A Walk Through the Civil War in Indiana

Indiana played an important role in the support side of the Civil War but not so much in the actual battles fought side as there was a strong anti-war sentiment in the state.  The state government opted to allocate funds for equipment, food and supplies for the troops in the field.  Because Indiana's geographic location, large population and agricultural production, it was considered critical to the success of the Union.  Not only did many men sign up to fight in the war, but there was also a railroad network that connected the Ohio River to the Great Lakes which allowed the transport of these men and all of the equipment and food needed. 

Indiana was a strong supporter of the Union regardless of the southern part of the state's ancestral ties to the south.  Even with the strong support of the side of freedom, Indiana suffered significant political strife during the war era.  Governor Oliver P. Morton decided to hold back the Democratic controlled state legislature which didn't want to be part of the war.  Debates over slavery and emancipation, allowing African Americans to serve in the military, and the drafting of men to serve led to violence and in 1863, after the state government failed to pass a budget leaving the state without the authority to collect taxes, Governor Morton acted on his own, without authority, to secure funds through federal and private loans.  Doing so allowed the state to operate and avert a financial crisis. 

Even with the wartime manufacturing that brought prosperity to the state, the Civil War caused great difficulty with the people's views.  Many people started moving from the southern part of the state and headed north.  This left a smaller population in the south and created a more industrial north. 

When news reached Indiana of the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 12, 1861, many residents of the, then western, state were surprised, but they immediately got together to do something.  The day following the attack, two mass meetings were held in Indianapolis.  This meeting decided the fate of the state:  they would remain in the Union.  On April 15 of that year, Oliver P. Morton, called for volunteers to meet a state quote set by the President, Abraham Lincoln. The President called for 75,000 men to join the Union Army.  Indiana sent 12,000, nearly three times as many as were needed.  In total nearly 210,000 men volunteered over the course of the war as soldiers, sailors and marines. 

These soldiers fought in a total of 308 engagements, most of them in what was known as the "western theater" between the Mississippi River and the Appalachian Mountains.  Soldiers from Indiana fought in the very first skirmish, the Battle of Philippi in West Virginia on June 3, 1861 and also in one of the last battles, the Battle of Palmetto Ranch in Texas on May 13, 1865.  But the state only suffered a little over seven thousand battle casualties.  The number of dead from disease (over 17,000) was much higher. 

The state only experienced two minor skirmishes (Newburgh Raid and Hines' Raid) by the Confederated forces and one major raid in 1863, known as Morgan's Raid.  This raid cause a great amount of panic in the southern part of the state and in Indianapolis.  Newburgh Raid, which occurred on July 18, 1862, involved the capturing of Newburgh, Indiana by a Confederate officer named Adam Johnson.  This marked Newburgh as being the first town in a Northern State to be captured during the Civil War.  This capture convinced the federal government of the need to supply Indiana with a permanent force of Union Soldiers to protect against future raids.  Because of the newly established presence in the state, on June 17, 1863, Captain Thomas Hines and about 80 men crossed the Ohio River and were promptly captured without a fight.  This was a precursor to the largest raid on Indiana soil during the Civil War.  Known as Morgan's Raid, men under the command of General John Hunt Morgan crossed the Ohio River and landed at Mauckport, Indiana on July 8, 1863.  This invasion led to the Battle of Corydon where men of the Indiana Militia did their best to protect the town of Corydon from Morgan's advancing forces.  The citizens and militia surrendered when Morgan's artillery fired shots.  Damage was done to the buildings, but it was very little.   Morgan continued on his way north and burned most of the town of Salem, Indiana.  Panic began to spread when Morgan continued on his way north toward Indianapolis.  Briefly he considered heading to Camp Morton to attempt to free Confederate soldiers held there, but he changed his mind and turned east toward Ohio.  Soldiers chased him and his raid quickly turned to an escape plan.  He was finally captured in Ohio on July 26 of that same year.

Indiana did most of the the training of their soldiers in Indianapolis, but there were several other training camps set up around the state.  They were in Fort Wayne, Gosport, Jeffersonville, Kendallville, Lafayette, Richmond, South Bend, Terre Haute, Wabash, and one in La Porte County.  The state financed a large portion of the costs to make sure that these soldiers were trained and cared for by housing them, feeding them and equipping them all before they were assigned to a regiment.  But not only were the men actively involved with the war effort.  Women took on responsibilities as well.  Some of them ran the family farms and businesses so that they would be able to survive during the time that the men of the house were gone, or even after the war should those men not return.  Others jumped into the fray as nurses and volunteers for charitable organizations, most notably the local Ladies' Aid Society.  Many of these nurses were stationed at various care facilities, including, but not limited to Port Fulton in Clark County, Madison in Jefferson County, Vincennes in Knox County, Indianapolis in Marion County, Newburgh in Warrick County and Evansville in Vanderburgh County. 

As part of the support effort in the state and since there was not much in the way of fighting within the state boundaries, Indiana had one of the Union's largest prison camps, Camp Morton, in Indianapolis.  Here large numbers of captured Confederate soldiers were held.  Prisoners of war were occasionally held in Lafayette, Richmond and Terre Haute when the need called for it.  There were also two national military cemeteries established in Indiana.  In 1882, New Albany National Cemetery in New Albany, Indiana was put into service, one of fourteen in that year.  In 1866, the federal government authorized one for Indianapolis, Crown Hill National Cemetery, which is on the grounds of the already existing Crown Hill Cemetery. 

Indiana had a total of 156 regiments muster for service.  Some were for three month terms while others were for a full three year service.  There were some that mustered and were promptly split up and sent off to other units or disbanded completely.  Some of the regiments served in some of the most famous battles of the war.  The 19th, 20th and 27th suffered the highest casualties.  The 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th were the first regiments to be mustered into service for a three month term, though many re-enlisted for an additional three years.  The 13th Indiana Cavalry was the final to be mustered out of service on November 10, 1865.  The 11th Indiana Zouaves under the command of Lew Wallace (who later went on to right the novel Ben-Hur) was the first organized during the war and the first to march into battle.  They fought at the Battle of Fort Donelson, the Siege of Vickburg, the Battle of Shiloh and others.  The 9th Infantry was one of the first to see action in the war, fighting in the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Stones River, the Atlanta Campaign and the Battle of Nashville, to name a few.  The 14th Infantry, nicknamed "Gibralter Brigade" fought in the Battle of Antietam, securing Cemetery Hill on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, where it lost 123 of its men.  The 19th Infantry, volunteers all of them, were part of the Iron Brigade and fought in the Second Battle of Bull Run though they were almost completed decimated at the Battle of Gettysburg taking 210 casualties. 

Most of the regiments were formed when groups went into towns and called for volunteers, but there were also ethnic units that were formed.  The 32nd Indiana was a German American infantry troop, white the 35th was mostly Irish American.  The 28th Regiment were the colored troops and was the only black regiment serving in Indiana. 

The Civil War forever changed Indiana, both economically and socially.  With the influence of the southern states and Confederate sympathizers, the southern part of the state lost population and with it went the economic privileges.  Indianapolis, central in the state, doubled in size and financial institutions popped up all over along with fresh business.  The state government turned Democrat in quick comeback, electing Thomas Hendricks as governor.  Civil War general, Benjamin Harrison, was elected president in 1888 and served until 1893.  The social impact was greatly felt among the households in the state as more than half of those households had at least one member fight in the war.  More Hoosiers died in the Civil War than in any other conflict.  Memorials were erected around the state to honor these soldiers that fought and died in the war, the largest being the Soldiers' and Sailors' monument in downtown Indianapolis.  It was completed in 1901.

Read more about Indiana in the Civil War:
Indiana in the Civil War - Wikipedia
Battles Fought in Indiana - Lost Souls Genealogy 
Indiana Forts  - North American Forts (not all are the Civil War)
Battle Unit Details - National Park Service
Civil War from Fort Sumter to Emancipation - Indiana Historical Society


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