Visitor Center in Dover from 10 to 3. Admission’s free. The 50th Tennessee Infantry offers demonstrations from 10 to 4 tomorrow only. There are new exhibits to see at the historic Dover Hotel as well.

Impressionist Rich Little stars as Jimmy Stewart telling the story of his life tonight at 7:30 at the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts at Madisonville Community College. You’ll also hear the voices of 25 other celebrities. Tickets are $30 and $35 at the box office. Call 270-821-ARTS.

Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah presents Music @ Mac tonight with Tommy Oliverio and Brey McCoy premiering “Whoever you want it to be” show with a live visual experience created by Alex Lane. Tickets are $7 at the door at 7 with music starting at 8:30. Concessions available.

Use the community events template at to get your activities on the air and online. Thanks for listening!

morning cram [summit edition]

leave a comment »

The relationship between China and the U.S. seems to grow more complicated every day, whether the issue is China’s growing military or how to handle North Korea. But there are also persistent economic issues that need to be ironed out as well.

NPR discusses what may come into focus during this week’s summit.

KENTUCKY~ Police yield no arrests in a Hoptown home invasion. Livingston County now has a drug dog on staff. 3 area residents are charged with meth-making. Transportation officials have scheduled a public meeting next to hear about the proposed (and controversial) College Drive widening project. Win a $1.5k scholarship in this creative contest. Top state officials are expected to flock to a transportation conference this week. Some KSU students will roleplay the Civil War. Proposed welfare-state drug testing legislation gains more steam. US Representative Yarmuth: repealing health car law is a waste of time.

TENNESSEE~ Montgomery County’s latest tax profits are up.  Governor Haslam defends making his administration less transparent, while his predecessors warn his term may not be all smooth-sailing.

ILLINOIS~ A local union holds a press conference today with a pair of state lawmakers.

Todd’s Good Read: “Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War”

leave a comment »

Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War
by Berry Craig

Buy this book on Amazon.
(Your purchase supports WKMS!)

Product Description:
‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’ is Kentucky’s motto. Yet the Civil War sharply split the Bluegrass State. Kentuckians fought Kentuckians in some of the bloodiest battles of America’s bloodiest war. The names and faces of the winning and losing generals of those battles are in most history books. But this book is not like most history books; it is about hidden history. Most of the stories are not found in other books. Some are proof that the Civil War was truly ‘a brother’s war’ in the home state of Lincoln and Davis. From the Graves County gun grab to pirates in Paducah to dueling gunboats on the Mississippi, this one-of-a-kind collection of little-known tales by Kentucky historian Berry Craig will captivate Civil War enthusiasts and casual readers alike.

“As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.”   Such a sentiment is fitting in our area given our entirely justified reverence  for our history.

WKCTC history professor Berry Craig has been instilling that reverence in his  students for over 20 years. (Full disclosure: I’m one of those fortunate  students.  I took two of his American History classes as an undergraduate.  And  I’d take ‘em again.)  Craig’s new book, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil  War, is the next best thing to a seat in his classroom.

Hidden History is a twofold pleasure.  They’re great stories, historical or  not, and Craig tells them well, much as you’d imagine someone would who’s got  to keep it fresh semester after semester.  Organized by year, the pieces can be  read individually in a few minutes or all in one sitting.

For those of us who’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Craig, it isn’t hard  to hear his voice talking about Trigg County’s Andrew Jackson Smith, an  African-American private who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, or Paducah’s  Confederate Colonel A.P. Thompson, felled by a Union cannonball in the assault  of Fort Anderson not far from his home.  And lest one think Hidden History is  Purchase-centric, Craig includes anecdotes like “The Yankee Cusser,” from the  Cumberland Gap.

In short, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War is the history class you  always wished you’d taken, written by the one professor you’d want to take it  from.”

-Todd Hatton

Check out our Good Reads page for more recommended books.