Elizabeth Boynton Harbert




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W.S. Harbert

A Portion of Will Harbert's Civil War Years

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A Chronicle of Civil War Service in the
Seventy-Sixth Regt
(19 July-14 Aug 1862)
Eighty-Fifth Regt
(14 Aug 1862-12 June 1865)
of the
Indiana Volunteer Infantry

WSH in uniform
Lt. Co. "C." Com. Reg. Chicago.

© 2012

1 JULY 1862 - 16 AUGUST 1862

JULY 1862

1 July 1862 (Tuesday): It is the first day at home in Terre Haute for William S. Harbert (WSH) after the end of the school year at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). He stopped in Crawfordsville to visit Lizzie M. Boynton (LMB) on the way home (arriving sometime between June 19th and 29th). He left Crawfordsville for home on the morning of June 30th. [LMB letter to WSH, 10 July 1862.]

LMB is at home. During the morning she has visits from John Caven, Milt Galey, Captain Ross and Dr. Thomas Fry.  1   Each of the men mentioned is a member of the 11th Ind. Regt, which had originally been formed a year earlier by Crawfordsville native Lew Wallace. [Terrell, v. 2, pp. 76,78,81.]. She spent the evening visiting with Mrs. Mary (Carter) Hovey, wife of Wabash College founder, E. O. Hovey. [LMB letter to WSH, 10 July 1862.]

2 July 1862 (Wednesday): LMB made and received calls. That evening Dr. Fry and his sisters visited with her. [LMB letter to WSH, 10 July 1862.]

In response to a petition by the governors of the Northern states (28 June), President Lincoln calls on the states to provide an additional 300,000 volunteers to serve 3-yr enlistments. In the view of W. H. H. Terrell, Adjutant General of Indiana,

This call came at a most unfortunate time. Our armies had, in some degree, lost their prestige. They had not only been defeated but out-generaled, which humiliated and discouraged the troops in the field, and materially detracted from that enthusiasm which was so needful to encourage recruiting at home. Then, the season of the year was unfavorable; the farmers being employed in harvesting, and every body busily engaged. Still the Governor went promptly and energetically to work; camps were formed, commandants appointed, recruiting lieutenants commissioned, and the whole machinery put in motion. The results at first were not encouraging. Recruiting dragged for a time, but the invasion of Kentucky by KIRBY SMITH and the threatened draft under the call of August, were sufficient to bring out the latent resources of the State. [Terrell; v. 1, p. 18.]

3 July 1862 (Thursday): LMB spent time, with "a small company" at the home of her aunt, Mrs. T. D. Brown. [LMB letter to WSH, 10 July 1862.] That evening she received a "short and rather cool" note from WSH. [LMB letter to WSH, 5 July 1862.]

4 July 1862 (Friday): Dr. Fry dined at LMB's, after which she "went to a festival at the Baptist Church, and had a splendid time." [LMB letter to WSH, 10 July 1862.]

Col. John Hunt Morgan, CSA, enters Kentucky on the start of what becomes known as "Morgan's First Kentucky Raid.".

5 July 1862 (Saturday): In the morning LMB writes WSH a letter, addressed from "Hurricane Hall" in Crawfordsville.  2   "Hurricane Hall" was the name given to the home of Lizzie's aunt and uncle, Ellen (Sweetser) Bryant and Maj. Robert E. Bryant. The name almost certainly reflect Robt. Bryant's experience in the Mexican War when, as a corporal in Company K, 1st Regt. Indiana Volunteers, his unit was stranded on Padre Island off the Texas Coast when its transport ship was wrecked by a hurricane. He served from 19 June 1846 and mustered out on 14 June 1847. [http://www.ingenweb.org/mexican/1STKMW.HTM.]. She states that his "short and rather cool note reached me Thursday eve. and was not, (I must confess) not very satisfactory." But, she attributes its lack of length and its tone to his having been "very much occupied" by catching up with family & friends, whom he had not seen since leaving for Ann Arbor the previous September. She writes that nothing had occurred "since you left to mar the usual peace and quietness of our little town.  3   According to the 1860 U.S. Census, the population of the Crawfordsville/Union Township was 5,027, excluding students residing at Wabash College. We are of course intensely interested in the state of things at Richmond, but all we can do is to wait, trusting to the God of Justice for the result."

That evening she received calls from many friends (whom she names), some of whom were inquiring about a concert she was organizing in support of the soldiers. [LMB letter to WSH, July 1862.]

Her remark regarding "Richmond" was an allusion to the circumstances surrounding what was rapidly becoming a very unsuccessful effort by the Army of the Potomac under the command of Union Maj. Gen. George McClellan to seize the Rebel capital of Richmond, Va., during what became known as his "Peninsula Campaign."

6 July 1862 (Sunday): In the evening LMB attended church with "Willie Lynn  4   This is probably 22-yr old William H. Lynn, a Crawfordsville grocer. [1860 U.S. Census, Crawfordsville.]. and Mr. Briton." [LMB letter to WSH, 10 July 1862.]

7 July 1862 (Monday): LMB went riding with Milt Galey, had tea at the Crawfordsville home of her aunt, Jemima (Nicolson) Sweetser, and then "attended a large party at Lizzie Sloan's."  5   This is probably 17-yr old Elizabeth Sloan, whose father, John, was a physician. [1860 U.S. Census, Crawfordsville.]. Also, a "Mr. Brown engaged my company for church next Sabbath evening." [LMB letter to WSH, 10 July 1862.]

On this day Oliver P. Morton, Governor of Indiana, issues a proclamation calling for more troops:

[T]he rebels ... greatly outnumber our forces now in the vicinity of Richmond. ****

The President ... has called for 300,000 men, a force deemed entirely adequate to the crushing out of the rebellion ...

Gov. Oliver P. Morton
 Gov. Oliver P. Morton of Indiana 

Again I call upon the loyal and patriotic men of Indiana to come forward and supply the quota due from our state. ...[I]t is the duty of every State to furnish, promptly, her full proportion of the military force called for by the President ...  6   Indiana's quota under this call was 21,250. [Terrell, v.1, p. 40.].

I therefore call upon every man, whatever may be his rank or condition in life, to put aside his business and come to the rescue of his country. Upon every man, individually, let me urge the solemn truth, that whatever may be his condition or business, he has no duty or business half so important to himself and his family as the speedy and effectual suppression of the rebellion.

*** And to the women of Indiana, whose hearts are so full of love of country, and who, by their labors and contributions, have done so much to relieve the sick and wounded soldiers, let me especially appeal. Emulate the virtues of the Roman patron - urge your sons, husbands, and brothers to the field. *** And to the maiden let me say, beware of the lover who, full of health and vigor, lingers at home in inglorious ease when his country calls him to arms. [Terrell; v. 1, p. 333, Doc. 123.]

8 July 1862 (Tuesday): Gov. Morton appoints "Col." Richard W. Thompson, of Terre Haute, commandant of the new rendezvous camp for Indiana regiments. It is located about 2 miles east of town and is named "Camp Dick Thompson" in his honor. It is here that the 85th Ind. Regt will later be organized and trained. [Welcher, p. 7.]

On the same day, the ranking Union general in the Western Theater, Don Carlos Buell, sent Gov. Morton a telegram informing him that "a formidable raid" threatened Kentucky, and urged him to send all existing forces to General Boyle, commanding the Union forces in Kentucky.

9 July 1862 (Wednesday): LMB, joined by friend "Carrie", goes to dine at Harley Ristine's house.  7   Harley Ristine was the 23-year old son of Ben Ristine, a Crawfordsville lawyer. Ben's father, Henry, owned and operated a hotel in Crawfordsville at the time Lizzie's father, William "Billy" Boynton, arrived in town in Feb. 1840. Billy is shown residing in the hotel in the 1840 U.S. Census. Friend Fred White took them in his buggy. They then spent the evening "at Mrs. Butler's."  8   This was probably Sue Butler, the 22-year old wife of Crawfordsville attorney, John Butler. [1860 U.S. Census.]. [LMB letter to WSH, 10 July 1862.]

On this day Morgan's cavalry routs the Union cavalry at Tompkinsville, Ky, and moves on to Glasgow.

Also on the 9th another unit of Confederate cavalry, Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest in command, crosses the Tennessee River.

10 July 1862 (Thursday): LMB is staying with her aunt Ellen at Hurricane Hall. She writes to WSH, making reference to Gov. Morton's proclamation made earlier in the week (see 7 July above):

Gov. Morton's proclamation summons many more of our noble boys to the rescue. His appeal will be listened to by the ladies as well. *** When I hear girls calmly say I wish all my brothers would go, I realize how strong their love of country is. Will you gentlemen cannot know the anxiety that woman feels for absent loved ones.  9   It seems likely that Lizzie was discussing those feelings with her Aunt Ellen, whose husband Major Robert Bryant was at this time serving with Grant's forces in and around Corinth, Mississippi. And you know not how deep the feeling must be that gives me strength to say to you that if you should become convinced that tis your duty to join the ranks, do not let one thought of me enter your heart to detain you. The new proclamation has fired the hearts of our boys, until it seems like the days after the fall of Sumter.

Morgan's cavalry occupies Glasgow, KY.

Gen. Jeremiah T. Boyle, telegraphed Gov. Morton, "Rebels invading Kentucky. Send your battery tonight, and any forces you can possibly spare. Put the Legion in motion and direct as many as possible to report to my headquarters tomorrow." The Governor responded that the battery had already been sent to Washington the previous week, and he had no troops except those guarding prisoners. "I have telegraphed about the Legion," he continued, "but fear no companies are in shape to move." [Terrell; v. 1, p. 151.]

12 July 1862 (Saturday): Morgan occupies Lebanon, Ky, seizes 200 prisoners, and smashes the Central Kentucky rail facilities. Union Gen. Green Clay Smith, commanding Union forces at Henderson, Ky., just across the Ohio from Indiana, declares that he has insufficient forces available to defend that post. [Terrell; v. 1, p. 153.]

14 July 1862 (Monday): Morgan crosses the Kentucky River, threatens Lexington, and heads for Cynthiana, which is within 60 miles of Cincinnati.

17 July 1862 (Thursday): Morgan's cavalry crosses the Licking River at Claysville, Ky., just 20 miles south of Cincinnati.

Col Adam Rankin Johnson
 Col. Adam Rankin Johnson 
He led the raid on
Newburg, Indiana

18 July 1862 (Friday): A unit of Rebel partisans under the command of Col. Adam Rankin Johnson seizes Newburg, Indiana, located on the Ohio River 15 miles above Evansville.

On the same day, Gov. Morton wrote Secretary of War Stanton that: "The rebels have ... crossed the [Ohio] river and taken Newburg, Ind.; killed one of our men and taken 250 of our sick in hospital prisoners. They took 250 arms and destroyed the hospital stores." [OR, Series 1, v. 16, pt. 1, p. 813.] The raid created "throughout the State, the most intense excitement. *** The wildest rumors circulated in every direction ... [and] the entire State was thoroughly aroused." [Terrell; v. 1, p. 145.]

Gen. Green Clay Smith is forced to withdraw from Henderson, Ky. The "whole 'Green River country' [was] overrun with rebel bands, and the Indiana border threatened with invasion at many points." [Terrell; v. 1, p. 153.] (In 1860 the Ohio River was much narrower than it is today, and in the summer of 1862 was readily fordable at several points. Consequently it was not much of a barrier to invasion.)

19 July 1862 (Saturday) (morning): WSH found himself preparing to open his father's general store, key in hand. After reading of the raid on Newburg in the paper lying on the sidewalk in front of the store, he hurriedly joined his uncle, Benjamin Harbert, and some sixty-seven of his friends, and neighbors, forming an independent militia unit called the "Union Rifles,"  10   See Terrell; v.3, p.9; v. 6, p. 243; & v. 1, p. 148. Also Love, pp. 11-12. In the official roster, Will is listed as quot;William Harbut." His uncle, Benjamin Harbert, (half-brother of Will's father) listed as "Benjamin Harbut." See Appendix I for the company roster. commanded by Capt. Melvin D. Topping.  11   Once the Seventy-sixth Regt was disbanded, Topping entered service as a Lt. Col. of the 71st Regt, stationed in Richmond, Ky. He was killed in the battle that took place there on 30 Aug -- barely a month after the raid on Newburg. WSH's personal excitement was such that in his rush to respond, he had forgotten about the store key in his pocket; and a few days later sheepishly mailed it to his father with a letter of apology.  12   Boynton-Harbert Papers; WSH reminiscence manuscript no. 1.

Lt. Col. John T. Wilder
 Lt. Col. John T. Wilder of the 
Seventy-Sixth Ind. Regt

20 July 1862 (Sunday): By chance, Col. James Gavin, commander of the 7th Indiana Regt, and Col. John T. Wilder, commander of the 17th Indiana Regt, were at their homes in Decater County, on furlough. Within thirty-six hours they had organized six companies of volunteers (600 men), and reached Evansville, Indiana, on July 20th. They were joined later in the day by the "Union Rifles" and another Terre Haute company commanded by Capt. Ike Mahan. Two additional companies raised in Lafayette  13   One of the Lafayette companies was commanded by a man with the extraordinary name of Godlove Stein Orth. He had served in the Indiana State Senate (1843-49), and as acting Lt. Gov. in 1845. The year after the Newburg raid, he was a member of Congress (1863-1871, 1873-75, & 1879-82). In the later 1860s while he was visiting the home of Lizzie Boynton and her parents, she had occasion to save his life. [Boynton-Harbert Papers; EMB reminiscence.]. joined them on the same day. Totaling approximately 1,000 men, the forces were formed into a regiment consisting of ten companies. They were formerly organized as the 76th Regiment Indiana Volunteers, under the direct command of Col. Gavin, with Wilder as Lt. Colonel.  14   Terrell; v. 3, p. 9. The Union Rifles were designated Company "I" in the Regiment. A complete roster for Company "I", 76th Ind. Regt, appears at the end of this Chapter.

Steam Ram
 Steam Ram of the type that carried Will Harbert & the Union Rifles up the Green River 

Upon their arrival they determined that two steam boats were moored up the Green River in Kentucky, which they believed Johnson and his men hoped to seize. The 76th Ind Regt was now reinforced by a naval contingent under the command of Capt. Pennock, USN, a detachment of Illinois militia, and an artillery battery. WSH and the rest of the Union Rifles were placed aboard a steam ram "and ordered to proceed up Green River" to secure the boats, and "also to protect the locks on that stream."  15   Terrell; v. 1, pp. 148-149. A "steam ram" is a steam-powered boat the principal weapon of which is its hardened and reinforced bow which is used to penetrate the bow of an enemy ship. The mission was a success.

22 July 1862 (Tuesday) (1:00 a.m.): The 76th Ind. Regt was sent across the Ohio to Henderson, Ky, in search of rebel guerillas. According to Terrell, Gen. Love ordered the regiment to shoot any guerrillas found, declaring "They must be shot. Nothing else will do; I do not want such prisoners." The Regt remained in the vicinity of Henderson for a week, with detachments sent on search-and-destroy missions. Several skirmishes occurred, netting (contrary to Love's expressed desire) several prisoners.  16   Ibid.

Neither Morgan nor Johnson took any further action near the Ohio River at this time. In fact, at the time the 76th Regt was prowling the environs of Henderson, Morgan had completed his raid. His troops had covered 1,000 miles, and captured & paroled 1200 Union soldiers; while losing only 90 of his command in the process. The raid had done considerable damage to the morale in the Northern states.

On the same day that the Regt secured Henderson, the U. S. Congress passed an Act authorizing the use of "Volunteers to aid in enforcing the laws and protecting the public property." The Act empowered the governors of the northern states to commission all regimental and company officers for these units. [Terrell; v. 1, p. 85.]

27 July 1862 (Sunday): While Will Harbert and the rest of the Union Rifles were prowling along the Green and Ohio rivers in search of guerillas, another Confederate cavalry commander was giving the Union forces in southern Tennessee, under the command of Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, fits. The Rebel cavalry officer was Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest (whose abilities Will would personally witness in March of 1863). On July 27th he successfully attacked the Tullahoma/Manchester Railroad at Manchester, Tennessee. This snapped the railroad line upon which Buell's forces depended for food and supplies. To reestablish that line Buell was forced to pull back two divisions of his army.


3 Aug 1862 (Sunday): A month has passed since LMB has seen or heard from WSH. Not only had Will not responded to her July letters, her best friend, Alice Crawford told her that she had just received a letter from her own beau, Jimmie Gookins, which said that "Will H. is fighting the rebels in Kentucky!" And he would have reason to know: he was a native of Terre Haute where his father was a prominent lawyer and judge; he had been Will's best friend since early childhood; he and Will were roommates when they attended Wabash College together in 1859-60; and Jimmie was now (August 1862) civilian aide to General Lew Wallace. In short, Lizzie knew that Jimmie's comment was not a baseless rumor.

Lizzie puts pen to paper, addressing yet another letter to Will (her third since she last saw him). Still visiting with her aunt Ellen at "Hurricane Hall," her fear and hurt flowed freely. " ... I seat myself ... to write you. But, how to write I know not nor where. For four weeks I have not received a single word from you," she began. She mentions Jimmie's report, saying "aside from that I have not the least idea where you are." Taking his silence to mean he was losing interest in her, she scolds him:

If you have ceased to love me, would it not be more gentlemanly for you to write and tell me so? *** Never since we have known each other has so long a time elapsed between your letters. *** Did you enlist and go to war, and not even write me a good bye! If so the love I have given you is yours no longer. If you have ceased to love me write and tell me so, and you need not fear that by word, look or deed, you will ever be reminded of my love. You asked me for my love, and I gave you the love of a trusting young heart. But, hint that you are weary of it and it will not be yours an hour.

Whatever may be your feelings towards me, I suppose I may as friend of the soldier, tell you that I am truly glad to know that you are willing to offer up life itself for that great, best, most glorious boon - a free country. And if I may not call you friend, that as a soldier, my prayers and well wishes shall ever go with thee.

Respectfully, Lizzie M. Boynton

[P.S.] As I do not know where you are, I will send this to Charlie Ross and let her mail it at Terre Haute. Please direct your answer to Mrs. R. E. Bryant, Crawfordsville, Ind.  17   Boynton-Harbert Papers; LMB letter of 3 Aug 1862, written from "my room." "Charlie" was Lizzie's close Terre Haute friend, Charlotte Ross. She was Lizzie's second cousin and roommate during their attendance at the Terre Haute Female Seminary during the 1861-62 term. The Ross family lived next door to the Harberts.

11 Aug 1862 (Monday): LMB writes to WSH from "my room." She says that she just an hour earlier had received his two letters from him. One of them must have told her of his activities and his decision to enlist in one of the newly forming 3-yr regiments, as she implores "do not go until you see me."

She also mentions that their Crawfordsville friend, Capt. (later Major) Isaac Elston, is visiting along with his new bride (they had been married 4 days earlier). Elston is a member of the 11th Ind. Regt, and would serve as a member of Lew Wallace's staff during the Defense of Cincinnati (discussed in the following chapter), etc.

Col. John Hunt Morgan
 Col. John Hunt Morgan 

12 Aug 1862 (Tuesday): John Hunt Morgan's cavalry attacks Gallatin, Tenn., above Nashville, completely destroying an 800-foot tunnel of the Louisville/Nashville Railroad. This cut the main supply line for the Union troops preparing for an advance on Chattanooga. With the Cumberland River too low to support shipping, Buell's Union troops are cut-off from food supplies, and are forced to consume those that had been cached for the planned offensive.

In the morning of that same day, LMB writes a letter to WSH which refers to her letter of the previous day, then "The fear that you will enter the army without coming to see me so haunts me that I could not resist the temptation to write you again this morning, and again ask you if you won't come to see me."

Alexander B. Crane
Alexander B. Crane
As Captain, he mustered Will
Harbert into Company "C"

13 Aug 1862 (Wednesday): Gov. Morton authorizes the organization of eleven additional 3-yr regiments, which includes the 85th Ind. Regt. The Regiment is to be organized by John P. Baird at Terre Haute, with Company "C" thereof to be organized by another Terre Haute lawyer, Alexander B. Crane.  18   Welcher; pp. 3 & 5. Given the population of Terre Haute (approx. 8500), the fact that Will's father was a leading merchant in town, and Will's status as a law student, it is certain that he had at least a passing acquaintance with both Baird and Crane.

14 Aug 1862 (Thursday): Will Harbert was enrolled as a private in Company "C" by Crane. He was 20 years old, with grey eyes, dark hair and a light complexion. He stood 5' 4" tall.  19   Certificate of Service; WSH Declaration for Pension (8 July 1912); Veteran's Records transcript from Indiana State Archives. Based on historical studies, Will was younger and shorter than the average Union soldier. As a twenty-year old, he was six years younger than the average. He was about four inches shorter than the average. [Civil War Times, Dec 2003.]. On the same day he was made First Sergeant, making him the highest ranking enlisted man in the company of eighty-eight officers and men.

Col. Richard W. Thompson
"Col." Richard W. Thompson
Known affectionately as "Col.
Dick" by the recruits, he was
commandant of Camp Dick
Thompson, where WSH & the
85th Ind. received basic training

16 Aug 1862 (Saturday): By this day the newly formed Regiment was encamped at Camp Dick Thompson, located about two miles east of 25th Street in Terre Haute. The camp was named for its commandant, "Colonel" Richard W. Thompson.  20   Thompson was a former city attorney for Terre Haute, and had served two terms in Congress. Though never serving in the military (he was fifty-two years old when the war started), he held the honorary title of "Colonel" bestowed upon him by Gov. Morton. Despite his lack of military experience, he later served as Secretary of the United States Navy from 1877-1881 under President Hayes. It was there that Will and his comrades received their basic introduction to full-time military life.

Lizzie's great fear had been realized - Will had gone into the service without going to see her. It would be nine months before she would again lay eyes on him.

(30 DAY SERVICE)  21   Terrell; v. 3, pp. 9 & 11, v. 6, pp. 242-243. All the officers and enlisted men in Company "I" were from Terre Haute.

Regimental Command/Staff

Colonel - James Gavin

Lt. Col. - John T. Wilder

Major - Samuel W. Elliot

Adjutant - Irvin Robbins

Q'rtmaster - Saml A. Bonner

Asst. Surgeon - John M. Simms

Asst. Surgeon - Wm. Davidson

Company "I" Musicians

Rufus Sephins

Emerson E. Fisher

Company "I" Command

Captain - Melville D. Topping

1st Lt. - Wilson J. Williams

2nd Lt. - Fred A. Ross

1st Sgt. - Elijah W. Pick

Sgt. - Alvin N. Madison

Sgt. - Charles M. Warren

Sgt. - Thomas F. Wells

Corporal - Frank C. Crawford

Corporal - Joseph C. Gifford

Corporal - George N. Hays

Corporal - Wm. N. Monroe

Privates of Company "I" (formerly "Union Rifles")

Moses Alshuler

Augustus Arnold

John H. Berry

Charles L. Branson

Chauncey H. Carr

William Coats

George R. Collamer

Samuel Connor

Joseph Cox

Wm. H. Donaldson

Herny W. Dawey

G. Biddell Duy

Martin W. Easly

Irwin Earney

Crawford Fairbanks

George E. Farrington

Jonathan Gillinan

William H. Glass

August B. Goodwin

Mayor B. Hudson

George W. Haberly

William Harbut [Harbert][See discussion below]

Benjamin Harbut [Harbert]

Wm. H. Henerson

Edward Hitchcock

Squire W. Holmes

Charles E. Hasford

Edward P. Hovey

Daniel W. Johnson

Julius Kahn

George Kirchner

Alonzo J. Lee

Herbert C. Madison

Milton J. McCaskey

Alexander McGregor

Samuel McKeen

Archibald McKinney

James S. Nutt

Benjamin F. Paddock

David E. Paddock

James Paddock

William S. Potwin

Henry M. Pratt

William H. Reed

Samuel T. Reese

John W. Robinson

Roch F. Robb

Philip Schloss

Henry H. Sibley

Ballard Smith

James L. Simpson

William Standerford

James B. Williams

Nhomas W. Watkins

George S. West

Maxwell C. Wood

Determining that "William Harbut" on the roster of the 76th Indiana was William Harbert.

The Boynton-Harbert Papers include three documents that contain the initial clues that led to the discovery that the person listed on the roster of the 76th Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry (a 30-day unit) as "William Harbut" was William Harbert.

First is an entry made by William Soesbe Harbert on his "Declaration for Pension" stating that prior to his enlistment in Company "C" of the 85th Ind. Regt, he had "also served previously in a short term service - going out from Terre Haute Ind to resist a threatened raid by John Morgan."

Second is a typed manuscript of a talk he had prepared concerning his Civil War service:

"[I] ... was sent one morning to open [my] father's office. The morning paper contained the startling news that rebel General John Morgan had invaded [my] State and was rapidly marching northward. There was a call for volunteers to respond immediately to repel the invader. The office boy at once enlisted, and afterwards asked permission to do so, by a letter from the front, returning the office key."

Third is the letter written to him by LMB on Aug. 3, 1862 (see above), in which Lizzie relates that Jimmie Gookins says that Will "is fighting the rebels in Kentucky!"

Was there (1) a raid attributed to Morgan that was an attack on Indiana (Will's "my state" reference); that, (2) occurred prior to his August 14th enlistment (statement in Declaration for Pension); when (3) he was in Terre Haute; and, (4) the unit went into Kentucky (Gookins' statement)? Yes, and only one - the raid on Newburg, Indiana, that occurred in July 1862, and was generally believed to have been carried out by a detachment of Morgan's cavalry.

Did a Terre Haute militia unit respond to that raid? Yes, in fact Terrell tells us [p. 148] that there were two companies of citizens from Terre Haute who were included in the men that made up the 76th: one was the "Union Rifles" commanded by Melville D. Topping, the other was a unit commanded by Ike Mahan.

Did the "Union Rifles" fight "the rebels in Kentucky" as Jimmie Gookins was quoted in Lizzie's letter to Will dated 3 August 1862? Yes. The roster of the 76th Ind. lists the residences of each member, and the only companies identified as being made up of men from Terre Haute are Company "I", and Company "K". The roster of Company "K" contains no names that come close to "Harbert." But, the roster for Company "I" (formerly the Union Rifles) contains the name of "William Harbut."

A check of the 1860 U. S. Census for Terre Haute reveals that there was no "William Harbut" living in Terre Haute - in fact, there was none living in Indiana. Furthermore, the roster also lists a "Benjamin Harbut." The Census demonstrates that there was nobody by that name living in Terre Haute, either. But, William Harbert's uncle, Benjamin Harbert (the 30-yr old half-brother of Will's father) was living in Terre Haute.

The confluence of all these facts forcefully demonstrates that the "short term service" Will referred to in his pension declaration and the letter "from the front" returning the office key, were references to the formation of - and his service in - the Union Rifles; and that unit's advance up the Green River into Kentucky in response to the Newburg Raid.



Boynton-Harbert Papers

A collection of letters, unpublished memoirs, journals, photographs, and other documents maintained by individual members of The Boynton-Harbert Society, a California non-profit public benefit association.


The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies


Indiana in the War of the Rebellion, official report of W. H. H. Terrell, Adjutant General (1869)


Coburn's Brigade: 85th Indiana, 33rd Indiana, 19th Michigan, and 22nd Wisconsin in the Western Civil War, by Welcher, Frank Johnson and Ligget, Larry G.; Guild Press of Indiana (2000).

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