Rushville Republican

October 15, 2013

Indiana and the Civil War

By Bill Ward
Rushville Republican

---- — I recently purchased a book about Indiana and the Civil War from the Milroy School and a fund raising company. Other than numerous typographical errors it was very interesting. It actually went into some detail about each state and territory around at the time. I remembered Rush County had been very involved with this little war. I found that our state supplied over 200,000 soldiers for the Union and several thousand for the Confederacy which was something I had not thought of. I also found there was a heck of a lot more Generals on both sides than I would have anticipated, hundreds of them. I even found out that Caleb Blood Smith from Indiana served as the Secretary of the Interior for President Lincoln. A third of the soldiers from Indiana were casualties. More men were mustered in WWII about twice as many as the Civil War but more Hoosiers died in the Civil War than WWII.

Oliver P Morton was Governor and an ardent Unionist. He did all he could to help the Union and the veterans of the war. Lincoln asked for 7,500 men at the start of the conflict and Indiana almost immediately 2,000 had volunteered. Indiana had 26,000 dead and 50,000 wounded and wounded meant horrible and many limb lost wounds at the time. Indiana was one of the most Union states around even so there were those who were southern sympathizers. Our soldiers fought in both the eastern and western theaters.

Governor Morton not only raised men and material but also managed to borrow, beg and cajole millions of dollars for the cause. He also organized hospitals and the Soldiers and Sailors Children’s Home in Knightstown, northern Rush County. We also had our number of those who supported the south and because of that the South had Morgan’s Raiders invade Indiana but they found little sympathy when they crossed the Ohio River in 1863. Morgan raided all the way up to North Vernon, not all that far from Rush County.

Indiana units were at Second Bull Run, Gettysburg where the 14th Indiana Infantry seized Cemetery Hill on the first day of that struggle and saved the Union position. The 19th Indiana served the Iron Brigade a famous fighting Brigade of that war. It was so decimated in battle it was consolidated into the 20th Indiana. And John Williams of Indiana was the last official casualty of the war he died on May 13, 1865 fighting in Texas. There was even a colored regiment from Indiana the 28th colored Regiment was formed from Indiana colored peoples.

The Southern part of the state along the Ohio was booming during this war by river boat construction. Jeffersonville and New Albany were also large ship builders for WWII in particular the landing craft used at D Day many came from JeffBoat on the Ohio. Hoosiers being Hoosiers and being heavily Union even so we were the first state to elect a Democrat Governor after the war. Morton became a Senator and voted for Johnson’s Impeachment.

Some Generals from Indiana were Solomon Meredith, Jefferson C. Davis who was unfortunate in his name being the same as the Confederate President even so was a factor in that Davis’s loss. Silas Colgrove and Lewis (Lew) Wallace who also was New Mexico Territory Governor and wrote Ben Hur. General Hackelman from Rush County whose home is the log cabin in Memorial Park was not mentioned. He was the only Indiana General killed during the Civil War.

Southern General John Hunt Morgan and his raiders who raided for a week or so in Southern Indiana was finally rounded up and captured near Cincinnati less than a month after his foray into our fair state. Our state furnished 152 Infantry Regiments, 13 Cavalry, 1 Heavy Artillery and 26 light Artillery units for the Union. There was no mention of the Southern Hoosiers who fought for the Confederacy evidently they were scattered all over the Southern Armies.

I found it interesting and informative but also was disturbed by the number of typos that I found, and I am not looking for them and they must be easily spotted. Rush County sent many to the Civil War and in turn lost many too. If you drive through East Hill Cemetery and check out the old Government tombstones you will note many Civil War Veterans buried there. We lost our share of men as did many other counties in Indiana. The statue of the GAR near the front gate of East Hill shows how many of our young men were lost in this conflict. I say that The Civil War State by State was worth what I paid for it. I found many things about all the areas of the time I did not know. And I hope you learned something from my attempt at history.