The Civil War: Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General
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After the Civil War began in April 1861, Joseph Holt devoted his energies to the Union cause, and keeping his native state of Kentucky in the United States, even when most of his family sided with the Confederacy (except for his unionist aunt Mary Ann Stephens). In September 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Holt as judge advocate general of the U.S. Army. Holt spent long hours with Lincoln reviewing courts-martial cases requiring the president’s attention. Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865 put Holt firmly in the public eye as he presided over the controversial military commission that tried the suspected conspirators.