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American Rambler with Colin Woodward


May 16, 2018

Stephen Rockenbach is a professor of history at Virginia State University, where he has taught the Civil War and U.S. history for the last twelve years. But as he tells Colin, his pursuit of history began with playing Civil War era music on the banjo. In addition to playing bluegrass, he is also a historian of the Bluegrass State. In 2016, he published his book War upon Our Border: Two Ohio Valley Communities Navigate the Civil War, which is available through University of Virginia Press.

Stephen's book examines events in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky, where the war played out quite a bit differently than in other theaters and often descended into guerrilla fighting. His book helps us understand the divided loyalties of people caught between North and South. Why are there Robert E. Lee monuments in Kentucky? Stephen's work shows how Kentucky, as the saying goes, "became a Confederate state after the Civil War." It's a story of race, reunion, and the triumph of Lost Cause ideology in one of the most important regions during the Civil War.