Some of our most interesting letters deal with the Battle of Corydon. John Hunt Morgan, leader of "Morgan’s Raiders," was a particular scary problem for most Union men in the west. He appeared and disappeared almost at will. In this case, Union General Rosecrans was particularly pleased that Morgan was far north in Kentucky bothering Jasper and his fellow soldiers and out of the way. Rosecrans was just beginning to move from Nashville to Murfreesboro leading in time to the Union victory at Stones River. At any rate, Morgan was very brash and apparently wired false information to the local Union General which led to Jasper marching back to base and avoiding a fight. A lot of the letters refer to Morgan and the fear he put into the men. Jasper also refers to "those Butternuts" with disgust, which refers to people in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio who favored ending the war and allowing the South to secede.
In letter #2-9 Attia refers to “butternut” girls. This is a phrase common at the time to refer to people who are in favor of the South. There were quite a few in southern Indiana and in Corydon. Note she refers to the “grand victory in Pennsylvania” which is, of course, Gettysburg. She, like most others, again expected the war to be over shortly by taking Richmond. A Union officer captured a horse and sent him to the Porters to care for until the war is over. Judge Porter really is a Republican and went over to Leavenworth, (Indiana I think) to fight, but was too late. She refers to their “little Contraband” which is the black person they have around the house. This word indicates he was an escaped slave.
If you read no others, letter 2-11
is worth reading. Attia describes the Battle of
Corydon in considerable
detail. There is a book written by Frederick Porter
Griffin with the
not-too-catchy title "134 Years With Three
Generations Of Porters And
Griffins In The Governor's Headquarters." The
description of the
incident is on page 17 of the book is as follows:
"Judge Porter was a staunch supporter of the North in the Civil War. He was too old to serve in the Union Army, but he helped to defend Corydon against the Confederate Raiders of General John H. Morgan on July 9, 1863. Following the battle, word reached Corydon that a white-haired elderly Home Guard had been killed in the skirmish. His daughter, Aurelia, together with a girl companion, started for the battle field. When they reaached the Mauckport hill at the south edge of Corydon, General Morgan's main force had filled the road and was descending the hill. General Morgan inquired of the girls as to where they were going; they stated their purpose to investigate the possibility of Judge Porter being killed. General Morgan was very polite; he offered his regrets in the matter, and sent Basil Duke, a Confederate officer, to accompany the girls so they would not be molested. Upon reaching the battle field, the girls learned that Col. Jacob Ferree had been killed, not Judge Porter. The Judge and others of the Home Guard were able to make their escape from the Rebels, and successfully hid themselves and their Henry rifles. They returned to their homes the following morning when the Rebels were well to the north."
Attia does not give Morgan credit for this gentlemanly action on his part. Also very important was the fact that Judge Porter did not lose his Henry rifle. The Henry rifle that Judge Porter had purchased was one of the first repeating rifles and was quite important to the Union late in the war. Many of General Sherman’s men had them and the Rebel semi-humorous saying was that “Sherman’s men loaded on Sunday and fired all week.” Attia refers to Morgan giving the “copperheads” a hard time. This apparently was caused by the belief, generally held by the South, that as they went north, the people would join their cause and “swell the ranks.” In truth Morgan, and even General Lee in Maryland, found that while people might not like the war, they were not ready to fight for the South either. In the case of Morgan, a hot head, he could get mad about this problem. As was common, the Rebels confiscated “their property,” the Porter’s black hired hand, but of course, he escaped later and returned to the Porters.
The site of the skirmish has been preserved in the Corydon Battle Park.