Marking time

Area history buffs, INDOT officials restore
Civil War historical marker

Sign told story of Morgan’s Raid
that terrorized the area
for almost six days in 1863

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

DUPONT, Ind. (May 2007) – Sam Pettit is a civic-minded citizen who enjoys history. So he didn’t hesitate years ago when he saw a historical marker knocked over in front of Dean Ford’s Implements along Hwy. 7 in Dupont, Ind. He rescued the sign and put it back up.
Unfortunately, a few years later, Pettit found the same sign in a pile of garbage. Once again, Pettit knew someone had to take care of the historic marker, which commemorates the passage of Confederate Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his 2,000 cavalrymen as they raided the Indiana countryside during the Civil War.

Morgan's Raid Marker

Photo by Konnie McCollum

Local historians and INDOT employees
teamed up to erect a marker on Morgan’s
Raiders of 1863. They are (from left)
Phil Saxe, Jim Courter, Elbert Hinds,
Lee Rogers and Sam Pettit.

In April, eight years after Pettit first rescued the historical marker, several area historians and employees from the Indiana Department of Transportation gathered at a site in front of Dupont Elementary School to see the sign placed in a new and better spot.
The marker commemorates the invasion of Morgan and his band of Rebel horsemen into Indiana. For six days in July, 1863, the Confederate horsemen rode through southern Indiana raiding the countryside. Morgan’s Raiders brought chaos and terror into seven southeastern Indiana counties during the Civil War. That period, known as the Great Raid of 1863, was the only major military activity in Indiana during the war.
Throughout the raid, men spread out from the main column, pillaging as they rode. The inexperienced Indiana militia men were unable to stop Morgan and his men. It was at Vernon, Ind., where the raiders were turned back for the first time. The Home Guard, a group of 450 brave men, took a strong position overlooking the Muscatatuck River. Morgan turned southeast toward Dupont, burning bridges along the way. Morgan’s men encamped at Dupont for several hours one night, barely missing an engagement with a Union cavalry force of nearly 4,000 men by about five hours.
Eventually, Morgan was caught and imprisoned, but later escaped and was killed by a Union private in Sept. 1864.
Jim Courter, director of special projects for the Jefferson County Civil War Roundtable, said the marker was originally erected in 1963 to honor the centennial anniversary of the northern invasion of Morgan’s Raiders. Apparently, the first site proved to be a dangerous spot for the marker.
“It must have been hit by a car the first time,” said Pettit, 87, who didn’t have much trouble resetting the marker the first time. The second time, however, Pettit believes a tractor tire must have hit the sign because it sustained much worse damage. He said he took the sign to Clifty Engineering, where they generously donated their time to weld the post back onto the marker. Then, workers over at Madison Auto Body volunteered to paint the post.
When the sign was ready, he knew it couldn’t be put back in the same place. He realized he needed help, so he called a couple of friends, including former county historian Lee Rogers and historian Elbert Hinds.
“We figured if we put it back up in its original spot, it would just get knocked down again,” said Pettit.
Rogers said it somehow turned into his job to get the sign put back up. He had talked with Civil War Roundtable’s Gordon Whitney, who was trying to get the task finished. But Whitney fell ill and died before the job was completed.
Rogers then contacted Courter, who played a prominent role in getting other historical markers displayed throughout Jefferson County.
“I came in the middle of the story, and I just happened to know the right people, including some of the INDOT officials who could help,” Courter said.
It was Hinds who secured the spot in front of Dupont Elementary School. “I got a phone call about the marker, and I suggested the site might be safer,” he said. Once he got permission from school officials, plans got underway with INDOT to dig a hole and secure the marker.
INDOT’s Mike Rivers and Matt Bell were helpful in securing the site for the sign, and INDOT crewman Ronnie McCreary and Brent Wehner were on hand when the marker was placed in its final resting spot.
Courter acknowledged that Phil Saxe stored the sign in his garage until it was ready to be put up, so he should also be thanked for his help.

Back to May 2007 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta