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1861 Civil War

The Civil War was both a curse and a blessing for Madison. Many men from the area would volunteer for the Union and many would be lost. The farms were left to the women and children or lay unattended. Great sorrow would come to many families who would never again embrace loved ones and differing philosophies would tear families apart as sides were chosen.

In July of 1864 the town braced itself for an unfriendly visit from the raider, John Hunt Morgan. Volunteers and the home guard were mustered and prepared for battle but after a few tense days the town released a sigh of relief when it was learned Morgan had fled into Ohio and the town was once again safe.

On the other hand, the Union was preserved and slavery was abolished as a result of the war. While Madison had its southern sympathizers, it had also been, for the most part, a staunch supporter of the abolitionist movement and it was generally happy when President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation.

Some businesses prospered during the Civil War and Madison once again became a hub for shipping and railroad transportation, if only for a short time. Two ship building firms, The Dry Docks Company and The Madison Marine and Railways Company built and repaired many boats for the government during the war. The mills and factories once again hummed with activity as government contracts were met.

A large hospital complex was built just west of town to handle sick and wounded soldiers. The influx of soldiers and the need for supplies brought a mini boom to Madison.

The railroad was busy shuttling goods and people to and from the capitol once again. Madison was once again experiencing good times financially.

For nearly four years people anxiously scanned the newspaper looking in the death columns for familiar names and those of loved ones. There was great celebration when word of the surrender of the southern armies came but as quickly as joy had emerged, but it was soon tempered by the sad news of the assassination of President Lincoln. The town that had suffered so many losses of its own, now mourned once again for its fallen leader.

MJCPL: The Roll of Jefferson County, Indiana in the Civil War by George M. Young
MJCPL: Civil War Diary of William Watlington
MJCPL: The Longest Raid of the Civil War by Lester V. Horwitz
MJCPL: Historical Files
MJCPL: Newspapers on microfilm