The Civil War is a subject often broached by the minds of both creatives and historians. Stories of undaunted heroism gleam in gritty glory on the silver screen, fill the pages of historical fiction and create endless towers of impressive biographies, histories and scholarly examinations in all forms of scientific and social study. We know this Civil War as if it were an intimate part of recent generational memory – a war that almost shares a shadow with World War II in American recall. Its key players – Lincoln, Grant, Lee – have morphed into giant, sepia caricatures (with enviable mustaches, I might add), far surpassing the modest day-to-days that form the bulk of human existence. But there are others – lesser players in the drama of war – who stand in the shadows of these grand, mythical heroes; men who stormed the same stage, faced the same trials but ultimately failed to capture the modern imaginations of commercial America.
Pulling the spotlight away from center stage, professor and author, Elizabeth Leonard, introduces one of these understudies to his rightful place amongst the Civil War heavyweights. Kentuckian, Unionist and a personal ear to Lincoln, Joseph Holt served as Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General and fought side-by-side with the greats to ensure that a Federal victory would bring about positive change in the wake of unbelievable destruction. Join Leonard at The Filson Historical Society  this Thursday, June 14th, at noon as she presents her latest book, Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky.
The author of several historical books, including Lincoln’s Avengers: Justice, Revenge and Reunion after the Civil War, Elizabeth Leonard is also the John L. and Cornelia V. Gibson Professor of History at Colby College. This latest endeavor, Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally, seeks to not only restore Holt’s contributions amongst historical legacy, but also to displace the numerous misunderstandings and mischaracterizations of a man who was stern in demeanor but brilliant in mind. This first full-scale biography of Holt delves into his energetic defense of Kentucky’s loyalty to the Union and the mutual respect and influence shared between Holt and the President.
Grab some lunch, put on your thinking caps and examine the unsung roles of the Civil War in a whole new light.
The Filson Historical Society is located at 1310 South Third Street. This event is free, but reservations  are required.
Image: Courtesy of The Colby Bookstore website www.colbybookstore.collegestorieonline.com