A complete listing of soldiers from Putnam County that served in the numerous Civil War Regiments appears in The Report of W.H.H. Terrell Adjutant General Indiana, available from DePauw's Roy O. West Library.
Aden Cavins was a soldier who attended Indiana Asbury University in 1847 and enlisted in Company E of the 59th Indiana Volunteer Regiment, a regiment partially made up of Putnam County soldiers. He is pictured below.
here and here to read two letters written by Matilda Cavins to her husband Aden. Matilda Cavins is pictured below.
Thomas Lyon was born in Owen County, Indiana, and a student at Indiana Asbury University in 1862. Lyon joined the 20th Indiana Battery Light Artillery which saw action in Alabama and Tennessee. Lyon kept a journal of his experiences from January of 1864 to January of 1865. Lyon's mess kit was essential equipment for a soldier on the march. Religious faith comforted soldiers as they confronted the possibility of death in battle. Music provided a diversion from the tedious nature of camp life. Click here to examine artifacts that belonged to Lyon that are located in the DePauw University Archives. Two E.E. Edwards drawings below depict camp life.
Col. Eli Lilly is among Putnam County's most prominent Civil War veterans. After opening his first drug store in Greencastle in January 1861, Lilly went off to war in April 1861. Lilly volunteered in the Asbury Guards and became an orderly sergeant after declining election as Second Lieutenant. When the Asbury Guards were not needed in Indianapolis, Lilly enlisted in the Putnam Rifles, 21st Regiment of the Indiana Volunteer Militia, in July 1861. Lilly later organized the 18th Indiana Battery of Light Artillery as a captain, having been appointed to the post by Gov. Oliver P. Morton. This battery served under Gen. William Rosencrans and Lilly participated in the battles of Hoover's Gap and Chickamauga in 1863. He returned to Indiana, organized the Ninth Indiana Cavalry, and became a major and colonel before discharging in 1865. The diary of William H. Anderson, located in the DePauw University Archives, is written by a soldier who served under Lilly in the 18th Indiana Battery. Occasional mention of Lilly is made in the diary. The photograph below shows Lilly on the right with Col. George W. Jackson on the left.
Charles O. Waggoner, a Civil War soldier from Putnam County, served in Company A 78th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Captured by Confederate soldiers, in this parole contract Waggoner agrees not to take up arms against the Confederacy until a prisoner exchange takes place.
Reuben Newman served in Company I, of the 27th Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry, half of which was made up of Putnam County soldiers. Company I was originally formed in Putnamville and called "The Putnam County Grays." The 27th Regiment was part of the Army of the Potomac and fought in many noteworthy Civil War battles including Gettysburg and Antietam. The 27th Indiana Regiment is honored with monuments on the Gettysburg and Antietam battlefields and with a marker at Gettysburg. Newman was wounded at Antietam and died on June 13th, 1906. He is buried in New Providence Cemetery in Jefferson Township. The 27th Indiana Regiment's monuments located at Antietam (left) and Gettysburg (middle) as well as the Gettysburg marker (right) are pictured below.
Barton W. Mitchell, a soldier from Bloomington who had enlisted in Putnam County, made one of the Civil War's most memorable discoveries on September 12th, 1862, when he found Gen. Robert E. Lee's battle plans for the invasion of Maryland wrapped around three cigars. The legend of the lost order is among the most frequently told stories of the Civil War. Mitchell served as a corporal in the 27th Regiment. A copy of the order is pictured below.
Jasper Allee also served in the 27th Regiment and died at age 21 in the service of the Union Army. While waiting to be discharged in August 1865, Allee injured himself with a hand axe while sharpening a tent stake. He passed away from gangrene, a telling reminder that disease killed more soldiers than bullets. Allee is buried in Mill Creek Cemetery. T
Robert Townsend was the son of Luke and Charity Townsend, the only African American family in Putnam County in 1860. Many African American families had left the county as a result of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act which threatened to re-enslave northern blacks. On January 4th, 1864, Townsend enlisted as a private in Company D, 28th U.S. Colored Troops, and the only black regiment in Indiana. Townsend fell ill shortly after enlisting, returned to Greencastle and was discharged on August 8th, 1864. He applied for a pension in September 1864 but died shortly afterwards on May 28th, 1865.
White soldiers who were willing to become officers in black regiments could rise through the leadership ranks more quickly than if they joined white regiments. Ransom Hawley of Putnamville inquires in this letter (part 2) as well as this letter about the possibility of being recommended for a post with the Colored Regiment in Indianapolis in two letters to a former teacher.
Col. John R. Osborn, a distinguished Putnam County citizen, let a Union Army regiment at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. In April 1861 Osborn returned to Greencastle after a twenty-five year absence with the intention of starting his law practice, but after the outbreak of Civil War he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 31st Regiment of Indiana Volunteers. After the Battle of Shiloh, Osborn was promoted to Colonel of the 31st Regiment and served in that capacity until the end of the war. After the war, Osborn would serve as Greencastle Postmaster for eight years. He died on June 11th, 1887, and is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.
Col John R. Mahan commanded the Asbury Guards when they departed from Greencastle, served as colonel of two regiments and a bridge commander for another. Mahan was an influential advisor to Indiana Governor Oliver Morton. Col. Mahan was President of the Putnam County Soldiers' Monument Association which erected a Civil War monument in Forest Hill Cemetery.