history buffs, INDOT officials restore
Civil War historical marker
told story of Morgans Raid
that terrorized the area
for almost six days in 1863
DUPONT, Ind. (May 2007) Sam Pettit is a civic-minded
citizen who enjoys history. So he didnt hesitate years ago when
he saw a historical marker knocked over in front of Dean Fords
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.
by Konnie McCollum
historians and INDOT employees
teamed up to erect a marker on Morgans
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. Morgans
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. Morgans 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 Morgans
Raiders. Apparently, the first site proved to be a dangerous spot for
It must have been hit by a car the first time, said Pettit,
87, who didnt 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 couldnt 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 Roundtables 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,
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.
INDOTs 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.