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Marching orders

Marching orders
Marching orders
Reenactors position a cannon Sunday afternoon at Hayswood Nature Reserve during the Battle of Corydon. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

The Indiana governor has issued an emergency proclamation ordering all able-bodied male citizens in the southern counties, including Harrison, to form into companies and to arm themselves with any artillery they can get their hands on.
Hold on. This was the summer of 1863, when Gov. Oliver P. Morton issued this proclamation in response to the invasion on Indiana soil by Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his raiders, leaving the citizens of Corydon little time to prepare.
On Saturday, dozens of spectators at Hayswood Nature Reserve were thrust back in time to a place where our country and towns were split leading to the Civil War. Reenactors strolled through the crowd as the battle raged.
‘Ya’ll ain’t Yankee lovers, is ya?’ one Confederate soldier asked.
The Confederates tried to get some help from the crowd asking, ‘How many yanks are out there?’
A response from the crowd was followed by chants from others: ‘Anything for the South’ and ‘All for the cause.’
The crowd was partisan to the winner of the battle, the Confederates.
Reenactors came from all around to portray one of only two recognized battles in the North and the only battle in Indiana: the Battle of Corydon.
The real attack began about 11 a.m. on July 9, 1863. Gen. John Hunt Morgan was met by the Sixth Indiana Legion under Col. Lewis Jordan just south of downtown Corydon, about a mile east from the reenactment site at Hayswood park. The guard tried to slow Morgan’s Raid until Union reinforcements could arrive to stop Morgan’s march through Southern Indiana.
Morgan’s Raid initially began near Sparta, in eastern Tennessee on June 11, 1863. It was intended to divert the attention of the Union Army of Ohio from Confederate forces in Tennessee. Morgan was ordered to confine his raid to Kentucky and not to cross the Ohio River. For some unexplained reason, Morgan defied Gen. Braxton Bragg’s command and led his cavalrymen on a 46-day, 1,000-mile raid. It ended with his capture near New Lisbon, Ohio, on July 26.
Morgan successfully charged through Corydon on July 9. Morgan’s raiders followed a path along the lines of S.R. 135 from Mauckport to Corydon. The home guard had drawn a battle line behind a hastily thrown up barricade of logs. In a short but spirited battle, lasting less than an hour, Morgan met his first and only organized resistance in the Hoosier state.
By outflanking both wings at the same time, Morgan’s men completely routed the militia. Four of the guards were killed, several were wounded, 355 were captured and the remainder escaped. The victory was not without cost to the Raiders. Eleven Raiders were killed and 40 were wounded.
Those in attendance for Saturday’s reenactment ranged from history enthusiasts to children who just enjoyed the show.
Jacob McClanahan, 9, of Corydon said his favorite part of the battle was ‘the cannons going off.’ He later changed his mind saying, ‘I like everything about the battle’ and pleaded with his father to bring him back for the next show the following afternoon.
The reenactment Sunday afternoon, which was attended by Jacob McClanahan and his father, Marty, was a little shorter than the previous day’s battle because of the warm temperatures and high humidity.
Reenactors who participated in the Battle of Corydon not only portrayed the soldiers in battle, but also camped all weekend at Hayswood in conditions similar to what the soldiers would have experienced in 1863.
‘I’ve been out here when it was 120 degrees and when it was 18 below zero, so this won’t bother me,’ said John Hemmings, a member of the Hamilton Guard.
Morgan’s raiders also entertained on the square Saturday at noon, reenacting the robbing and plundering of downtown Corydon. And that evening, there was a Historical Ball on the town square.
Click for photo gallery of raid on Corydon
Click for photo gallery of Historical Ball
Click for photo gallery of Battle of Corydon reenactment

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