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Civil War and Reconstruction
The North During the Civil War
Morgan's Raid Through Ripley County, Indiana

The following document is an excerpt from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940, from Indiana. It tells about a raid by Confederate Colonel John Morgan's troops through Indiana. Morgan's raid was part of General Robert E. Lee's invasion of the North in the summer of 1863. What does the story reveal about the attitudes toward the war that at least some Indiana people held?

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"Morgan forced the father of John Roberts to help roll the cars to the center of the bridges, after they had taken him prisoner. He said that colonel Basil Duke gave orders to burn all railroad property and to take what property from the citizens they needed for the army but not to destroy private property. He said to Mr. Roberts, 'Old man if you could only see our country, down south, how we have been driven from our homes and our houses burned you might feel yourself lucky to have fallen into more generous hands than those of the Yankees."

Mr. Roberts replied, that, "I believe you are telling the truth, as I have two boys in the Union army, and if things are damaged as badly in the south as they write home it must be terrible."

The Colonel said, "We have not come here to destroy private property but to show you boys that you are on the wrong side. We are here to give you people a chance to help toward a good cause. We are very much in need of good horses. Our horses were good but are worn out with rapid marching."

. . . A few Ripley County men were taken along with the raiders as "guides" to the next point desirable to reach toward Cincinnati, as the dash toward Indianapolis collapsaddinto flight. These men were accused by their neighbors of being members of the "Butternut-Copperhead" organizations, whether justly in any case was never proven. The routed Homeguards and citizens at Versailles and in other counties avoided bloodshed by their inability to oppose the marauders. The leaders of the raid were gallant southern gentlemen at heart and brothers across the river of the people through whose states they led their line of march. Southern Indiana was settled by men from Kentucky and Virginia more largely than from [any?] other source. . . .

At Versailles Col. Morgan Demanded the funds from the safe of the county treasurer. The treasury was in charge of deputy, B. F. Spencer, who had safely buried the county funds hours before Morgan arrived. He opened the safe and gave the rebel leader the cash, $5000. A number of purses also lay in the safe. "What are those?" inquired the raider.

"They are purses of money placed here by several widowed ladies for safe-keeping," the gallant Spencer, of Kentucky blood, himself answered the Confederate leader.

"Keep them safe. I never robbed a widow yet", was Morgan's farewell word as he ordered his men to remount and to ride . . .
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View the entire article from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.