Posted on

140 years later, John Hunt Morgan back in the saddle

140 years later, John Hunt Morgan back in the saddle
140 years later, John Hunt Morgan back in the saddle
Jeff (Patch) Minyard of Louisville peeks around a tree Friday at Corydon's Home Guard. (Photos by Charles S. Ewry)

When about a dozen armed men on horseback rode into the Battle of Corydon Park, guns a blazing, it was startling, to say the least. A couple of children cried. Others stared warily. Even the adults flinched when historic reenactors fired off blanks nearby.
The Friday morning event was a very small but effective example of Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s raid on Corydon. Multiply the Confederate soldiers ranks to 2,000 and add some artillery and it’s easy to imagine how the general’s unauthorized charge through Indiana spanned 185 miles and six days before he entered Ohio where he was eventually caught.
The reenactment was a promotion for the recently opened John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail, which follows Morgan’s path of pillaging, plundering and destruction in general.
The path features interpretive signs placed at 27 strategic locations along Morgan’s path, including five signs in Harrison County. It stretches across the southeastern corner of Indiana, from Mauckport to Harrison, Ind., on the Ohio border.
Directional signs have also been placed along the route, including two near Corydon at the entrance to the Battle of Corydon Park and one near the intersection of state roads 135 and 337.
Aside from Confederate calvarymen, the mock battle was also attended by a trio of distressed maids, a dignified looking mayor, and, of course, Corydon’s Home Guard. After dispatching several members of the Home Guard and inducing a surrender, the Confederates extorted ransom and interrogated some innocent, wide-eyed members of the audience.
Among the reenactors were several familiar faces from Corydon’s occasional Battle of Corydon reenactment weekend which took a year off last year but is scheduled to return to town July 12 and 13.
Morgan Racque of Corydon was back to reprise his role as John Hunt Morgan.
Jerry Isaacs of Leitchfield, Ky., portraying a confident Confederate calvaryman, heckled suspect union sympathizers, while searching for a ‘good biscuit-cooking woman’ to scare up some food for the hungry invaders.
The mayor was played by Ken Catlett of Louisville. A friend of Racque’s, Catlett’s been reenacting since 1979, but this was his first time as mayor. He has tried his hand at being a riverboat captain, congressman, lawyers, preachers and others.
‘This is what we like to do. Everyone knows everybody. We are like family,’ Catlett said.
In some cases that is more true than others. Catlett’s daughter, Paula White, was also in uniform. White was named Mrs. Belle of Louisville last year.
Another belle, Susan Walters, executive director of tourism in Jennings County, was mixing work with play. She’s been a reenactor for 10 years and said she has seen the good of it in tourism.
Some audience members got caught up in the act.
Kenny Gilham, a former Corydon mail carrier, had heard a legend about local farmers who hid their horses in a secret hollow above his farm so that Morgan wouldn’t take them.
He let Morgan in on the secret Friday morning.
After they finished their business in Corydon, the Confederates were off to Salem, Lexington and Versailles to continue their march through history.