Civil War Walking Tour of Madison Indiana
WELCOME TO MADISON, a historic Ohio River town rich in Civil War heritage. While no battles were fought here (although Confederate Raider General John Hunt Morgan contemplated attacking the town in 1863), Madison’s location, port facilities, and wartime manufacturing capacity increased its strategic importance. What makes Madison’s Civil War heritage special, however, is the spirit of its people.
In the years leading up to the War, Madison maintained strong economic and cultural ties to the South. Many residents had roots in the South, and 1850s Madison truly reflected a microcosm of national debate. Bitter disputes regarding slavery, territorial expansion, and states’ rights were commonplace. Arguments between pro-south Senator Jesse Bright and local newspaper publisher Michael Garber were legendary. Sensing an inevitable conflict, energetic young leaders like Alois Bachman organized the Madison Greys, a militia unit.
Despite Madison’s ties to the South, the town whole-heartedly supported President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers after Fort Sumter was fired upon in 1861. Three companies of the 6th Indiana, the state’s first volunteer infantry regiment, were organized in Madison and led by Union patriots like Thomas Crittenden, Jerry Sullivan, and Alois Bachman. Crittenden and Sullivan eventually attained the rank of general. Madison even produced an admiral, Napoleon Collins, best known for his controversial capture of the Confederate raider, C.S.S. Florida in a Brazilian harbor. It is estimated that Madison, with a population of 12,000 residents furnished 4,500 troops to the Union armies. Madison constructed two gunboats, established two training camps, and supported one of the largest military hospitals west of the Alleghenies. Few towns of Madison’s size contributed more to the Union war effort.
Sadly few towns sacrificed as much either. Residents daily read The Madison Courier announcements of those killed, wounded, or dead from disease. Five field officers were killed in battle leading their regiments or brigades; no town in Indiana lost as many of its prominent citizen-soldiers. Among those killed was 23-year-old Lt. Colonel Alois Bachman, commanding the 19th Indiana when he died at Antietam. Lt. Colonel John Gerber of the 24th Indiana was killed on the second day of Shiloh, and Lt. Col. Jacob Glass of the all-German 32nd Indiana was killed while attacking up Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga. All three were brought back and laid to rest in nearby Springdale Cemetery. Lt. Col. John A. Hendricks, son of former Indiana Governor William Hendricks, died while commanding the 22nd Indiana at Pea Ridge, Arkansas and lies buried in nearby Fairmont Cemetery, Col. Philemon P. Baldwin was killed leading his brigade at Chickamauga. His body was never recovered.
This 45-minute walk through the heart of Madison’s historic district will acquaint you with several of the town’s Civil War era personalities, and sites. Keep in mind that many of the homes you’ll walk by were inhabited by families whose men went to war. Taking charge of these households wives and mothers contributed to the union cause. They sewed clothing and flags, cut bandages, and baked for soldiers being trained or hospitalized. Imagine the face of an anxious mother peering through the window, waiting for the word from her son – not knowing he lies in an unmarked grave in a distant southern battlefield. If you have additional time, we invite you to extend your tour to other sites nearby that will add to your understanding of Madison’s civil war legacy. Take your time, reflect and listen to the echoes of the past.
This walking tour is the property of the Civil War Roundtable and is used by permission. For more information on the Civil War Roundtable call: 1-812-283-6907
Special thanks to Mary Carol Pedigo for some of the photos used on this page.
Elm & West First Streets
Completed in 1844, this showpiece Greek Revival mansion, a state historic site, was the home of banker/financier James F.D. Lanier until he moved to New York City in l851. At the beginning of the Civil War, Indiana was virtually bankrupt, and Governor Oliver P. Morton personally sought funds from Lanier. Loyal to the Union and a shrewd businessman, Lanier responded by making two loans that exceeded one million at an interest rate of 8%. This enabled Indiana to outfit and equip its volunteers and otherwise helped Governor Morton neutralize the bitter political feuding taking place throughout the state. And yes, every dollar borrowed was paid back.
From the Lanier Mansion, walk east to Elm Street, turn left and walk north (away from the river). The next stop is on the northeast corner of Elm and Second Street.
Dunn / Colby House
Second & Elm Streets
This house was built in 1838-1839 for Daniel Colby. Before the war, the home was occupied by William McKee Dunn and his family, including son William McKee Dunn, Jr. The elder Dunn served as a congressman in 1861-1862. After losing the 1862 election, he joined the Union army and was eventually appointed Judge Advocate General for the State of Missouri. He was promoted to brevet (honorary) brigadier general in March 1865 for organizing the Department of Military Justice. In 1864, 19-year-old Lt. William McKee Dunn, Jr. performed staff duties for General Ulysses S. Grant. These responsibilities included escorting Grant’s son, 6-year old Jesse, away from the frontline trenches at Petersburg, Virginia. Grant said of young Dunn, “He was as brave as Julius Caesar.”
Continue walking north on Elm one block to West Main Street. Turn left (west) and walk one block to Vine Street. Cross West Main at Vine and continue walking west to the first house on your right (north) .It is partially hidden by two large holly trees.
608 West Street
Emile Todd was the stepsister or Mary Todd Lincoln and, although married to Confederate General Benjamin Helm, remained a favorite of Abraham Lincoln. General Helm was killed while Kentucky’s Orphan Brigade at Chickamauga. Grief-stricken Emilie went north and even stayed with the Lincolns a short time. After the war, Mrs. Helm moves to Madison and eventually lived in this house. To support herself, she gave piano lessons and played the organ at nearby Christ Episcopal Church.
Turn around and walk east on West Main to Vine. Turn Left (North) and walk past the First Baptist Church (built in 1853-1860) on your right to West Third Street. Turn right and walk 1 1/2 blocks on the north side of Third, crossing Elm. Your next stop is the sixth house on your left past Elm.
312 West Third Street
Jesse D. Bright, the fiery lieutenant governor and senator from Madison, lived in this house from 1840 to 1857. A friend of Henry Clay and bitter enemy of Stephen A. Douglas as well as The Madison Courier publisher Michael Garber, Bright consistently sided with the Southern Democrats in the years prior to the War. Bright had the dubious distinction of being expelled from the U.S. Senate on February 5, 1862, after charges of disloyalty were brought against him. The incriminating evidence (perhaps obtained through the efforts of publisher Garber) was a letter written by Bright before the firing on Fort Sumter addressed “To His Excellency Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederation of States” recommending a friend who had made “improvements in firearms.” Continue walking east on West Third to the intersection of Broadway. Turn right, and walk past the Broadway Fountain to Main Street. Cross Main and turn left (east) walking up West Main one block to Poplar. At Poplar, turn right (towards the river) and walk one block to the corner of Second Street.
This house, built in 1818, was the residence of Virginia transplant Judge Jeremiah Sullivan and his large family. Two brothers who grew up here, Algernon Sydney and younger Jeremiah, Jr. (Jerry to his family) were completely opposite and reflected the turbulence of the years leading up to the War. Algernon, a lawyer like his father, also married a Virginian and had established a successful practice in New York City by the start of the War. Due to his willingness to legally defend Southern seamen who had been captured and charged with piracy, he was ultimately accused of disloyalty in the fall of 1861 and sent to Fort Layfette in New York Harbor. Eventually released, he remained openly sympathetic with the South. Brother Jerry, long considered the patriotic but irresponsible and care-free sibling, enthusiastically began his military career as a captain in the 6th Indiana and was later promoted to colonel of the 13th Indiana. The high point in his career came at the Battle of Kernstown where he commanded a brigade and helped to defeat Stonewall Jackson. Commissioned a brigadier general, Sullivan was transferred west. He led a brigade at both Luka and Corinth, and unsuccessfully tried to contain Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Tennessee. Jerry Sullivan served as inspector general on the staff of General Grant at Vicksburg. He was later sent back east to command a division under his father-in-law, General Benjamin F. Kelley. He resigned from the Army on May 11, 1865, and ventured out to California.
Nearby Locations to add to your tour
Springdale contains the remains of nearly 300 Madison men who served in the Union Army and two Confederate soldiers, one of whom is buried in the “Soldier’s Section.” Among those interred is Admiral Napoleon Collins, responsible for capturing the C.S.S. Florida. In addition, Alois Bachmon, John Gerber, and Jacob Glass, all young lieutenant colonels killed in combat are buried here. Other notables include Colonel Michael Garber, publisher of The Madison Courier and Quartermaster General for General W.T. Sherman’s famous “March to the Sea.’ Prior to that, Garber furnished the materials used in the construction of the Bailey Dams at saved the Union naval fleet during the Red River Campaign 1864
Middleton Statue, Courthouse Square
This Soldiers and Sailors’ monument, typical in many counties both North and South was dedicated in 1907. George Middleton, a private in the illustrious 3rd Indiana Cavalry, wanted to commemorate his “brother soldiers” who had fought nearly 50 years earlier. Middleton did not live to see the statues unveiling, but many aged but proud veterans were on hand for the dedication.
Fairplay Company #1 Firehouse,
405 East Main St
At the beginning of the War, Indiana’s oldest volunteer fire company formed the Fairplay Military Company with approximately 40 members eventually serving in various Indiana regiments. Eleven did not survive the War.
Madison Hospital, 1251 West Main Street
The Madison Country Club is the site of a 30-acre military hospital that opened in 1863. The facility, which featured its own bakery, could accommodate 2,000 wounded and sick soldiers and was one of the largest hospital complexes in the west. By the end of the War, over 8,000 men were treated. Federal doctors occupied the large Federal style home east of the country club. Today it is the Whitehall Bed & Breakfast.
Jefferson County Historical Society Museum,
615 West First Street
The museum displays weapons and accouterments, a drum from the 19th Indiana (Bachman’s regiment), and the flag of the Madison Greys pre-civil War militia unit.