Battle returns for 150th anniversary
History is always on display in Corydon, Indiana’s first capital, and most years a celebration is held to commemorate the battle, but this time will be different.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Corydon, which is one of only two Civil War battles recognized by historians on northern soil. The other was the war’s most famous battle at Gettysburg.
More than 100 soldiers and citizens will re-enact the battle and other aspects of Civil War-era Corydon on July 12 through 14.
The two battle re-enactments, featuring canons, rifles and the Gatling gun, will be at Hayswood Nature Reserve at 4 p.m. July 13 and 2 p.m. July 14. The only cost will be for parking ($5 per vehicle).
Visitors will be able to experience authentic troop encampments, battlefield re-enactments, weapon demonstrations, a military ball (8 p.m. July 13) and a ladies’ tea (1:30 p.m. July 13), all at Hayswood Nature Reserve.
Various demonstrations will begin at 2:30 p.m. July 13 and 11 a.m. July 14.
An Abraham Lincoln and Confederate soldier re-enactors will be on hand for the battle scenarios.
A living history encampment will be set up all weekend at the Battle of Corydon Memorial Park, the site of the original defense line thrown up by the Harrison County Home Guard. Through cooking demonstrations and everyday chores, it will show how life went on despite the war. It will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 13 and 14.
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.
A special re-enactment of Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s raid will take place July 13 at noon with his soldiers pillaging local shops, homes and buildings downtown.
On July 12, a Preservation Ride will take place beginning at 8 a.m. at the Ohio River in southern Harrison County with 50 raiders traveling the original route of Morgan’s troops while raising funds for historic preservation efforts. Camping overnight south of Corydon, the riders will lead the forces invading Corydon for the noon raid the following day.
A new event, a period baseball game, will take place July 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Corydon. Admission will be $2 per vehicle or $1 per person for walk-ins.
Morgan’s raid 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 soldiers into Union territory, mistakenly anticipating that he would gather supporters sympathetic to the Confederacy. The raid lasted 24 days and covered 1,000 miles, with Union Brigadier Gen. Edward Hobson in pursuit.
Morgan reached Brandenburg on July 7, 1863, 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 the Harrison County seat of Corydon.
On their way to Corydon, the raiders pillaged, pilfered and burned 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 Maj. J.S. Pfrimmer ‘ had constructed a barricade of logs to serve as a battle line about one mile south of Corydon. On July 9, 1863, the armies met with the town’s badly outnumbered defenders who held out for about 30 minutes before retreating.
Dan Bays, Harrison County’s historian, said the Home Guard was made up of mainly old men and young boys because most of the able-bodied men were fighting on the front lines of the Civil War.
Faced with a barrage of cannonballs, Corydon raised the white flag of surrender. Morgan’s Raiders robbed mercantile establishments, mills and the Harrison County treasury. While lunching at the Kintner House, innkeeper Sallie Kintner, a staunch unionist, handed Morgan a local newspaper, The Corydon Democrat, that provided 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. In Salem, Morgan reunited his troops and the raid continued.
If the re-enactments aren’t enough to satisfy one’s thirst for history, a museum exhibit is set up in The Emporium along Capitol Avenue in downtown Corydon. The core of the display is the ‘My brother, my enemy’ Civil War exhibit from the Frazier Art Museum in Louisville, but the Battle of Corydon Memorial Park board, led by Bays, added local Battle of Corydon items to it. Other members of the board are Mike Coggeshall, Tom Cunningham, Keith Karcher, David McBeth, Mike Peake, Morgan Raque, Ed Runden and Laura Van Fossen.
The free exhibit, which is now open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., includes a number of items from the battle and interactive screens detailing Civil War history.
‘We’ve had a lot of positive comments,’ Bays said of the display.
The display will be featured until at least July 15, he said, and will have an all-day open house celebration Friday (after 10 a.m. leading up to the Friday night band concert).
Bays said the entire line-up of activities is more than they’ve ever done in the past.
‘Faces of Lincoln’ exhibition
The Indiana Historical Society’s traveling exhibition The Faces of Lincoln, ‘Developing the Image’ as seen in 2004 and 2005 aboard the Indiana History Train, will be presented July 12 through 14 by the Historical Society of Harrison County in the carriage house at the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site (Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.).
Drawn from the Lincoln collections of the Indiana Historical Society, acquired in 2003 with the help of the Lilly Endowment Inc., The Faces of Lincoln explores the image and public perception of Abraham Lincoln.
‘Developing the Image’ takes visitors on a journey through the development of photography and begins with a discussion of the different types of photography during the period Lincoln lived. A timeline of photographic advancements depicts different types of photos and images of Lincoln, such as daguerreotypes, lithographs, stereographs, cartes de visite, cabinet cards, tintypes, ambrotypes and portraits. These panels also explain how the new art of photography helped Lincoln become a well-known political figure, juxtaposing, for instance, different photographs taken of Lincoln in 1859, 1861, 1863 and 1865 at important stages of his candidacy and presidency.
Interpretive text panels discuss how photography had a significant impact on the public during this time and made the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln ‘real’ to people of the 19th century. Newspapers and magazines traced original photographs of soldiers and battle and made etchings or lithographs from them for publication and public distribution. Photography also brought the faces of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, their trial and their deaths to the American public. Alexander Gardener photographed the accused assassins; their images were produced as cartes de visite and sold to the American public. Examples of these images are included in this the section of the exhibition.
Since 1830, the Indiana Historical Society has been Indiana’s Storyteller, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving, interpreting and disseminating the state’s history. A private, nonprofit membership organization, IHS maintains the nation’s premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups, publishes books and periodicals, sponsors teacher workshops and provides youth, adult and family programming.