At 4:30 in the morning, on April 12, 1861--one hundred and fifty years ago today--Confederate artillery commenced its bombardment of Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina. Thirty-three hours later, the Union garrison at the fort surrendered. The next day, April 15, 1861--four years to the day before he died from an assassin's bullet--President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 troops to put down the insurrection. Thus was ushered in our great Civil War, perhaps the most profound event in American history.
In 1861, Indiana was in its forty-fifth year as a state. Its population was 1,350,428, fifth among the states. Initially, Indiana planned on filling the ranks of six regiments, about 4,600 men in all. Lew Wallace, a veteran of the Mexican war, was to serve as adjutant general and was charged with raising the needed number. So many men answered the call that some had to be turned away. By the end of the war, though, 197,141 Hoosiers had served in the Union cause, second among the states. Another 100,000 filled the ranks of the state militia. Over 25,000 of these men lost their lives. Not counted among that number is the nation's commander-in-chief, who--though he was born in Kentucky and elected from Illinois--spent his formative years in what is now Spencer County, Indiana.
The men who went to war came from all walks of life, art included. Some drew and painted scenes in their own diaries, letters, and sketchbooks. Others created works for publication. Lew Wallace (1827-1905) of Brookville and Crawfordsville was--in addition to being a lawyer, military officer, governor of New Mexico, minister to the Ottoman Empire, and author of the best-selling American novel of the nineteenth century--an artist and illustrator. James Farrington Gookins (1840-1904) of Terre Haute and Indianapolis, who served with Wallace for a time, drew sketches for woodcuts published in Harper's. And Adolph G. Metzner (1834-1918) of Indianapolis kept a sketchbook of the things he witnessed during his war years. (I have written about him in a previous entry, and his work is subject of a newly published book.) Countless artists who came after them have depicted scenes of the Civil War. In any case, we commemorate the men and women who served and died during those four years that rent a nation and the century and a half since that have mended it.
|Another image from Harper's. The caption reads: "At Romney, Va., June 11th, 1861,--The Eleventh Indiana Zouaves, Colonel Lewis Wallace, crossing, on the double quick, the bridge over the Potomac." The artist is unknown.|
There are of course other illustrations by Indiana artists on the topic of the Civil War. Unfortunately, many of them are protected from usage on the Internet. If anyone has pictures to offer, please send them to me at:
Text and captions copyright 2011 by Terence E. Hanley