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Home Guard no match for Raiders

Celebrating Statehood

June 12, 2013 | 09:59 AM

Did you know there are only two officially recognized Civil War battles fought on northern soil? Ironically, both of these battles occurred 150 years ago in July 1863.

(click for larger version)
The more universally recognized one is the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. The second, closer to home, is the only Civil War battle fought in the state of Indiana and is known as the Battle of Corydon.

The Battle of Corydon was precipitated by Confederate Calvary Gen. John Hunt Morgan's great raid, which began in Tennessee on July 2, 1863, and ended near Westpoint, Ohio, almost to the Pennsylvania state line, on July 26, 1863. Despite orders to the contrary, Morgan, known as "The Thunderbolt of the Confederacy," was determined to push the war into Union territory, mistakenly anticipating that he would gather supporters sympathetic to the Confederacy on his travels. The great raid lasted 24 days and covered one thousand miles, with Union Brigadier Gen. Edward Hobson in hot pursuit of Morgan's Raiders.

On Tuesday, July 7, 1863, Morgan reached Brandenburg, Ky., and commandeered two ships, the T.J. McCombs and the Alice Dean, to ferry his 2,000 troops across the Ohio River to the Indiana shore at Morvin's Landing. Morgan sank the Alice Dean but the T.J. McCombs escaped destruction. Members of the Indiana Legion from Mauckport and Leavenworth attempted to block Morgan's advance but quickly retreated to Corydon.

The raiders rode toward the Harrison County seat of Corydon, pillaging, pilfering and burning two mills, Lopp's and Frake's. The Harrison County Home Guard, 450 strong and commanded by Col. Lewis Jordan, Provost Marshal John Timberlake and Major J.S. Pfrimmer, had constructed a barricade of logs to serve as a battle line about one mile south of Corydon. On Thursday, July 9, armies met. The badly outnumbered defenders of the town held out for about 30 minutes then were completely routed and rapidly retreated.

A monument at the Battle of Corydon Memorial Park recognizes some of those killed in the 1863 battle. (click for larger version)
Deaths related to the Battle of Corydon include:

Union — Georgia R. (Jeremiah) Nantz, James Currant, Jacob Ferree, the Rev. Peter Glenn, William Heth, Isaac Lang, Nathan F. McKinzie, Harrison Steepleton, Cynthia Booker Denbo and Miss Abbie Slemmons.

Confederate — Charles Best, Greene Bottomer, John Dunn, Arthur Johnson, R.S. Porter, Len A. Sharp, P.H. Thorpe, W.H. Wilson, Albert Womack and other unknown Confederates.

Faced with a barrage of cannonballs, some of which reached the Cedar Glade plantation north of town, Corydon raised the white flag of surrender. Morgan's Raiders robbed mercantile establishments, mills and the Harrison County treasurer. While lunching at the Kintner House, innkeeper Sallie Kintner, a staunch unionist, handed Morgan a local newspaper, The Corydon Democrat, providing details about the recent Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Morgan quickly ordered his men to head northward with the main column passing through Corydon Junction, New Salisbury and Palmyra.

Morgan reunited his troops in Salem and the raid continued, anticipated by the cry of "Morgan's a'coming!" which rang throughout the countryside.

The Battle of Corydon Memorial Park, operated by the Harrison County Parks Dept., which commemorates the site of the Battle of Corydon, is located one-half mile south of Corydon along Old S.R. 135. The park, which is open free to the public, features a log cabin, cannon, commemorative markers and plaques and a wooded walking trail. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Karen Schwartz, president of the Historical Society of Harrison County, serves on the legacy group of the Harrison County Committee for the Indiana Bicentennial. In preparation of Indiana's bicentennial in 2016, she is providing a monthly column — focusing on a person, place or event from Harrison County's history — that gives insight to our history. She said the columns should serve as an introduction and/or summary of a topic but are not intended to include all known facts and information. To suggest a topic, contact Schwartz at 736-2373 or 738-2828, by e-mail at or by regular mail at 5850 Devil's Elbow Road NW, Corydon, IN 47112.

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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 1-812-738-2211 email