Finding Morgan’s Raid at the Steven’s Memorial Museum in Salem, Indiana

by Samantha McClellan, Shannon Silva, Andrew Vibbert & Danielle Emerling

The state of Indiana saw very little action during the Civil War, but at the John Hay Center Steven’s Memorial Museum in Salem, Indiana, numerous documents, scrapbooks and published histories provide a glimpse into the six days in July 1863 when communities in the southern part of the state faced looting and extortion during what came to be known as Morgan’s Raid.

On July 8, 1863, Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan and two thousand cavalrymen disobeyed orders and headed for Ohio, hoping to bring the war farther north (not knowing that the war had just turned in favor of the Union at Gettysburg). They crossed the Ohio River from Brandenburg, Kentucky, battled through Corydon, Indiana, and made their way to Salem.

Morgan reached Salem on July 10, and because most of the town’s able-bodied men were fighting on battlefields away from home, Salem quickly surrendered. Morgan then set up his headquarters at the Persise Hotel. Pictured below are a photograph of the hotel building from a 1916 scrapbook and the building as it is today.

The raid was short, lasting less than 24 hours, and relatively nonviolent. One man was killed and two wounded. The rebels were moderately concerned with discovering the loyalties of the towns people.

In his account of the raid, Harry S. Graves wrote: “Being Southern Indiana, there were a lot of copperheads, people who supported the south, and some local merchants appeared to give the names of people with reletives [sic] in the Union Army in an attempt to be exempt from being looted. Fortunately, the rebs were more interested in looting than retalliation [sic].”

A popular story of rebel interaction with the locals appeared in both Graves’s account and newspaper articles. It involved an 83-year-old man named Jacob Hattabough. Hattabough was asked by a rebel whether he was an abolitionist or a Democrat. Hattabough answered that he was a democrat, so the rebel ordered him to “hurrah for Jeff Davis.” Hattabough refused, and the rebel threatened to shoot him. Again he refused and replied: “You don’t know who you’re talking to. Shoot, d—n you. Kill me if you want to, for you can’t cheat me out of many days, anyway, you dirty scoundrel.”

The rebel didn’t shoot Hattabough, and after the altercation, Hattabough made his way to the hotel to confront Morgan, telling him if he ever got back south alive, he might consider himself a very lucky individual.

However, Morgan and his rebels appear to have been more concerned with extorting money from local businesses and stealing horses, approximately 500, from farmers.

A page from one downtown store’s day book, pictured right,  helps tell the story. In June 1863, the Berkey Bros. Store notes that Morgan took $4,000 from the store, and not long after, Union Brigadier General Edward Hobson, in pursuit of Morgan,  took $5,000.

Left, a closeup of the Berkey Bros. day book note. It reads: “Friday Morgans passed Salem and broke our store force 4000, Saturday Gen Hobson “ 5000.”

Morgan also extorted money from two mills, and then he pardoned them from further molestation by Confederate troops. The John Hay Center has a pardon for The Woolen Factory at Salem, signed by Morgan, on display.

The pardon, pictured right, reads:

“Safety Guard The Woolen Factory at Salem, Ind the property of [illegible] Allen Manley is hereby protected from violence by the Confederate troops. Any command passing through here will obey and respect this. By order of John H. Morgan

July 10/1863 Brig Gen’l C.S.A. ”

Finally, knowing that travelers stored their valuables at the train depot, Morgan and his rebels made their way to the Salem station building to steal the strong box. Before Morgan arrived, someone had buried the valuables elsewhere and replaced them with tools. When the rebels discovered the tools in the strong box, they retaliated by burning the depot.

The Civil War story of Morgan’s raid in Salem is easy to find in the materials at the John Hay Center Steven’s Memorial Museum, but it’s certainly not the only one. A plethora of stories and resources awaits any curious visitor at this friendly, well-maintained repository. Visit their website www.johnhaycenter.org for more information.

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This post was written using sources available at the John Hay Center. They include:
Centennial History of Washington County Indiana by Warder W. Stevens, pp. 316-318.
“Morgan’s Raid on Salem: The Myth’s Dispelled” by Harry S. Graves – Hoosier Brigade.
Berkey Bros. Store Day book, Salem, Indiana, June 1863.
John Morgan’s pardon of the Woolen Factory at Salem, Indiana, June 10, 1863.
John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail pamphlet, also available online.

This is the first part in a series of posts celebrating American Archives Month. In recognition of both the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences Themester “Making War, Making Peace,” and the Civil War Sesquicentennial, the IU Society of American Archivists Student Chapter is visiting repositories in southern Indiana to highlight materials related to the Civil War.

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About SAA-SC IUB

The Society of American Archivists Indiana University Student Chapter seeks to: *provide a forum to address issues in the archival profession in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. *facilitate a meeting place for students with interests in Archives, Special Collections, Manuscripts, or Personal Papers. *raise awareness about archives and their importance in the university and surrounding community.
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