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Indiana’s War: The Civil War in Documents

edited by Richard Nation and Stephen Towne, 2010, Ohio University Press, $18.65

With the North’s fifth largest population, Indiana was a crucial contributor to Union success in the Civil War. In addition to providing millions of dollars in equipment and supplies, the agriculturally rich Hoosier State also sent approximately 210,000 soldiers to fight the Confederacy. Roughly 35 percent of the state’s soldiers—some 24,000—were killed, and thousands more were wounded during the conflict.

Indiana’s War: The Civil War in Documents marshals a number of private letters, official records, newspaper articles and other primary sources to present an array of Civil War–era voices: African-American soldiers, pacifist Quakers, impoverished wives of soldiers and battle-scarred veterans. One key revelation is that the state was certainly not in harmony with what would ultimately become a major aspect of the conflict—the effort to end slavery—as indicated in the soldiers’ letters home. Upon learning of the Emancipation Proclamation, one chap wrote:

“I don’t like Old Abe’s proclamation but I can’t help myself at this time. If I had thought that it was the idea to set the negroes all free they would not have got me to act the part of a soldier in this war. But as it is I am willing to fight for the Union if it will cause the freedom of the last beastly negro in the South for I don’t think that they are human. I am in for anything that will cause Union and peace of our once happy government.”

This is certainly not a definitive history of Indiana during the war—and, at 252 pages, it doesn’t try to be. But it stands to be an important addition to anyone’s Civil War library.


Originally published in the November 2010 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.