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History Lesson

Pulitzer Prize nominee
to speak at JCHS annual dinner

Author Horwitz wrote
‘The Longest Raid of the Civil War’

By Nichole R. Osinski
Contributing Writer

(November 2011) – Lester Horwitz is bringing back the Civil War. The long time author and historian has been writing and speaking about the Civil War events that hit closer to home. Namely, Morgan’s Raid.
Horwitz’s book, “The Longest Raid of the Civil War,” chronicles the Indiana-Ohio raid of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan in July 1863. Horwitz’s book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and became the No. 1 bestseller in the Tri-State area when it was first published.

Lester Horwitz

Photo provided

Author Lester Horwitz’s
book became the No. 1 bestseller in the
Tri-State area when it
was first published.

Horwitz, 80, will be the keynote speaker at the Jefferson County Historical Society’s Annual Dinner, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 11, at Clifty Inn in Madison, Ind.
“I want people in my audience to know what happened here,” said Horwitz. “How it affected other people.”
Horwitz plans to speak about the Civil War in the Kentuckiana and Ohio area while using his book as a central focus point. The events leading up to the book are an interesting story in itself. It began when Horwitz and his wife decided to buy a house in Ohio that had been raided by Morgan and his men. Over the next 14 years, Horwitz began collecting stories, books and articles about the raiders.
In 1994 the local historical society asked Horwitz to co-chair an exhibit lasting for five months. “People would come up to me and say, ‘I would like to buy your book,’ and I thought, ‘I should write a book,’ ” Horwitz said.
Thus a detailed account of the 1863 ride that began in Tennessee and ended in Ohio was formed in “The Longest Raid.”
Not long after being published, the book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in history, and Horwitz also received a call from C-SPAN in Washington, D.C., asking where he would be giving his next presentation on Morgan’s Raid. The network ended up filming him and broadcasting the historian’s speech nationwide.
At his presentation in Madison, Horwitz will share the importance of local history and how it changed those people involved.
Karen Eldridge, owner of Karen’s Bookbarn in La Grange, Ky., will also be featuring Horwitz at a book signing event and hopes people will take a new interest in this time period.
“The Civil War is just a very popular topic,” she said. “It’s important that people have an appreciation for their local history.”
She notes that this is a good time because the United States is commemorating the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
For JCHS Executive Director Joe Carr, having Horwitz speak during the sesquicentennial adds a special touch to learning about local history. It will also be the first time they have had a speaker discuss Morgan’s Raid. “This was a major event in the Civil War,” said Carr. “We try to inspire people to participate and care for their local heritage.”
The JCHS hopes to further an appreciation of local history not only through an annual dinner but also through other venues.
JCHS Board President Richard Armstrong said the society does something at least 10 months out of the year. They have had numerous guests, such as an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, and are planning two upcoming tours, one of Jefferson County Stone churches and the other cemeteries of Revolutionary War veterans. The society has also sponsored a children’s art show and Madison in Bloom garden tour each spring.
Though Horwitz has spoken at more than 300 organizations, this will be his first time speaking at the JCHS. He plans to not only bring his interesting stories but also supporting material from the U.S. Library of Congress and the Indiana Historical Society. Much of his information comes from traveling around local towns and pulling facts from libraries, newspapers and local historians. He also received more than 400 letters from people who had information on Morgan’s Raid.
With this wealth of information, Horwitz has not only published a book but adapted it for the stage in a musical titled, “The Rebels are Coming.” He also wrote the movie screenplay for “The Longest Raid” and is now writing a new book called “After the Raid.” This book will continue with the history after Morgan’s Raid and what happened to the many people and their descendants who were effected by the war.
“I want people to realize what actually happened in this area during this time in history” said Horwitz. “Half a million American lives lost is nothing to celebrate but it is something to commemorate.”

• The evening will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner. The cost is $30 which is payable at the door. Space is limited and reservations should be made by 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4. Call (812) 265-2335 to reserve.

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