The Civil War was a singular seismic event whose effects rippled through every local community in the fledgling nation, and Daviess County was no different. On May 14, the Daviess County Museum hosts Monty Critchlow of the Civil War Roundtable for a program titled “Daviess County Soldiers of the Civil War,” detailing the lives, experiences, and impact of the 2,400 men who left their homes behind to face down the horror and chaos of the battlefield.
The program begins at 6 p.m. and is free to the public. The museum is located at 212 E. Main St. in Washington.
Though Daviess County was divided, as many were, about the purpose and conduct of the war, it still sent nearly 75% of its eligible men out to fight, one of only two counties in Indiana to fully meet all draft quotas set by Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton. Daviess Countians participated in most major engagements of the war, including Gettysburg, Antietam, Chickamauga, Chattanooga and the Vicksburg campaign.
The impact of the war also upended local economies and social organization, setting in motion even more changes in American life. “Eighty-one percent of the men who enlisted were farmers, forcing women and children into the planting and harvesting of crops,” Critchlow said. “The war built a movement not only of abolition of slavery but also suffrage for women, culminating in 1919 with the right to vote.”
Critchlow will also be discussing some of the significant individuals from Daviess County who participated in the war, including Pvt. Richard Taylor, awarded the Medal of Honor from President Lincoln for his battlefield heroics, and Cpt. Eli McCarty, a Union draft officer who was assassinated by Confederate sympathizers while seeking enlistees on the home front.
“Our country is built on its citizens knowing its history and appreciating what a remarkable economic and political system we have,” Critchlow said when speaking about the importance of understanding the Civil War in today’s world. “Even though there have been injustices and overreaches, we have the ability to correct them, unlike other systems of government. That underlying belief will help us all to solve problems in the future for the benefit of all.”
The Daviess County Museum can be reached at 812-257-0301 or on the web at daviesscountyhistory.com