Indiana's War: The Civil War in Documents

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Indiana’s War is a primary source collection featuring the writings of Indiana’s citizens during the Civil War era. Using private letters, official records, newspaper articles, and other original sources, the volume presents the varied experiences of Indiana’s participants in the war both on the battlefield and on the home front. Starting in the 1850s, the documents show the sharp political divisions over issues such as slavery, race, and secession in Indiana, divisions that boiled over into extraordinary strife and violence in the state during the rebellion. This conflict touched all levels and members of society, including men, women, and children, whites and African Americans, native-born citizens and immigrants, farmers and city and town dwellers.

Collecting the writings of Indiana’s peoples on a wide range of issues, chapters focus on the politics of race prior to the war, the secession crisis, war fever in 1861, the experiences of soldiers at the front, home-front hardships, political conflict between partisan foes and civil and military authorities, reactions to the Emancipation Proclamation, and antiwar dissent, violence, and conspiracy. 

Indiana’s War is an excellent accompanying primary source text for undergraduate and graduate courses on the American Civil War. It documents the experiences of Indiana’s citizens, from the African American soldier to the antiwar dissenter, from the prewar politician to the postwar veteran, from the battle-scarred soldier to the impoverished soldier’s wife, all showing the harsh realities of the war.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Editors Nation and Towne, both superbly qualified, have produced a volume which should be required in any college course in nineteenth-century Indiana history. The book is also a must for readers interested in the Civil War or Indiana history. They will find excellent introductions to each chapter and a fascinating variety of original documents, each with informative annotation. Highly recommended.”
— Dawn Bakken, Associate Editor, Indiana Magazine of History

“Indiana’s War offers an excellent collection of primary source documents that will prove useful to scholars and students of the Civil War and midwestern history.… The editors provide brief, but interpretive introductions to the book as a whole and each chapter, along with a chronology and a section of discussion questions, which all combine to make this a powerful teaching tool for use in the college classroom.”

“With a set of discussion questions and a select bibliography, (Indiana’s War) will be useful for advanced high school and college classrooms, as well as adult education groups.”
Indiana Magazine of History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780821418475
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press
  • Publication date: 11/10/2009
  • Series: Civil War in the Great Interior
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 1,486,925
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard F. Nation is an associate professor of history at Eastern Michigan University.  He is the author of At Home in the Hoosier Hills: Agriculture, Politics, and Religion in Southern Indiana, 1810–1870.  

Stephen E. Towne is an associate university archivist at Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis. He is the editor of A Fierce, Wild Joy: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Edward J. Wood, 48th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xiii

Series Editors' Preface xv

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction 1

1 The Politics of Slavery 6

Escaping Slavery through Indiana 10

1852 African American Exclusion Vote 13

Indiana's Leading Abolitionist 15

Democratic Thoughts on the Compromise of 1850 17

The Nebraska Bill 18

The People's Parry 19

Dred Scott and Kansas 20

Bleeding Kansas and the Lecompton Constitution 22

The Split in the Democratic Party 23

Rights of Negroes in Indiana 24

John Brown 26

2 The Election of 1860 and Secession 27

Democrats Prepare a Racist Campaign 29

Democrats Split 30

Douglas Democrats 31

"They want to rule us because they won't trust us" 32

The Election of 1860 33

Secession as Bluster and Bluff 36

"The south is making a great to do" 36

A Politician Writes His Sons from Washington 37

Abolitionists as Dis-Unionists 39

An Attempt at Compromise 41

3 Choosing Sides, Making an Army 43

The War Begins 45

"I never saw such excitement in all my life" 46

Fort Sumter and the Call to Arms 47

Enforced Loyalty 48

The First Volunteers 49

The Early Trials of War 49

Sojourner Truth Visits Indiana in the Wake of the War's Start 52

Jesse Bright's Expulsion 53

Bright's Defense 54

Replacing Bright 55

"If the South can maintain its position all will be well" 56

Camp Life 57

Conscientious Objectors 58

A Union Democrat's Account of Draft in Hancock Country 59

Avoiding the Draft 61

4 The Front Lines 62

"Drunkenness is the great vice of soldiers" 64

Away from Home 65

"Boys, I want you to keep this" 68

"We had the satisfaction of seeing the elephant" 70

"No man need want to witness an execution" 71

FakedIllnesses to Obtain Medical Discharges 72

"The hospital is a hard place to be in" 73

Women at the Front 75

Caring for the Sick and Wounded 77

Prisoner of War 78

"Them dreadful days" 81

"Our motto is, 'death to traitors'" 82

Death 84

5 The Home Front 87

Hearts Separated 89

A Father's Grief 91

Running the Farm 93

"I do not know what he would do if it was not for his girls" 94

Support for Soldiers' Families 96

War and Madness 97

These Terrible Times 100

"Money is abundant" 101

Aiding the Freed Peoples 102

6 Race, Slavery, and the Emancipation Proclamation 104

"The new Revolution upon which we are embarked" 106

Aroused to a Solemn Duty 107

"The penalty of their crimes" 107

"The people of this county will never consent to receive such an immigration of negroes" 109

"The black wave of freed negroes is surging across the Ohio" 113

"I don't like old Abe's proclamation" 113

"1863 was the year of jubilee for two and a half millions of the human family" 116

"We can't whip the south without her negroes" 117

"The Idea of adopting the negro into the United States Service seems to be useless" 118

"Here is a wide field opened for good" 119

"Fly to my Country Call" 120

"White soldiers are more than friendly" 122

"Kill all, that's my doctrin" 123

7 The Battle to Control State Government 125

"Our people believe that secession meetings should not be tolerated" 127

"Indiana will loose sight of party in this hour and rally around good men" 128

"The democracy of Indiana are for prosecuting the war for the maintenance of the Constitution, and the enforcement of the laws" 129

"Our only wonder is that we were not beaten worse" 130

Buell Is to Blame 132

The Streets of Indianapolis to Run with Blood 133

"The Loyal members of the Legislature have all gone home" 135

"We was ordered out one night to town to blow up the state house" 136

The Republicans Bolt Again 137

Military Punishment for Speech Considered Treasonous 138

"Forewarned is forearmed" 139

"Let me exhort the people to moderation and submission to the laws" 140

"Armed forces must be employed to crush the opposition" 143

"Our difficulties can soon be settled" 144

8 The Morgan Raid 146

"Rebels have invaded Indiana in considerable force" 148

"Wake up old Hoosier" 149

The Raiders in Salem 150

Morton Fights Martial Law 151

"I never expected to see such times as these here" 152

9 Dissent, Violence, and Conspiracy 155

"Burned by an incendiary" 159

"These abolitionists are indeed a pretty set of pimps" 160

"Arbitrary arrests for differences of opinion" 161

Violence against the Press 162

"If I should happen to be shot" 163

"It haint the inion they are after it is to break down the Constitution" 166

"Something should be done to show traitors in this locality that the law must be sustained" 167

"You cannot be aware of the full extent of the danger" 167

Draft Resistance 168

"Assembled and armed, for the purpose of inaugurating civil war in this community" 169

"Let no arms come to this county" 172

Secret Organization Uncovered 173

"The fact is well established" 177

An Unveiled Threat 179

"The condition of affairs in Indiana" 181

Startling Intelligence 183

"These facts will open the eyes of the people" 184

The Conspiracy Trials 185

Democrats in Trouble 188

The Presidential Ballot 189

10 War's End 190

Fort Wayne "Surrenders" 192

A Soldier on the Death of Lincoln 193

"Rebel leaders will get their dues" 194

A Poem on Lincoln's Death 196

Joy at Lincoln's Death 197

Postwar Mental Illness in Veterans 197

Ex parte Milligan 199

Change in the Economy and Society 204

Evansvilie Race Riot 204

Democratic Opposition to African American Equality 206

Assisting the Freed Peoples 206

Changes in African American Population 209

"At least they ought to be willing" 211

Democratic Reaction to the Fifteenth Amendment 211

Divided Communities 212

Timeline 215

Discussion Questions 231

Notes 235

Selected Bibliography 241

Index 245

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