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My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans

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Overview

In the wake of America's Civil War, hundreds of thousands of Confederate veterans trudged back to their homes in the South, where the nation whose ideals they had fought for no longer existed. Lingering war wounds, missing limbs, or the horrors of brutal warfare left some unable to care for themselves. Homeless, disabled, and destitute veterans began appearing on the sidewalks of southern cities and towns, unwanted and unsupported by the government.

Driven by compassion for ...

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Overview

In the wake of America's Civil War, hundreds of thousands of Confederate veterans trudged back to their homes in the South, where the nation whose ideals they had fought for no longer existed. Lingering war wounds, missing limbs, or the horrors of brutal warfare left some unable to care for themselves. Homeless, disabled, and destitute veterans began appearing on the sidewalks of southern cities and towns, unwanted and unsupported by the government.

Driven by compassion for their less fortunate comrades, in 1902 Kentucky's Confederate veterans organized and built the Kentucky Confederate Home, a luxurious refuge that sheltered almost a thousand needful men who had worn the gray decades before. For three decades the Home was a respectable — if not always idyllic — place where invalid, decrepit, and impoverished veterans could spend their last days in comfort and security. Part military encampment and part rest home, the Home became a tourist destination and a living museum where twentieth-century schoolchildren could meet the men who marched at Shiloh or defended Atlanta.

In My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans, Rusty Williams frames the lively history of the Kentucky Confederate Home through the stories of those who built, managed, and inhabited it: a daring cavalryman-turned-bank robber, a small-town clergyman whose concern for the veterans cost him his pastorate, a senile ship captain, a wealthy benefactress with a scandalous secret, and more.

Based on the Kentucky Confederate Home's operational documents, contemporary accounts, unpublished letters, family stories, and other valuable resources, My Old Confederate Home reveals an unwritten chapter of Kentucky's Civil War history. Each chapter is peppered with the poignant stories of men who spent their final years as voluntary wards of an institution that required residents to live in a manner which reinforced the mythology of a noble Johnny Reb and a tragic Lost Cause.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[My Old Confederate Home tells] of the nuances and "byway" stories involving the war — the personal stories, the oddities, the forgotten.... about a forgotten and overlooked aspect of the War Between the States."Old Virginia Blog" —

"This well-written book is highly recommended to Civil War enthusiasts." -Daily Oklahoman" —

"Based on the Kentucky Confederate Home's operational documents, contemporary accounts, unpublished letters, family stories, and other valuable resources, My Old Confederate Home reveals an unwritten chapter of Kentucky's Civil War history." —Joseph-Beth Newsletter" —

"Williams provides the history of this home and what happened during its existence. This well-written book is highly recommended to Civil War enthusiasts." —Benet Exton, The Oklahoman" —

"Rusty Williams' definitive account of the Kentucky Confederate Home was written from extant original sources and documents... and is intended for both general readers and scholars." —Marion B. Lucas, Bowling Green Daily News" —

"Williams rekindles the significance of respecting veterans and honoring their contribution to history. He also emphasizes the importance of average Americans supporting veterans despite the political tensions and economic hardships that follow war. As the story of the Kentucky Confederate Home shows, caring for veterans is the first step to repairing an injured nation." —civilwar.com" —

"Rusty Williams' My Old Confederate Home demonstrates how the Kentucky Confederate Home in Pewee Valley was forged and maintained through a mutually beneficial partnership between government and private organizations. By profiling a shining example of how societies can and should honor and care for veterans in need, it highlights important lessons for present and future generations." —cwba.com" —

"Freelance writer Rusty Williams has written the first history of the Kentucky Confederate Home, which operated in Pewee Valley, near Jefferson County, for thirty-two years during the early 1900s....This book will provide some very worthwhile insight on the experiences the Confederate veteran might have had while living there." —Kentucky Ancestors" —

"Williams tells how Kentucky tried to provide some support for its needy Confederate veterans long after the cannons were quiet but while many of the older Rebel soldiers were still alive during the emotional "Lost Cause" era. This entertaining narrative utilizes the individual stories of many of the home's benefactors, managers and residents." —Berkeley Scott, Kentucky Monthly" —

"Provide readers with an excellent account of efforts made by ex-Confederate who were business and political leaders in the state to provide a place for their comrades who had fallen on hard times." —Post and Courier" —

"This book is a real jewel for your Confederate Library, just as the Confederate home in Kentucky was the jewel of all the places that were set up across the southern veterans." —Lone Star Book Review" —

"Williams provides an excellent summarization about Confederate veterans' organizations in Kentucky after the war." —Bits and Pieces" —

"This book is a real jewel for your Confederate library, just as the Confederate home in Kentucky was the jewel of all places that were set up across the south for southern veterans." —The Lone Star Book Review" —

"This interesting tale of late-19th-century Kentucky politics, the workings of Civil War veterans' organizations, and the careers of institutionalized Civil War veterans is sure to hold your attention." —Civil War News" —

"William's book teems with human interest stories that undergird an institutional history. My Old Confederate Home will find broad appeal among scholarly and popular audiences who have an interest in thepost-Civil War lives of Kentucky's Confederate veterans, social welfare, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the mythology of the Lost Cause...Williams makes great strides in unraveling the Lost Cause mythology that encased the Kentucky Confederate Home, it's inhabitants, and its supporters...Williams story and its lively characters illuminate Kentucky's responses to its needy veterans and how these efforts ensured a proper place for the states' citizen-soldiers." —H-Net Reviews" —

"...a fascinating read.... No library on Kentucky Civil War history will be complete without this book."—The Journal of America's Military Past" —

"Using detailed records of the home, Mr. Williams is able to cover the entire period of operation from inception to the death of the final Veteran.... an interesting and moving read." —DCV Today" —

"All readers...will appreciate Williams's descriptive writing and colorful storytelling which brings his many subjects, and the time period in which they lived, to life."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society" —

"Williams reveals the final, untold chapter of Kentucky's Civil War history."—Appalachian News-Express" —

"Williams should be commended for his energetic and very readable history of one of the South's most successful postwar efforts to provide solace and assistance to Confederate veterans as they ambled toward the grave."— Journal of Southern History" —

"A useful introduction into the grassroots formation, organization, and management of Confederate homes. Throug his meticulous research and a cast of lively characters, Williams has indeed created a respectable place for Civil War veterans."— West Virginia History" —

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813125824
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,400,460
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Rusty Williams, a freelance writer and historian, has written for the Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Antonio Express-News and the Associated Press. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Guthix

    Hello

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Alex

    Hi guthix !

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  • Posted July 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An excellent book on ACW veterans

    At the end of the American Civil War, the government was careful to disallow all legal claims by the Confederacy rendering all bonds, debts and contracts null and void. Reconstruction governments followed this policy for political and financial reasons. The declaration on legal debts did nothing to the emotional bond and debt Southerners felt for Confederate veterans. These men had no access to federal pensions for wounds or support as they aged. Little by little, as the economy improved and the era of good feeling took hold, Southern states started to help these men. This book provides us with a view of the war that we seldom see but is a necessary part of the war, the care of aging veterans. Additionally, we see the workings of personal and public charity, fund raising, the role of Confederate organizations and politics in America at the turn of the century.
    The author tells these stories not by using financial legers, newspaper reports and meeting minutes that would produce an almost unreadable book. This is a story of people. As we follow their stories, the larger story of the home emerges. This makes this a very human story, rich in characters and details. This is not gossip or speculation, 30 pages of endnotes and a 20-page bibliography detail the scholarship.
    By the turn of the century Civil War veterans were either well established or in increasing desperate condition. In Kentucky, the well-established veterans helped the less successful. The early chapters open the world of private charity and the politics of Confederate Veteran organizations. In time, these efforts result in the establishment of a veteran's "Home". Raising the initial money, acquiring land and securing state support walks us through fund raising and politics in Kentucky and by extension America.
    Running a home for elderly men was much different from expectations. The ideal of dignified healthy old men quickly gave way to reality. Many veterans had serious drinking problems, others suffered from dementia, some were bed-ridden and all required medical care. Death was common. These issues and the Home's response are covered in a series of very human stories illustrating that no matter how much things change much remains the same.
    This book takes us through American life from the turn of the century to the 1930s. We see America through the eyes of an aging population and the people determine to care for them. This story is full of little surprises and nuggets of information. It is pure Americana with a Southern flair. World War 1 is a major disruption in support for the home when people support the new veterans and send less to the old ones. How do you handle the arrival of a Black Confederate? What impact does Women's Suffrage have on the Board of Directors?
    The author has an easy to read, lively but informative style. He keeps this personal but never loses sight of the main story or how the people move things forward. The result is an informative and fun read that is warm and very human. This is not "Battles & Leaders" but a look at the men who fought the war at the end of their lives. This unique history should find a place in your library. This book will help you remember people not regiments fought the war and that these people had lives independent of the war.

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