Indiana in the American Civil War

Indiana in the American Civil War

Indiana played a critical role during the American Civil War. Despite significant Copperhead activity in the state and southern Indiana's ancestral ties to the Southern Confederacy, it did not secede from the Union. During the course of the war, Indiana contributed approximately 210,000 soldiers to the Union and millions of dollars to equip and supply them. Residents of Indiana, Hoosiers, served in every major engagement of the war and almost every engagement in the western theater. With rich agricultural yields and being the fourth most populated Union state, Indiana's participation was critical to northern success.

On the home front, the state experienced political strife when Governor Oliver P. Morton suppressed the Democrat-controlled state legislature, leaving the state without the authority to collect taxes. The state edged near bankruptcy during 1861, but the Governor chose to use private funds rather than rely on the Indiana General Assembly. The state experienced two minor raids and one major raid in 1863, which caused a brief panic in the capitol.

The American Civil War altered Indiana's society, politics, and economics, beginning a population shift northward and leading to a decline in the southern part of the state. The wartime tariffs led to an increase in the population's standard of living and began the growth of industry in the state. [Gray, pp.172–174.]

Indiana's contributions

Indiana was the first western state to mobilize for the coming war. News of the attack on Fort Sumter reached Indiana on April 12, 1861. The next day two mass meetings where held in the state where the state's position was decided: Indiana would remain in the Union and would immediately contribute men to suppress the rebellion. The next day, April 14th, Governor Morton issued a call to arms in order to raise men to meet the quota set by President Abraham Lincoln.Gray, p.156.] Indiana had the fourth largest population in the Union states as well as a rich agricultural yield which became even more valuable to the Union after the loss of the richest farmlands of the South. These factors made Indiana critical to the Union's success.Gray, p.159.]

Initially, Lincoln requested that Indiana send 7,500 men to join the Union Army. Five hundred men assembled the first day and within three weeks over 22,000 had volunteered—so many in fact that thousands had to be turned away.cite web |url= |title="Indiana History Chapter Five" |publisher=Indiana Center for History - Northern Indiana Historical Society |accessdate=2008-05-19] Before the war ended Indiana would contribute a total of 208,367 men, 15% of the state's total population, to fight in and serve in the war. [cite web |url= |publisher=Civil War |title=Indiana in the Civil War |accessdate=2008-05-20] Most of these soldiers were volunteers and 11,718 men reenlisted at least once. [Gray, p.164.] The state only turned to conscription towards the end of the war and a relatively small total of 3,003 men were drafted. [Gray, p.161.] These volunteers and conscripts allowed the state to supply the Union with 126 infantry regiments, 26 batteries of artillery, and 13 regiments of cavalry. [Hoosiers In The Civil War, By Arville L. Funk, 1967]

Casualties were over 35% among Hoosiers: 24,416 (about 6.75% of total war casualties) would lose their lives in the conflict and over 50,000 more were wounded. [cite web |url= |publisher=Civil War |title=Indiana in the Civil War |accessdate=2008-05-20]

Over 60% of Indiana's regiments were mustered and trained in Indianapolis. The state government financed a large portion of the costs of calling up the troops, barracking, feeding, and equipping them, prior to their being sent as reinforcements to the standing Union armies. Indiana also maintained a state-owned arsenal in Indianapolis that served the Indiana home guard and as a back up supply for the Union army. [Bodenhamer, p. 441.]

Abraham Lincoln established one of the first national cemeteries in New Albany for the war dead. Port Fulton, Indiana, in present-day Jeffersonville, was home to the third largest Union military hospital, Jefferson General Hospital. Indianapolis hosted Camp Morton, a military prison for captured Confederates soldiers.


Indiana regiments were present on almost every battlefield and saw continual action outside of the state. Indiana only experienced one significant conflict in the war which caused only a brief panic in Indianapolis.


Confederate officer Adam Johnson briefly captured Newburgh, Indiana on July 18, 1862 in the Newburgh Raid. Johnson convinced the Union troops in town that he had cannon on the surrounding hills, when in fact they were merely stovepipes. The raid convinced the federal government of the necessity to supply Indiana with a permanent force of Union regulars to counter future raiding. [cite book |author=Eicher, David |title="The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War" |pages=310–311 |isbn=0743218469 |publisher=Simon and Schuster |year=2001]

The one major incursion into Indiana by the Confederate Army was Morgan's Raid. The raid occurred in July 1863 and was a Confederate cavalry offensive by troops under the command of Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan. In preparation for Morgan's planned raid, Hines' Raid was carried out troops under Thomas Hines in June 1863. [cite book |author=Horan, James. |title="Confederate Agent: a Discovery in History" |publisher=Crown Publishers |year=1954, 3rd Printing 1960 |pages=24, 25]

On July 8, 1863, Morgan crossed the Ohio River at Mauckport with 2,400 troopers. His landing was initially contested by a small party of militia who withdrew when Morgan began an artillery dual from the southern shore. The militia quickly retreated towards Corydon where a larger body of militia was gathering to contest Morgan's advance. Morgan advanced rapidly on Corydon where he engaged in the Battle of Corydon. After a short fierce fight Morgan took command of the heights south of the town. Corydon promptly surrendered after Morgan's artillery fired two warning shots into the town. The town was sacked, but little damage was done to the town itself. Morgan continued his raid and moved northward to Salem where he burnt most of that town. [Funk, p.75.]

His movements appeared to be a charge at Indianapolis and panic spread through the capitol. Governor Morton had called up the state militia as soon as Morgan's intentions where known. More than 60,000 men of all ages came out to repel Morgan's raid. [Foote, p.680.] Morgan considered attacking Camp Morton in Indianapolis, to free Confederate prisoners of war but decided against it. After destroying Salem, Morgan turned abruptly eastward and began moving towards Ohio. He continued to raid and pillage his way to border until he left the state on July 13 as several Union armies began to converge on him. By then his raid on the north was turning into a desperate attempt to escape back to the south. [Funk, p.76.]

Indiana regiments

Many of Indiana's regiments served with distinction in the war. The 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment served as part of the Iron Brigade. The 19th made critical contributions to some of the most important engagements including Second Battle of Bull Run, but was almost completely destroyed in the Battle of Gettysburg. [Foote, pp.475–476.]

9th Indiana Infantry Regiment Company A.]

The 14th Indiana Infantry Regiment, also called the Gallant Fourteenth, was another important regiment in the war. In the same Battle of Gettysburg, it was the regiment that secured Cemetery Hill and prevented the possible destruction of the Union army. [cite book |author=Baxter, Nancy Niblack |title="Gallant Fourteenth: The Story of an Indiana Civil War Regiment" |publisher=Emmis Books |year=1995 |isbn=0-9617367-8-X] Another famous regiment was the 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment who fought in many major battles and were among the first Hoosiers to see action in the war.

The 28th Indiana Colored Infantry Regiment was formed on March 31, 1864, near what is now Fountain Square at Camp Fremont. It was the only black regiment formed in Indiana during the war and lost 212 men total during the conflict. The regiment was signed on for 36 months, but the war was effectively over in eleven months time cutting their length of service short. [Bodenhamer, p.442.]

Indiana regiments were involved in every major engagement of the war and nearly every battle in the western theater. The last casualty of the war was a Hoosier in the 34th Regiment Indiana Infantry. Private John J. Williams died at the Battle of Palmito Ranch on May 13, 1865. [Foote, pp. 1019–1020.] [cite web |url= |publisher=PBS |title=Fact Sheet |accessdate=2008-06-17]


Due to being across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, the Indiana cities of Jeffersonville, New Albany, and Port Fulton saw increased activity. Some of this was due to Kentucky's desire to stay neutral. Also, Kentucky had many Confederate sympathizers. Militarily, it was safer to store war supplies in towns where a major river, the Ohio River, was between the supply cities rather then ebhind the supply city, as would be the case for Louisville. Camp Joe Holt was established between Jeffersonville and New Albany in what is present-day the visitor's center of the Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville. [cite book |title="Personal Recollections of the Civil War" |author=William Franklin Gore |publisher=University of Michigan |year=1866] Towards the end of the war, Port Fulton had the third largest hospital during the war, Jefferson General Hospital, using land confiscated by expelled U.S. Senator and Confederate sympathizer Jesse D. Bright.

outhern influence

In 1861, when Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin refused the order to allow pro-Union forces to mobilize for the cause of the Union (as he did for the Confederate side as well), Morton issued orders to allow loyal Kentuckians to join the Indiana regiments. Many Kentucky troops, especially from Louisville, joined at Camp Joe Holt. Morton repeatedly came to the rescue of the Kentucky pro-Union government during the war and became known as the “Governor of Indiana and Kentucky.” Morton was also called the “Soldier’s Friend” because he organized the General Military Agency of Indiana, the Soldiers’ Home, Ladies’ Home, and Orphans’ Home to help meet the needs of Indiana's soldiers and their families. Morton would also establish an arsenal in Indianapolis to supply the Indiana Militia, Home Guard, and even selling some to the Federal Government. [cite book |title="Life of Oliver P. Morton" |author=William Dudley Foulke |publisher=The Bowen-Merrill Company |year=1899 |pages=155]

The Civil War era showed the extent of Southern influence on Indiana. Much of southern and central Indiana had strong ties to the south. Many of the regions' early settlers had come from Virginia and Kentucky. Indiana and Kentucky had always had a special friendship and the Hoosiers were influenced by the actions of the Kentucky government. Governor Morton wrote to President Abraham Lincoln that no other free state was so populated with southerners, and they kept Morton from being as forceful against secession as he would have wanted to be. [cite book |author=Sharp, Walter R. |title=Henry S. Lane and the Formation of the Republican Party in Indiana, "The Mississippi Valley Historical Review" |month=September | year=1920 |pages=94]

Indiana's Senator Jesse D. Bright had been a leader among the Indiana Democrats for several years prior to the outbreak of the war. In 1862 Bright was expelled from the United States Senate on allegations of disloyalty. He had written a letter to "His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederation", in which he offered the services of a friend to sell the South superior firearms. He was the last senator to be expelled from the Senate. Bright was replaced with another Democrat, former governor Joseph A. Wright.

Conflict with the Democrats

On April 21, 1861, Morton called an special session of the Indiana General Assembly to allow him to raise additional regiments. Initially the Legislature, which was controlled by the Democratic Party, was supportive of his measures and passed the legislation Morton requested. After the Legislature adjourned in May, the "Indiana Daily Sentinel" and other prominent Democrats in the state began to change their opinion of the war. The "Sentinel" ran anti-war articles entitled "Let Them Go In Peace", among others. The Democratic position was clarified at a state convention in the summer of 1862. Chaired by Thomas Hendricks, the convention members stated that they supported the integrity of the Union and the war effort, but they were opposed to the abolition of slavery. [Gray, p.160.]

During 1862, Morton never called the Indiana General Assembly into session. Morton feared that the Legislature's Democratic majority would, at the least, hinder the war effort, and at the worst, secede from the Union. He also issued secret instructions to Republican legislators asking them to stay away from the Capitol to prevent the General Assembly from attaining the quorum needed for them to meet on their own. [Gray, p.162.] Because Morton did not allow the General Assembly to meet, no budget or taxing provisions were passed. This rapidly led to a crisis where the state was on the edge of bankruptcy. Going beyond his constitutional powers, Morton solicited millions of dollars in private loans. His attempt was successful and Morton was able privately to fund the state government and the war effort. [Gray, p.163.] In one notable incident, Morton had soldiers disrupt a Democratic state convention, in an incident that would latter be referred to as the Battle of Pogue's Run. [Bodenhamer, pp.441–443.] . Morton urged the pro-war Democrats to abandon their party for the sake of unity for the duration of the war.

The split with the Democrats worsened after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Many of the formerly pro-war Democrats moved too openly oppose the war. The same year Morton began a crackdown on dissidents. [Gray, p. 170.] While most of the state was decidedly pro-Union, a group of Southern sympathizers known as the Sons of the Golden Circle had a strong presence in northern Indiana. This group proved enough of a distraction that General Lew Wallace would have to spend considerable time in curtailing their activities. By June 1863 the group was sufficiently disempowered. Many were arrested arbitrarily, the press was prevented from printing anti-war material, and habeas corpus was denied anyone suspected of disloyalty. When Confederate special agent Thomas Hines went to Paoli in June 1863, seeking support for Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's eventual July 1863 raid into Indiana, he was met with indifference and given nothing from the Circle. [cite book |title="Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln's Opponents in the North |author=Jennifer L. Weber, James M. McPherson |publisher=Oxford University Press USA |year=2006 |isbn=0195306686]

While Morton was having people arrested, the Democrats called Morton a "Dictator" and an "Underhanded Mobster" while Republicans countered that the Democrats were using "treasonable and obstructionist tactics in the conduct of the war".

New Albany and Jeffersonville were pressured by the "Cincinnati Daily Gazette" to stop trading with the South, especially with Louisville, as even Louisville was too southern for Cincinnati’s taste, due to Kentucky’s proclaimed neutrality. A fraudulent steamboat company was set up to go between Madison and Louisville, with its boat, the "Masonic Gem", making regular trips down to Confederate ports to trade. Throughout the war, New Albany and Jeffersonville were the origin points of many Northern goods smuggled into the Confederacy. [cite book |author=Coulter, E. Merton |chapter=Effects of Secession Upon the Commerce of the Mississippi Valley. |title="The Mississippi Valley Historical Review" |year=Dec 1916 |pages=295, 29]

Copperhead activity

Technically, not all of Indiana stayed with the Union during the War. Boggstown and the rest of Sugar Creek Township in Shelby County (twenty miles southeast of Indianapolis) decided to secede from the Union on February 16, 1861. However, the value the South received from this secession was only a brief piece of propaganda. There was a movement to rescind the secession resolution in 1961, but it never passed. [ [ History] , Boggstown Cabaret. Accessed December 4, 2003.]

While not a particularly numerous group, there were several Hoosiers who chose to fight for the South. Most had decided to go to Kentucky to join Confederate regiments formed in that state. Sgt. Henry L. Stone of Greencastle was with John Hunt Morgan when he raided Indiana. The exact number of Hoosiers to serve in Confederate armies is unknown, but there are numerous references to such men. The Indianapolis National Guard lost three men who decided to go south. Hoosier brothers-in-law Thomas Smith and Garrett Vandiver fought in Mississippi and Arkansas. Francis A. Shoup briefly led the Indianapolis Zouave militia, but left for Florida prior to the start of the war, and ultimately become a Confederate Brigadier General. Two Lafayette residents were captured during the war and sent to Union prisoner camps. They were released after one swore allegiance to the Union, the other was freed with the help of his family. [ [ Hoosiers in Grey] , Indiana Division SCV. Accessed Dec 4, 2003.]

Republican takeover

For the loans needed to run the state during the long period of no legislative support, Morton turned to James Lanier a wealthy banker from Madison. On two occasions Lanier loaned state over 1 million dollars without security. When the Republicans returned to power in 1864, he was paid back and the grateful state has preserved his Madison residence as historic site. Without Lanier's support the government would certainly have bankrupted and hurt the Union war effort. There was little the legislature could do but watch as the Governor ran the state with private financing.

In 1864, the Republicans swept into power in the statehouse. The Republican takeover came at a critical turning point in the war as the North was slowly tightening the stranglehold on the South. The new government fully supported Morton in his policies and worked to meet the state's commitments to the war effort. They validated the loans Morton had taken privately and assumed them as state debt and commended Morton for his actions in the interim.


News of Robert E. Lee's surrender reached Indianapolis at 11 pm on April 9, 1865. "The Indianapolis Journal" called the following celebrations within the city "demented". The celebrations ceased after news of the assassination of Lincoln arrived on April 15th. Lincoln's funeral train passed through the capitol on April 30 and 100,000 attending his bier at the Indiana State House. [Bodenhamer, p.443.]


The Civil War forever altered Indiana’s economy. Before the war New Albany was the largest city in the state, primarily due to its commerce with the South. Over half of the wealthiest Hoosiers had lived in New Albany at the start of the war. [cite book |author=Miller, Harold |title=Industrial Development of New Albany, Indiana. "Economic Geography" |year=Jan. 1938 |pages=48] During the war, the trade with the South dwindled, and after the war much of Indiana saw New Albany as too friendly to the South. New Albany’s robust steamboat industry ended in 1870. The last steamboat built in New Albany was named, appropriately, the "Robert E. Lee". The city never regained its stature, remaining a city of 40,000 and only its antebellum, early-Victorian Mansion-Row remains from its boom period. [cite book |author=Findling, John ed. |title="A History of New Albany, Indiana". |publisher=Indiana University Southeast |year=2003 |pages=53 ]

The war caused Indiana's industrial machine take off. The northward population shift was accelerated as new industry began to develop around the Great Lakes and the railroad depots created during the war. The population shift led to many cities springing up across the northern part of the state. In the north Colonel Eli Lilly, an officer from the war, founded Eli Lilly and Company which would grow into the state's largest corporation. Charles Conn, another war veteran founded C.G. Conn Ltd in Elkhart which gave rise to a new industry there, building musical instruments. The south by contrast remained largely agricultural for another 40 years. [Gray, pp.170–171.]


When the war ended, the state's Democrats were upset over their treatment during the war. The Democratic Party in Indiana staged a quick comeback and Indiana became the first state after the Civil War to elect a Democratic Governor. Thomas Hendricks's rise to power initiated a period of Democratic control that reversed many of the political gains made by Republicans during the war.Gray, pp.172–173.]

Indiana's Senators were strong supporters of the radical Reconstruction plans proposed by Congress. Both Oliver Morton (who was elected to the Senate after his term as Governor) and Senator Schuyler Colfax voted in favor of the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. Morton was especially disappointed in their failure to remove him.

When the south came back under firm Democratic control by the end of the 1870s, Indiana, which was closely split between the parties, became a key swing state that would decide the balance of power in Congress and the Presidency. Almost every presidential election between the Civil War and World War I included one or more Hoosiers as the parties tried to win the support of Indiana's electorate. In 1888, while in the height of the state's post-war political influence, Benjamin Harrison was elected President, the first native Hoosier to assume the office.


More than half the state's households contributed members to fight in the war. [Gray, p.163.] This made the effects of the conflict where widely felt throughout the state. After the war, veterans' programs were initiated to help the wounded soldiers with housing, meals, and other basic needs. Orphanages and asylums were established to help the wives and children of the war dead. [Gray, p.173.]

The tariffs put in place during the wartime economy increased the profits on most of Indiana's domestically produced goods. This led to a higher standard of living for many Hoosiers in rural Indiana. [Gray, pp.172–174.]

The 1870s saw the beginning of the Women's Suffrage Movement in Indiana. Suffrage legislation was introduced in the Indiana General Assembly during the term of Governor Thomas Hendricks, but the bill was defeated. The decade also saw the start of the Prohibition Movement and the founding of many temperance organizations. In the immediate aftermath of the war many localities banned the sale or production of liquors. [Gray, p.172.]

See also

*American Civil War
*History of Indiana
*History of slavery in Indiana
*Indianapolis in the American Civil War



*cite book |last=Bodenhamer |first=David |title=The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis |publisher=Indian University Press |year=1994
*cite book |title=The Civil War: A Narrative |author=Shelby Foote |publisher=Random House |isbn=039474621x |year=1963 |volume=II |location=New York |page=680
*cite book |title=An Ohio farmer's account of Morgan's Raid |last=Funk |first=Arville Lynn |year=1961 |publisher=Christian Book Press |location=Rochester, Indiana
*cite book |title=Indiana History: A Book of Readings |first=Ralph D. |last=Gray |isbn=025332629X |publisher=Indian University Press |year=1995 |location=Indiana

Further reading

* [ Indiana in the Civil War]

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