Chesterton Tribune

April 15, 1861, the day Porter County went to war

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One hundred fifty years ago this week a telegram arrived in Valparaiso that turned the world upside down. Traitors had fired on the Flag at Ft. Sumter.

For the people of that day it was their generation’s Sept., 11, 2001; Dec. 7, 1941 or April 18, 1775.

In his 1882 History of Porter County the Rev. Robert Beer of Valparaiso wrote, “On Sunday, April 14, the telegraph carried the news of the firing on Fort Sumter. On Monday afternoon, the 15th, the following call was issued for a meeting at the court house:

Americans !

Union Men ! Rally.

The war has begun. Fort Sumter has fallen !

Our flag has been insulted, fired upon and struck to traitors !

A Pelican and Rattlesnake banner floats in its stead !

Let it be torn down and the stars and stripes float in its place, or let us perish in the attempt. Davis, the traitor, says that next the Secession flag shall wave over the Capitol at Washington ! Shall it be so ? A thousand times No ! Then tonight let us rally at the court house, burying all party names, and come to the rescue of the Republic against its mortal enemies. We are beaten at Sumter, but not conquered, and must rally to preserve the inheritance left us by our fathers. Come one, come all who love their country! Tonight let us pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to the defense of the proudest flag that ever waved over a free people !


“The court house was crowded early. . . . On motion of R[obert] A. Cameron, M. D., editor of the [Valparaiso weekly] Republic, Dr. E. Jones was called to the chair, Messrs. E. R. Chapin and Alanson Finney chosen as Vice Presidents, and J. F. McCarthy, Esq., and J. A. Berry, editor of the Starke County Press, chosen as Secretaries.

“The meeting was addressed by Messrs. DeMotte, Cameron, Lytle, Jones, Rock, Pierce, Putnam and others, Democrats and Republicans, who, heretofore differing widely politically, were a unit on sustaining the Government, protecting the honor of our flag, and rebuking the thieves, murderers and traitors of the South.

“At the opening of the meeting, two American flags, emblems of our nation’s glory, were brought in and suspended over the stand occupied by the President and Vice Presidents, which were hailed with long, loud and enthusiastic raptures of delight by the large audience present, to which additional excitement was added by the presence of the Union Band, that discoursed a number of national airs, such as ‘ Hail Columbia,’ ‘Marseilles Hymn,’ etc.”

First Volunteers

“At the close of the meeting, an opportunity was given those who desired to register their names as volunteers, when a number of gentlemen came promptly forward, enrolled their names, expressing the sentiment that it was not for glory but to fight.”

Boycott Secessionists

On Thursday, April 18, a second meeting was held in the afternoon at the courthouse “to which the citizens came en mass, without distinction of party. .

“Among the resolutions adopted, was this: ‘That if it is found that there are Secessionists in our midst, we will not encourage violence and bloodshed at home, but we will withdraw from them our social relations, and if business men, we will not favor them with our patronage.’

More Volunteers; Election of Company Officers

“After the adjournment of the regular meeting, those who had signified their willingness to volunteer for the defense of the stars and stripes, whenever and wherever called, remained to organize and elect officers. The following were elected officers : R. A. Cameron, Captain ; Lieutenants — First, I[saac] C. B. Suman ; Second, G[ilbert] A. Pierce ; Third, 0. H. Ray ; Ensign, J. F. McCarthy, etc.”

“On Friday, the excitement was still unabated. Numbers enlisted, and the office of the Republic where the lists were opened, was crowded most of the day. In the evening another meeting was called at the court house, presided over by T. G. Lytle. Some 200 blankets were donated by the citizens for the use of the soldiers, and $40 were raised for the purchase of a flag for the company.

“On Saturday afternoon, the Union Band presented, through M. L. DeMotte, their beautiful flag, which had a short time before been presented to them by the ladies. Speeches were made in behalf of the company, by Cameron, McCarthy and Rev. S. C. Logan.

“On the Sabbath, a sermon was preached to the company by Rev. A. Gurney, and on that evening the company took the train for Indianapolis, many of the citizens accompanying them as far as Wanatah,” . . where the company changed trains to the Monon line and headed south.

“Arriving at Indianapolis, the company, which numbered 130, was divided and the [sur]plus, [the ‘Valparaiso Guards,’] joined with the [sur]plus of another company from Ft. Wayne, [to] form a new company under the command of Capt. Comparet.

In this company, J. F. McCarthy and O. H. Ray were Lieutenants.

On the 29th of May, the Ninth Regiment, Col. Milroy, in which the Valparaiso boys constituted Company H, left Camp Morton for Virginia.

“The first trial the boys had of actual conflict with the rebels was at Philippi, on the 3d of June, where all the Indiana regiments were engaged. The rebels were taken by surprise, and a large amount of arms, horses, etc., was captured.”

“The following [issue] of the Republic (April 25) was [printed] with the name of E. R. Beebe as associate editor, R. A. Cameron having gone to Indianapolis with his company, and the first editorial correspondence, dated at that place, appears.

“Henceforth, correspondence from the scene of active operations made up a large part of each issue. Letters poured in, not only from the editor, but from Gil Pierce . . .De Witt C. Hodsden, J. F. McCarthy and numerous others.”

After completing its three months service, the 9th Indiana reorganized as a three year regiment.

The first campaigns of the regiment laid the foundation for the new free state of West Virginia.

The 9th later saw hard fighting with Buell’s Army of the Ohio, Rosecran’s Army of the Cumberland and in Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. It was in 23 named engagements including Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

Republic Editor Cameron at the expiration of the three months was promoted to Lieut. Col. of the 19th Indiana then was transferred to the 34th Indiana, from which he was promoted Brigadier General following the Vicksburg campaign.

After the war he went west where he founded Greeley, Colorado.

The Republic newspaper published for two years without him and then went defunct.

Lieut. Isaac C. B. Suman re-entered the service as company Captain in the three year 9th Indiana.

He was promoted Lt. Colonel in August,1862, and in 1863 he took command of the regiment. He finished the war as Colonel.

He was mustered out with the honorary rank of Brigadier General, but declined to use the title.

After the war he served as Mayor of the newly incorporated City of Valparaiso eventually settling in Jackson Township in what is now known as Suman Valley.

Secession flag flies again over Ft. Sumter: National Parks service guide Nate Johnson talks to visitors under the First National Flag of the Confederacy over Fort Sumter National Monument, S.C. Thursday, April 14, 2011. One hundred and fifty years ago, U.S. Army Maj. Robert Anderson and his men formally surrendered the fort to Confederate troops following the first battle of the American Civil War. (AP Photo)



Posted 4/15/2011