The Civil War Period

The Indiana Legion

What was known as the "Indiana Legion" was the active militia organized within Indiana for internal defense. Our proximity to Kentucky, which, even if not a seceding state, promised to be troublesome territory, warranted a fear of invasion - which fear, as we shall see, was justified. Moreover, the dangers within from the disaffected element, that made its presence known before the war was very far advance, rendered imperative home military force under the command of the Governor.

The State Militia, though an institution of long standing, had become decadent, but an act of May 11, 1861, reestablished it, dividing it into two classes - the sedentary and the active. The first consisted of "all white male persons subject to bear arms under the constitution of Indiana, and who do not belong to the active militia." The latter was made up of volunteers between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, and was organized into nine brigades, through this represented an uncertain number of men, as the organization of companies in many localities was incomplete and impermanent. The southern counties, particularly those along the Ohio River, had greatest need for efficient defensive organization, while those in the north, having less need, were correspondingly slack. As this implies, the brigades as unites represented different groups of contiguous counties. The history of the Legion seems to be largely a history of the southern regiments, which protected the interior from the guerrillas of Kentucky much as the old frontier farther north had, in an earlier day, guarded the river counties from Indian forays. Many companies that were organized in the northern sections were not even supplied with arms and paid little attention to military drilling. The "sedentary" militia was never called upon. Indeed, the Legion as a whole in its inequalities, corresponding to the degree of stress, illustrate strikingly what had been illustrated before - namely, that our people have so little taste and aptitude for militarism that only dire emergency can arouse them to it. But the times also proved that when once thoroughly roused the military zeal burned fiercely. One service of the Legion where best organized was as a training school and a feeder to the quotas that went to the front as Indiana responded to the numerous calls from the government.