Indiana in the Civil War

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Indiana and the Civil War (1861-1865)
Indiana (1861-1865), part 2

The question of enlisting for three years was at once submitted
to the state regiments. The 13th, 14th, 15th and 17th promptly
accepted the proposition, except a few hundred who declined
and were at once discharged. These regiments were mustered
into the United States' service and marched for western Vir-
ginia, where they were brigaded together and placed under
command of Gen. Reynolds, who was commissioned brigadier-
general. The 12th and i6th regiments remained in the state
service until July 18, when the governor procured an order
from the president accepting them into the service of the United
States for the unexpired portion of their twelve months' enlist-
ment, with the agreement that the general government should
assume all expenses and charges paid by the state on their
account. The 12th was stationed at Evansville, the 16th
at Richmond, at which points they were formally transferred
to the United States on July 23, and immediately left for the
Potomac, joining the forces under Gen. Banks, at Pleasant
Valley, Md.
Previous to the return of the three months troops from the
Virginia campaign, Gov. Morton despatched messengers to
all the regimental commanders with letters urging them to
reenlist, after remaining a reasonable time at their homes,
for three years. The regiments returned the latter part of
July, and after the men were paid and mustered out, arrange-
ments were made to reorganize them with the least possible
delay. This was accomplished in a very short time under the
auspices and direction of their former colonels. Other calls
had in the meantime been made and were in progress of being
As renewed calls for troops were made, Indiana responded
with a promptness and patriotism unsurpassed by any state
in the Union. She sent into the field considerably more than
her quota, and they were admirably equipped and provided,
and in the severe battles in which they were engaged exhibited
the most undaunted and persistent bravery. In the war with
Mexico one of the Indiana regiments became panic-stricken
at Buena Vista and its flight had brought a reproach upon
the reputation of the state for courage. It was the especial
desire of the soldiers of the Indiana regiments to efface this
stain, and more than one regiment, on being sworn into the
service, took a solemn oath to "remember Buena Vista," an
oath they sacredly kept, for whenever they were engaged in
battle they were eager to advance, steady in the fight, and
utterly averse to retreating. The forces raised in the state
and sent into the field before Jan. 1, 1862, were, in round num-
bers, about 60,000. Of these, 53,500 were infantry, 4,500
cavalry, and about 2,000 artillery. They were, perhaps, more
widely scattered through the different corps d'armee than those
of any other state. They were with Gen. McClellan and his
successors in western Virginia; fought at Bull Run; garrisoned
the forts at Hatteras Inlet and were plundered of their cloth-
ing and supplies by the Confederates; participated in the victo-
ries of Gen. Lyon and in the masterly retreat of Sigel; defended
Lexington under Mulligan; formed a part of Fremont's army
which went in pursuit of Gen. Price; were in every consider-
able action in Missouri, most of those on the Potomac, and
during the early part of 1862, were in the actions of Mill Springs,
Roanoke island. Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Shiloh, and at
the capture of Island No. 10.
The Indiana legislature, at its special session in 1861, passed
a law for the organization of the militia, which greatly facilitated
the subsequent supplying of troops on the demand of the govern-
ment. Some features of this law are worthy of notice. The
militia were divided into two classes, sedentary and active.
The sedentary militia comprised all white male persons liable
to bear arms under the state constitution, except those enrolled
in the active militia. The active militia, styled also the Indiana
Legion, consisted of all such able-bodied white male citizens
of the state between the ages of 18 and 45, as should enroll
themselves and take the oath of allegiance to the United States
and the state of Indiana. These persons were required to
provide themselves with a uniform, but the state furnished
them with arms, equipments, ammunition, etc., paid the expenses
of company and regimental drills, and when called into active
service, either in behalf of the state or the general govern-
ment, they were to receive the same pay as corresponding
grades in the United States army. They were required to
parade four times a year, and to have in addition not less than
twelve company drills in the course of the year. The uniforms
and equipments being similar to those of the United States
troops, the members of the companies, on being accepted into
the United States service, received from the government com-
pensation for the cost of their uniforms. Under this act large
numbers enrolled themselves in the active militia, and from
the regiments thus enrolled it was comparatively easy to supply,
as they were needed, the troops required by the general govern-
The military spirit manifested by the people of Indiana,
and the alacrity with which they took up arms at the beginning
of the war, were abated but little during 1862. Upon the
first call of the president for 300,000 men, the governor imme-
diately issued an address to the citizens, in which he said:
"Again I call upon the loyal and patriotic men of Indiana to
come forward and supply the quota due from our state. Up to
this hour Indiana occupies a most exalted position connected
with the war. Her troops have been in almost every battle
and have behaved with uniform and distinguished gallantry.
Never before has the state held so proud a place in the opinion
of the world, and it should be the prayer and effort of every
loyal citizen that she may not now falter and that nothing
may hereafter occur to detract from her well-earned honors.
But while we are justly proud of the high rank to which Indiana
has attained, we should never forget that our allegiance and
highest duty are due to the nation, of which Indiana is but
a part. That in struggling for our national government, we
are contending for our national existence, honor, and all that
is dear to freemen, and that in this struggle we must succeed
at whatever cost. That it is the duty of every state to furnish
promptly her full proportion of the military force called for
by the president, and that in doing so she has no right to dictate
the terms of his military policy, or prescribe conditions prec-
edent upon which such force shall be furnished. To do so
would be to recognize the odious doctrine of State Rights,
as it has been taught by rebel politicians for many years, and
which is but another name for secession and the cause of all
our woe."
Liberal bounties were offered and volunteers accumulated
rapidly. The second call for 300,000 men on Sept. 24, for
nine months, offered some special attractions which induced
many to enlist who otherwise would not have entered the serv-
ice under the first. The term of service in the first instance
was for three years or the war; in the second it was only for
nine months. The bounties in many places were alike for
each. Consequently it became necessary to resort to the
militia draft, which created considerable dissatisfaction. The
call for troops had come at an inopportune time. The Federal
armies had in some degree lost their prestige. They had not
only been defeated but outgeneraled, which humiliated and dis-
couraged the troops in the field, and materially detracted
from that enthusiasm which was so needful to encourage recruit-
ing at home. Then, the season of the year was unfavorable,
the farmers being employed in harvesting and everybody
busily engaged. Still the governor went promptly and ener-
getically to work. Camps were formed, commandants appointed,
recruiting lieutenants commissioned, and the whole machinery
put in motion. The results at first were not encouraging,
though under the first call thirty-one and one-half regiments
of infantry, two of cavalry and two batteries were raised. The
whole number of troops mustered into service from the state
up to the close of the year was 102,700, of whom 3,003 were
drafted men. And the expenditure of the state for war pur-
poses was $1,979,248.
The first call in 1863 was in June, for six months' regiments
of militia. Four regiments were raised in Indiana and sent
to East Tennessee. Then came the call of Oct. 17, 1863, for
300,000 men, followed in Feb. and March, 1864, by calls aggregat-
ing 400,000 more. The quotas assigned to Indiana under
these calls were all filled without resorting to a draft. The
"Hundred Days' Movement" followed, and then came the
call of July 18, 1864, for 500,000 men, followed in December
by another call, the last of the war, for 300,000. These latter
calls were filled partially by draft, but mainly by volunteers.
Before the last call was filled, however, the Confederate armies
were suddenly and completely overthrown and recruiting
was discontinued. It will be seen that Indiana filled all calls
promptly, no deficiencies being left to be filled on subsequent
calls, the excess after the calls had been filled varying from
2,000 to 30,000. There was no lagging, no hesitancy. Though
the quotas were often deemed excessive and unjust, they were
always filled and the demands of the general government were
not cancelled by naval credits, men enlisted in the seceding
states, or by other substitutions. The contribution of men
from the state of Indiana to the military service of the United
States from the beginning of the war to Jan. 1, 1865, after
which date no further calls were made, was as follows, accord-
ing to the official report of the adjutant-general: Commissioned
officers at original organization, 6,293; non-commissioned
officers and musicians at original organization, 1,112; enlisted
men, privates, at original organization, 137,401; recruits,
privates, 35,836; unassigned recruits, regular army, etc., 16,007;
total, 196,649; re-enlisted veterans, 11,718; grand total,
208,367. Of these, 24,418 were killed or died of disease, 10,846
deserted, and 13,779 were unaccounted for. During the war
the following numbers of organizations were raised in the state
and mustered into the service of the United States for various
periods: Cavalry — for three years' service and over, 3 regi-
ments; for three years' service, 10 regiments; for one year's
service, 1 company; total, 13 regiments and 1 company. Heavy
artillery — for three years' service and over, 1 regiment. Light
artillery — for three years' service and over, 11 batteries; for
three years' service, 14 batteries; for one year's service, 1 battery;
total, 26 batteries. Infantry — for three years' service and
over, 40 regiments; for three years' service, 42 regiments;
for three years' service, 1 regiment colored troops; for one
year's service, 18 regiments and 5 companies; for six months'
service, 4 regiments; for one hundred days' service, 8 regi-
ments; for three months' service, 8 regiments; for sixty days'
service, 6 companies; for thirty days' service, 2 regiments
and 5 companies; total, 123 regiments and 16 companies. Grand
total — 137 regiments, 17 companies and 26 batteries.
The duty of appointing field, staff and line officers for the
volunteer force under the three months' call and the calls which
resulted in the formation of a number of regiments for one
and three years, prior to July 22, 1861, devolved upon the
governor, under orders of the president and the laws of the
United States regulating the militia. On the above date an
act was passed by Congress, "to authorize the employment
of volunteers to aid in enforcing the laws and protecting public
property," which expressly conferred upon the governors of
states power to commission all regimental and company officers
required for the volunteers raised in their respective states,
which power was continued until the close of the war. When
the vast interests at stake in the organization of the volunteer
army are considered, involving the life and honor of the nation,
the welfare and good fame of the state furnishing the troops,
and the individual well-being of the volunteers themselves,
the importance and responsibility connected with the exercise
of the appointing power will be seen to have been very great.
Touching this matter. Gov. Morton, in his annual message
of 1865, said: "The duty of appointing officers to command
our regiments is full of responsibility and embarrassment.
I have commissioned many whom I did not know, and for
whose fitness I was compelled to rely entirely upon the opinion
of others. But it affords me gratification to state that the
Indiana officers, as a body, have been equal to those of any
other state; that they have, upon every battle field, sustained
the great cause and shed lustre upon the flag under which they
fought. Many have been appointed to high commands, in
which they have acquitted themselves with the greatest honor
and ability, and very many have nobly laid down their lives
in battle for their country."
In the organization of the forces, the governor from the
commencement recognized the justice of giving due consid-
eration to the preference of the men when expressed either
by election or petition, yet he never yielded his right or duty
to make different selections if, in his own judgment, the public
interests should be benefited thereby. The following statistics
in this connection will be interesting: The whole number
of commissions issued during the war by Gov. Morton was
18,884. Of these, 6,243 were original appointments made
upon the organization of regiments and batteries for the volunteer
service, 9,187 were promotions to fill vacancies in the same
service, 3,159 were appointments in the Indiana Legion, and
295 were appointments of officers of the draft of 1862.
When the determination was first announced by the govern-
ment to organize colored troops, the state of public feeling in
the West was not altogether favorable to the employment
of that class of persons as soldiers. A number of officers in
Indiana regiments had already resigned on account of their
hostility to the president's proclamation of freedom to the
enslaved, and the prejudices of years against the colored man
were revived and inflamed. The Indiana troops, however,
stood fast and evinced in the strongest form their desire to
put down the insurrection with the assistance of any means
consistent with civilized warfare; public opinion rapidly strength-
ened on the negro question, and it was not long until all material
opposition to the employment of colored troops was narrowed
down to those who doggedly and determinedly maintained
their hostility to the various war measures. Referring to
the Emancipation Proclamation, Gov. Morton, in his annual
message in Jan., 1863, used the following language:
"The president has issued his proclamation, offering free-
dom to slaves held in certain of the rebellious states. It remains
to be seen what effect this proclamation will have in suppress-
ing the rebellion, but whether it be effectual or not, for the
purpose for which it was intended, the authority upon which
it was issued is beyond question.

"If the rebels do not desire the government of the United
States to interfere with their slaves, let them cease to employ
them in the prosecution of the war. They should not use
them to build fortifications, manage their baggage trains,
perform all the labor of the camp and the march, and above
all, to raise provisions upon which to subsist their armies. If
they employ the institution of slavery as an instrument of
war, like other instruments of war, it is subject to destruction.
Deprive them of slave labor, and three-fourths of the men
composing their armies would be compelled to return home
to raise food upon which to subsist themselves and families.
If they are permitted to retain slave labor, they are enabled
to maintain their armies in great force and to destroy that
force we are compelled to shed much of our best blood. Let
us not be more tender of their property than we are of our
These sentiments were generally re-echoed by the people
of the state who favored a vigorous prosecution of the war,
but no effort was made to raise colored troops to be credited
upon the quotas until Nov. 30, 1863, when, in reply to an applica-
tion, the war department authorized the governor to raise
a battalion or regiment under the regulations governing the
colored branch of the service. He had requested this authority,
not so much because the colored citizens were anxious to enter
the service, as for the reason that the state had been and was
overrun with recruiting agents representing other states, and
he had found it necessary, to prevent the men from being
enticed away and credited elsewhere, to issue an order, warn-
ing all persons so engaged to desist from procuring substitutes
or further enlistments, under penalty of being arrested and
summarily punished. Orders for recruiting the colored regi-
ment or battalion were promulgated on Dec. 3, and a camp
of rendezvous established at Indianapolis, with William P.
Fishback as commandant. Six companies were raised aggrega-
ting 518 enlisted men. The battalion was afterward recruited
up to a full regiment in Maryland, and was known as the 28th
U. S. colored. Under the calls of July and Dec, 1864, a number
of colored substitutes were furnished by drafted men in the
state, and forwarded to colored regiments in the field. The
total number of colored men enlisted in the state is reported
by the provost-marshal general at 1,537, though probably
not over 800 were credited upon Indiana's quotas — the remainder
having been recruited by other states as before explained.
The spring of 1864 opened with the prospect of much desperate
and bloody work before the armies of the East and South.
It was urgently stated by Gens. Grant and Sherman that every
able-bodied soldier was imperatively needed. The grand
Atlanta and Richmond campaigns were about to be commenced,
and such general measures taken as were believed would result
in the overthrow of the rebellion. With well-grounded con-
fidence Indiana was relied upon and expected to put into play
all her energies to make the army crushingly powerful. The
calls of February and March, requiring over 37,000 men, had
been filled in an almost incredible short time, and the troops
were hurried forward as rapidly as the means of the govern-
ment would admit. The 12,000 reenlisted veterans, who had
been granted a furlough of 30 days to their homes, were promptly
returned to their places at the front and vigorous and success-
ful efforts were made to fill the ranks of all the old organiza-
tions. Gen. Sherman, at this period, took care to impress
upon Gov. Morton the importance of having every man that
could be raised, forwarded to his command with the least
possible delay. On April 6 he telegraphed: "The season is
advancing and no excuse can be entertained, such as waiting
for more recruits. Three hundred men in time are better than
a thousand too late. Now is the time every soldier should be
in his proper place — the front."
Again on the 23d, he telegraphed: "The force of 10,000
I sent up Red river was intended to form a part of my force
for the spring campaign, but Banks can not spare them and
I will be short that number. We can not mount half the cavalry
already in the service. If the new cavalry regiments will not
serve as infantry, I see no prospect of using them except as
dismounted cavalry, which is the same thing. I tell you that
it is impossible to arm and equip them this season, and even
then we could not find horses where we are going. Why not let
me use them to guard my roads and relieve other guard troops
to that extent? They would be none the worse cavalry for
a few months' service with muskets. I can put them in reserve
where drill and instruction could go on quite as well as where
they now are, and I can arm them as infantry. When horses
and equipments come they can be mounted and equipped,
and relieved as soon as furloughed regiments arrive, or as soon
as A. J. Smith's command comes out of Red river."
The governor concurred fully with these views and several
of the new cavalry regiments were at once sent forward as
infantry. This unexpected necessity was a great disappoint-
ment of course, but the men bore it cheerfully when assurance
was given them that their horses and carbines would speedily
follow. Gen. Sherman was much pleased with the uncom-
plaining disposition of the troops and on May 3 sent this telegram
to the governor: "I am well satisfied at the despatch given
to the new cavalry regiments and will do all in my power to
to make them an honor to your state. I wish you would use
your personal influence to content them with the fact, that
all cavalry regiments shall undergo preliminary instruction
in infantry practice, before being entrusted with horses. The
immense waste of fine cavalry horses in the past two years
is proof of this."
Yet, notwithstanding the gigantic efforts that were made,
it had been for some time clearly apparent to Gov. Morton
that enough men to make a splendid army would be compelled
to remain guarding railroads, depots of public stores and forti-
fications in the rear of the advancing armies — and it was further
evident that if these men, who were trained soldiers, could
be relieved of guard duty and placed in the advance the chances
of success would be greatly increased. How this great desid-
eratum could be brought about was then an important and
perhaps a vital question. The quotas having been filled, recruit-
ing for the three years' service lapsed into insignificance and
it appeared almost impossible to increase the army to the standard
required for the mighty operations contemplated in the plans
for the campaign.
In this crisis Governors Morton and Brough met at Indian-
apolis and devised a plan, which afterward ripened into the
"one hundred days' movement," whereby it was hoped the
troops then engaged as rear-guards could be relieved and sent
forward for the more important work of fighting the enemy.
Accordingly, on April 11, a telegram was sent to the governors
of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, inviting them to
meet the governors of Ohio and Indiana at Indianapolis in
consultation on important public business, on the 22d. The
meeting was held, Governors Yates of Illinois, Stone of Iowa,
Brough of Ohio, Lewis of Wisconsin and Morton of Indiana
being present. After full discussion, the general features of the
plan were agreed upon and the governors immediately pro-
ceeded to Washington to urge its adoption by the president.
As soon as the acceptance of the proposition had been decided,
the fact was communicated to headquarters at Indianapolis
and preparations were made for raising Indiana's quota as
soon as possible. Her quota as agreed upon was 20,000 men,
and that it was not raised entire requires a word of explanation,
which is thus given by Adjt.-Gen. W. H. H. Terrell: "The
attempt was made at the busiest time of the spring season,
just after the heavy calls of February and March had been
filled, which the people, who had been so largely drawn on
before, confidently believed would be the last. No fears of
a draft were entertained, and most of the arms-bearing labor-
ing men of the state had entered into engagements with farmers
for the season. The militia, what there was of it, was organized
on the volunteer system for the protection of the border, with
the express understanding that it was not to be called into
service except for home defense. The militia law gave the
governor no power to compel service, or to send the troops
beyond the limits of the state; this force, therefore, as a body,
was not available, though many volunteers were obtained
from it for the call. In Ohio the case was different, and her
quota was entirely and immediately filled by simply trans-
ferring the required number from the national guard to the
United States' service. Indiana's quota could only be filled
by volunteers, and with the most energetic efforts the authorities
were able to make, only eight regiments, aggregating 7,415
men, could be raised. In Illinois the case was about the same,
and for similar reasons her quota was not filled by nearly one-
half. Iowa furnished over 2,000 and Michigan nearly 4,000."
The Indiana hundred-days' men served their term in Tennessee
and Alabama, and by relieving older and more experienced
troops from the duty of guarding Gen. Sherman's communica-
tions, supply depots, etc., greatly strengthened his army and
assured its success in the arduous and stubbornly contested
struggle against Atlanta. The regiments were well officered,
were composed of the best material, and by faithful service
reflected credit upon themselves and the state. So highly
did the government value their services, the President issued
to each man a certificate of thanks.
A matter that caused considerable dissatisfaction during
the progress of the war was the unpopular "bounty" system.
Under the law any person after being drafted might still be
relieved from service by furnishing a substitute or the pay-
ment of $300 commutation. This provision was manifestly
unjust, and although it furnished a large "draft and substitute
fund," as it was called, with which the provost-marshal's bureau
was enabled to maintain an extensive establishment and pay
large bounties and premiums, the effect of the commutation
clause of the law was bad and it may well be doubted whether
its benefits were not overshadowed by its evils. The crown-
ing argument at the time, among the people was, "a poor man
who has not $300 must go to the wars; a rich man, who can pay
$300, or who can hire a substitute, need not go." Much of
the opposition and not a little of the bitterness manifested
against the war policy of the government may doubtless be
attributed to the unequal bearing upon the people of this com-
mutation clause. The money thus obtained was intended
to apply in the procuration of substitutes by the government,
and large bounties were at once offered for volunteers. It
was soon demonstrated that the practical effect of this pro-
vision was to make an unfair distribution of the burdens of
the war. But few substitutes were thus obtained, for, while
each call for troops brought a large sum into the treasury, but
few men were placed in the army. People who thought the
draft was intended to procure men, while other means were
provided for raising money, were greatly dissatisfied. Besides,
many wealthy communities purchased entire exemption by
paying the money value of their quotas in advance of the draft
and made no effort to procure men. Gov. Morton, after wit-
nessing the baneful effects of the "three-hundred-dollar" system,
and the demoralization wrought by it in the minds of the people
everywhere, protested to the president and secretary of war
against it in the most earnest and emphatic manner. On
March 6, 1863, he wrote as follows: "Public feeling has greatly
improved in the West within the last six weeks, 'but I fear
the improvement is likely to receive a disastrous check from
the construction given to the 13th section of the conscription
act, which permits a drafted man to relieve himself from the
draft by the payment of $300. By this construction every
man who can beg or borrow $300 can exempt himself from the
draft, and it will fall only upon those who are too poor to raise
that sum. I can assure you that this feature in the bill is
creating much excitement and ill-feeling towards the govern-
ment among the poorer classes generally, without regard to
party, and may, if it is not subdued, lead to a popular storm,
under cover of which the execution of the conscription act may
be greatly hindered, or even defeated, in some portions of
the country.
"Under this construction, I am satisfied that the draft will
not put into the ranks any person who is not working with
the Union party; already movements are on foot in the secret
societies of Indiana and among the leaders of the disloyalists,
to raise money to purchase the exemption of every anti-war
man who may be drafted, who can not raise the money him-
self; and already the boast is made that the government shall
not have one more of their men for the prosecution of this war.
"The matter seems to me of so much importance that I
have procured Col. Rose, the marshal of the state, who is the
bearer of this letter, to visit you, and who can more fully inform
you of the views and apprehensions entertained here. From
a careful reading of the section, I am of the opinion that a
construction can be given to it, without violence, by which
it is left discretionary with the secretary of war to determine
whether he will accept of any sum in discharge of the drafted
man, and that he may legitimately determine that he will not.
"In my judgment, it is of the first importance that this con-
struction, if possible, be immediately given to the act, and
published to the world, before a current of feeling shall have
set in against the government. In Indiana, substitutes can
not be procured for $300 in any number, if at all, and the rule
should be that every drafted man should be required to serve
unless he shall actually produce his substitute. I pray you
to give this subject your immediate consideration."
The commutation system was retained for the time being,
but so greatly and justly was it complained of that it was repealed
except as to the conscientious exempts, on July 4, 1864, up to
which time no draft under the conscription act had taken
place in Indiana. Of the 208,367 men furnished in Indiana,
however, only 17,903 were drafted, and of these over 3,000
were drafted in 1862, when the state actually had a surplus
to her credit. The drafted men of 1864 were assigned to veteran
regiments, from 100 to 500 going to each, and they performed
good service, many of them being with Gen. Sherman his great
campaign through Georgia and the Carolinas, and others mate-
rially assisted Gen. Thomas in the operations which resulted
in the destruction of the Confederate army under Hood in
Middle Tennessee. The same remark also applies to the men
raised under the last call, with the exception of some 600 drafted
men, who were discharged at Indianapolis after the surrender
of Lee — their services not being needed. Besides the great
service thus rendered, the depleted ranks of the heroic regi-
ments which had been thinned by the campaigns of more than
three years, were filled, and many officers who were denied
muster in the grades to which they had been promoted — because
of the havoc made in their commands by bullets and disease,
whereby they were reduced below the minimum strength —
now received their hard-earned and well-deserved advance-

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Source: The Union Army, vol. 3


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