Indiana in the Civil War – Cass County’s 46th Indiana Volunteers

Cass County’s illustrious 46th Indiana Volunteers carved out a place in northern Indiana lore for several reasons. It was the first regiment to occupy Camp Logan, which is marked with a monument later purchased by the regiment. The inscription reads, “Forty-sixth Indiana Volunteers Infantry, Organized and Encamped here from October to December, 1861”. A second reason was, of course, its stellar war record.

On September 20, 1861, authority was granted to raise and quarter a regiment at Logansport, Indiana. Immediately, several recruiting offices opened in the city as officers began to fill their companies. One of the companies was an Irish company. The recruiting site was at the store of Matthew Wilson, a true Irishman who boasted that the Irish company would use their “shelalas” and “pound the stuffins out of every rebel in the land”.

The large regiment being formed needed a campground on which to train and house the inexperienced soldiers. Camp Logan was created in a wooded grove on Barron’s Reserve. Many Logansport men worked to erect barracks, and the camp was ready by September 30, 1861. It quickly filled with Cass County boys, then those of neighboring counties.

The 46th, the pride of Logansport, could not go into battle without a flag, and a beautiful flag was purchased. It was made in Cincinnati and, unfortunately, the flag did not arrive until the regiment was actually at the depot, ready to depart for war. The presentation was made there, however, and suitable speeches were made. The flag was made of handsome silk with Forty-sixth Indiana Volunteers marked with silver cloth on the center stripe. The regiment’s color guard carried it proudly throughout the war.

Three months after the regiment was first formed, the 46th marched off to war. The farm boys had been drilled and instructed until they were a crack regiment of 1,000 men. Splendid in their new uniforms, arms, and newfound maturity, they stood at attention as the oath was administered by companies in the silence. Afterward, they marched through the vast crowd to the Wabash depot. Thousands of their families, neighbors, and supporters had come from miles around to wish them well in the difficult years that lay ahead. There must have been tears as mothers and sweethearts watched them leave; for many it would be the last time they saw their loved ones. It was a beautiful day, a fitting day for heroes to go to battle.

They were in active service for the remainder of the war. In March of 1862, the 46th traveled down the Mississippi River and was soon in the thick of battle. Attacks on New Madrid, Island No. 10, and Fort Pillow tested the men’s military skills.

By the 12th of April, 1863, they were in the rear of Vicksburg with General Grant. The great siege of Vicksburg was about to begin. They fought at Port Gibson, and then at Champion’s Hill where the 46th suffered severely, losing one-fourth of its men in vicious combat. The regiment was then in the trenches around Vicksburg for forty-four days, waiting for the inhabitants to starve out and surrender. The waiting game continued until July 4, when Southern General Pemberton asked for terms of surrender. Vicksburg was now in Union hands, and the Father of Waters was no longer a Southern supply highway.

The 46th was soon sent to Natchez and New Orleans where on March 4, 1864, they reenlisted as veterans. Their next battles took place at Sabine Cross Roads and at Mansfield on April 8, 1864, where 70 men of the 46th were captured and tortured for eight months in prison at Camp Ford and Camp Grace, Texas.

At last, the terrible war was over, and the 46th Indiana Volunteers could go home. They were mustered out in September 1865. 264 men never returned to their peaceful Indiana farms. 70 were killed or died of their wounds, and 194 died of disease. Many are buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery where a large, beautiful monument stands to honor the Cass County men who fought and died in the Civil War. None of these veterans ever forgot those years of war.

The 46th Indiana Volunteers made their county and their state proud. They were the first regiment to occupy the renowned Camp Logan, now marked by a monument purchased by the regiment after the war. Many of their battles became the stuff of legend: Champion’s Hill, Vicksburg, and Sabine Cross Roads, and 70 of their men suffered for months in Texas prison camps. 264 of Cass County’s finest never made it home from the brutal Civil War.

Mildred K. Pearson

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