The Civil War in Southeastern Indiana
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Southeast Indiana Day Trips
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Greetings, today I want to talk about some of the Civil War related historical sites of Southeastern Indiana. I will use the historical markers located around the region as a reference point. My book, Southeast Indiana Day Trips from my Road Trip Indiana Series includes every historical marker installed by the Indiana Historical Bureau in the region. In the book, I include the text of the marker as well as some background information to give the marker more context. Historical markers, ignored by many, can give some interesting insights into the events, people and places of a city, town or village. Many of the topics of the markers are not well known.
I have already covered some of these markers in another podcast, so I will not include those in this episode. We will start out in Greensburg, Indiana in Decatur County. A marker honoring Civil War General John T. Wilder is located on
the North side of 446 E. Main Street/SR 46 at Poplar Street, Greensburg. (Decatur County, Indiana)
John T. Wilder
Wilder (1830-1917), resident of Greensburg circa 1858-1869, built this home 1865-1866. He was millwright and inventor; provided major employment in the area. Enlisted in Civil War; appointed lieutenant colonel of Seventeenth Indiana Volunteer Infantry 1861 by Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton.
In 1863, Wilder commanded a brigade which included mounted infantry equipped with new Spencer repeating rifles. Use of rifles helped troops defeat Confederates at Hoover’s Gap; earned them nickname Wilder’s Lightning Brigade. Wilder was breveted Brigadier General 1864, after Chickamauga
John T. Wilder, the son of Reuben and Mary (Merritt) Wilder John T. could claim descent from heroes. His grandfather and great-grandfather saw action in the Revolutionary War. His father fought in the War of 1812. When the Civil War erupted, John T. Wilder would join their ranks.
General John T. Wilder (January 31, 1830 – October 20, 1917)
From his home in the Catskill Mountains near Hunter, New York, John T. Wilder left his home at nineteen for Ohio. In Ohio, he would find his career. He worked as a draftsman and then he became apprenticed to a millwright. From Ohio, he migrated to Indiana in 1858 to live in the town of Greensburg. In Greensburg, he established a foundry, which became quite successful. While living in Greensburg he invented and patented many different machines. He sold his machinery all over Indiana and in neighboring states.
The War Breaks Out
Wilder enlisted, receiving the rank of private. The men of his company, Company A, 17th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, elected him captain. Governor Oliver P. Morton commissioned him as a lieutenant colonel and by spring of 1862, the company found itself at the Battle of Shiloh. His performance at that battle earned him a promotion to full Colonel and command of the 17th Indiana.
Extensive Duty in the War
Wilder and his 17th saw extensive action during the war. Two incidents stand out. At Munfordville, Tennessee Wilder commanded three regiments totaling about 4000 men behind extensive fortifications. Confederate General Braxton Bragg advanced towards him with approximately 22,000 soldiers. Bragg surrounded Wilder and then demanded surrender. Wilder demanded to see the Confederate positions. Rebel soldiers led a blindfolded Wilder behind their lines and removed the blindfold to show Wilder their overwhelming superiority.
Wilder, after considering his situation, said, “Well, it seems to me that I ought to surrender.”
He did so and the Confederates held him prisoner for two months. They exchanged him for some Confederate prisoners and he resumed duty.
Mounted Soldiers and Repeating Rifles
Upon his return to duty, he received command of the First Brigade of the Army of the Cumberland. This brigade included his old unit, the 17th Indiana. During this time, an idea to mount his brigade inspired him to experiment. A first trial using mules from the wagon trains failed. His superior officer, Major General William S. Rosecrans, supported the idea and gave him leave to forage the countryside for horses. The Army was in rebel country, so they just commandeered whatever horses they found. The muskets in use at the time proved too clumsy for mounted soldiers, so Wilder searched for alternatives. He found it in the Spencer repeating rifle. Wanting this rifle, which held seven rounds of rim fire .56-caliber metallic cartridges, he requested his men vote on purchasing them. To avoid army red tape, which could take months and result in a denial, the men voted in approval. Wilder appealed to the banks in Greensburg, and they responded by lending out the thirty-five dollars needed by each weapon to purchase the weapons. Using these weapons, his brigade helped avert total Union disaster at Chickamauga and successfully held Hoover’s Gap against a devastating rebel assault.
Sickness and Resignation
Wilder had contracted typhoid fever in 1862 and suffered bouts of severe dysentery. Exhausted by his ill health, he resigned his commission in late 1864. He retired to Greensburg where he lived until 1869. He eventually left the area and went south, eventually serving as mayor of Chattanooga in 1871. President William McKinley appointed him commissioner of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. He died in Jacksonville, Florida at eighty-seven years old and was interred in Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Francis Asbury Shoup
Near Laurel in Franklin county we find a marker noting the birthplace of Brigadier General CSA Francis Asbury Shoup
You can find this on in the Conwell Cemetery, State Rd. 121, Laurel (Franklin County, Indiana) Just outside of Laurel on the northwest side, just off the highway.
Remembered for service in Confederate States of America army, 1861-1865, and “Shoupade” fortification design; fought in battles of Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Atlanta. Advocated recruitment of African Americans for CSA army. After the war, he was a university professor, published author, and Episcopal rector.
Born near present-day Laurel 1834. Attended Indiana Asbury University, Greencastle. Graduated 1855 from United States Military Academy at West Point. Served in Federal army 1855-1860; resigned to pursue law career. In Indianapolis circa 1860. Died 1896; buried at Sewanee University Cemetery, Tennessee.
Brigadier General CSA Francis Asbury Shoup (March 22, 1834 – September 4, 1896)
The eldest of nine children born to George Grove Shoup and Jane Shoup near Laurel, Indiana, Francis attended Indiana Asbury University in Greencastle, Indiana. After graduation, he attended the United States Military Academy. As a member of the First United States Artillery, he fought in the Seminole Wars in Florida. He retired from the Army on January 10, 1860 to pursue a law career in Indianapolis. He enlisted in the local militia. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 the members of the militia presented him with a set of revolvers with holsters and trappings. They assumed he would join the Union Army as an officer and the weapons they gave him befitted a mounted officer.
Joining the Confederacy
He astounded them by declaring he had “aristocratic inclinations and admiration for the South,” he instead traveled to St. Augustine, Florida and enlisted in the Confederate Army. The Florida governor commissioned him as a Lieutenant. He served at the Battle of Shiloh and Battle of Prairie Grove, from which he emerged as a brigadier general. While serving at Vicksburg the Union Army captured him. Among the Union troops, he met some of his former militia members from Indiana. They spurned him. The Union Army paroled him and he went to fight in the Battle of Atlanta.
At the conclusion of that battle, the Confederate Army charged him with building a series of fortifications along the Chattahoochee River. He built thirty-six forts of his own design. Called Shoupades, these arrowhead shaped forts formed an impregnable line along the river. Using 1000 slaves as laborers, Shoup built the line of forts to stop the advance of General Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman did attack them. He decided further attacks against them would be futile, and using a classic flanking maneuver, went around them and attacked elsewhere.
A marker in Jefferson County notes the birthplace of the commander of the 19th Infantry Regiment, a part of the famous Iron Brigade. It is located at the SE corner of Alois O. Bachman Bridge at SR 7, Hanging Rock Hill, Presbyterian & Cragmont Streets, Madison. (Jefferson County, Indiana)
Alois O. Bachman
Born in Madison 1839. Family home on West Main Street. Attended Hanover College 1856-1858 to pursue practice of law. Attended Kentucky Military Institute in Frankfort. Organized Madison City Greys 1858, which became part of Sixth Regiment Indiana Volunteers of Union Army in the Civil War.
Lieutenant Colonel Bachman, commanding the Nineteenth Indiana Infantry Regiment of the Iron Brigade of the Army of the Potomac, was mortally wounded leading a charge during the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. He was the highest ranking Hoosier in the Union Army killed in this battle. His grave is in adjacent Springdale Cemetery. Bridge named for him 1998.
Alois O. Bachman (1839 September 17, 1862)
The second youngest of the seven children of Alois O. Bachman (1790 – 1860) and Emily Thiebaud Bachman (1800 – 1850) he relieved Colonel Solomon Meredith’s command of the 19th Indiana Infantry. this unit was famous as the “Iron Brigade” that saw extensive action during the American Civil War. The unit spearheaded the attack down Hagerstown Pike early on the morning of September 17, 1862.
Also known as the 4th ‘Black Hat’ Brigade, the unit formed up on October 1, 1861 in Washington, D. C. It consisted of the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiments, the 19th Indiana, Battery B of the 4th U.S. Light Artillery. The 24th Michigan joined it later in the war. It served under the command of Brigadier General John Gibbon in its first battle during the Second Battle of Bull Run. The unit held steady against repeated assaults by Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s superior force on August 28, 1862. The unit earned it’s during the Battle of South Mountain, where it advanced up the National Road, driving Confederate troops before it. Major General George B. McClellan observed the action and upon learning its name, said, “They must be made of iron.” The unit’s black 1858 model Hardee hats issued to Army regulars led to the other nickname.
The unit became known for its stern discipline and tenacious fighting. The unit suffered the highest percentage of casualties of any unit during the war. The Iron Brigade fought during the entire war, including the Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Overland, Richmond-Petersburg, and Appomattox campaigns.
General John Hunt Morgan began his famous raid across southern Indiana in early July from Kentucky.
Morgan launched his raid from Burkesville, Kentucky, which is near the Tennessee/Kentucky state line. The beginning of this raid coincided with General Lee’s Battle of Gettysburg far to the northeast. From Burkesville, the troops rode north to Brandenburg, Kentucky. He had already scouted the Ohio to find suitable places to cross and had settled on this site. His soldiers commandeered two river boats on July 7 and by the next day they moved north towards Corydon and the only Civil War battle to occur on Indiana soil.
General John Hunt Morgan entered southeast Indiana when he reached Lexington, Indiana on July 10, 1863. A marker at SR 203, town square, east edge of school, Lexingtonin Scott County, Indiana)
Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his staff spent the night of July 10, 1863, in Lexington. He left for Vernon on the morning of July 11, 1863.
General John Hunt Morgan in Scott County
During the short stay in Scott County, Morgan’s men kept themselves busy cutting telegraph line at the Vienna, Indiana train depot and raiding the countryside for food and fresh horses. Vienna is a small town just south of Scottsburg. During the one night stay in Lexington, General Morgan stayed at the Beeline Hotel Inn.
John Morgan at Jennings County Courthouse
From Scott County, Morgan went on to Vernon in Jennings County. A marker at the SW corner of Courthouse Square, Vernon, Indiana in Jennings County, Indiana)
1997 Indiana Historical Bureau
During the Civil War, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan led a raid into southern Indiana, July 8-13, 1863. On July 11, he demanded the surrender of Vernon. Colonel Hugh T. Williams, Indiana Legion, replied that Morgan “must take it by hard fighting.” No major battle occurred, and Morgan’s cavalry withdrew toward Dupont, Jefferson County.
The John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail enters Jennings County from Scott County as it follows Indiana State Road 3. It proceeds to Vernon, Indiana. From Vernon, it goes southeast on Indiana State Road 7 t the town of DuPont, in Jefferson County.
Morgan in Jennings County
Morgan approached Vernon from Paris, Indiana and Union troops had positioned themselves to defend the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad and the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad. The town of Vernon was evacuated under threat from Morgan that he would shell the town. During the night, a shot caused a great deal of excitement among the refugees. In the morning, the cause was found to be a soldier that discharged his weapon accidentally when he slipped and fell. From Vernon, Morgan slipped away towards DuPont, Indiana in Jefferson County.
John Morgan at Dupont, Indiana
From Vernon Morgan continued traveling east to Dupont, Indiana. A marker on SR 7, in Dupont in Jefferson County, Indiana notes the incident.
Confederate forces under Gen. John Hunt Morgan camped near Dupont the night of July 11. They destroyed railroad track, burned bridges, freight cars and a warehouse, and stole 2, 000 hams from Mayfield’s pork house.
The John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail enters Jefferson County from Jennings County as it follows Indiana State Road 7. It will turn west at the town of DuPont on County Road 1050 N, then south to skirt Big Oaks National Wildlife Area. Morgan, of course, went due east from this point but the trail now has to skirt what was formerly, and a portion still is, a US Military base. The Trail rejoins Indiana State Road 7 for about 2.7 miles before turning east again on County Road 400 N which it follows for about three miles at its intersection with US 421 N. The Trail turns north on US 421 for about 8.2 miles as it enters Ripley County. Points of Interest 16 and 17 are located in Jefferson County.
From Dupont Morgan marched northeast, reaching Versailles, Indiana on July 12, 1863. A marker at the East entrance of courthouse, Versailles in Ripley County, Indiana records the moment.
John Morgan at Versailles Indiana
General John Hunt Morgan, Confederate cavalry commander, occupied Versailles on Sunday afternoon, July 12. Having seized county treasury, he moved North at 4:00 P.M. as Union forces began to close in upon him.
Morgan’s Raider in Ripley County
Morgan’s Raiders entered Ripley County on July 12, 1863. They came from the west, entering from Jefferson County. Rexville, now on US 421 south of Versailles, was their first stop. The main body of Raiders traveled next to Versailles, but another contingent traveled north on the Michigan Road to Napoleon and into Decatur County. This group later rejoined the main group after visiting New Point in Decatur County, Huntersville and then Batesville. The main group of Morgan’s Raiders traveled east, burning bridges and confiscating money and jewelry along their route. They would also take fresh horses. They encamped briefly near Sunman before leaving the county and entering Dearborn County. They camped in a field that is now the cemetery for St. Paul’s Church south of Sunman.
The Indiana Historical Society has placed along the route commemorative markers. At Rexville, Versailles, on the Milan Road at the Hassmer home, just north of Versailles; at Pierceville, Old Milan at Governor Harding’s Home, and at St. Paul’s Church south of Sunman, the Ripley County markers show that “Colonel John Morgan passed here on July 12, 1863.”
Morgan in Versailles
Construction on the first courthouse in Versailles occurred in 1821 in the center of the town square. This building required replacement by the 1860’s. The county began construction on a new building during the years 1860 – 1863. The Civil War slowed down construction on the building. The courthouse was the target of John Hunt Morgan’s Civil War Raid in July 1863. Organization of a militia to defend the town was undertaken. It disbanded in the face of Morgan’s far superior and better-armed force. Morgan had about 2,000 troops and a cannon. He threatened to use the cannon on the newly completed Court House in Versailles, Indiana if any of the natives resisted his troops. Morgan’s troops confiscated the county treasury, food, possessions and livestock.
From Versailles Morgan continued traveling east, camping just south of Sunman, Indiana before traveling along the approximate location of North Dearborn Road until he reached the Ohio State Line and left Indiana.
Find out more Morgan’s Raiders in Indiana here.
John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail
1981 S. Industrial Park Road, Ste. 1
PO Box 407
Versailles, IN 47042
See the article in the Civil War Timeline
I will have much more civil war history in the next series of podcasts which will feature my book, Indiana’s Role in the Civil War.
Find out more about these Indiana day trip destinations and many more by purchasing the book Southeast Indiana Day Trips. The book includes contact information for all of these museums as well as information on include, state parks, nature preserves, golf courses , wineries, breweries and much, much more. You can find it on my web site, http://www.mossyfeetbooks.com on the Road Trip Indiana category. Just scroll down to categories, click the Road Trip Indiana Series. There are links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play and other online book sellers. You may choose to purchase the book in ebook or softbound versions. An audio book version is available on Google Play. There will be four more podcasts in this series covering some of the historical markers, court houses and underground railroad sites in the southeastern part of Indiana. At the conclusion of this series I will compile the episodes into an audio book. The next series will cover Indiana’s role in the Civil War. Listeners may also be interested in my book, The Ultimate Indiana Day Trip Travel Guide. The 747 page book includes a plethora of day trip destination in Indiana. A complete tourism guide the book includes local and state parks, museums, golf courses and much, much more. The book includes information on all of Indiana’s 92 counties. No traveler in Indiana should be without it.
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