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WTCW Essential Books: Corydon

Yes, we are going obscure with this Essential Books post, and we are also going to mention books that are not essential so that you can avoid purchasing titles that are not worthy of the effort. With such a narrow focus on such a small and short battle, there are a limited amount of titles, especially good titles, on the engagement at Corydon, Indiana. Corydon is usually included in books about John H. Morgan's Indiana-Ohio Raid (or as I like to call it, the Not-So-Great Raid), but there are a few offerings that do focus on just Corydon or the Indiana portion of the raid.


Cahill, Lora Schmidt - The John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail in Indiana: A Tour Guide to the Indiana Portion of Morgan's Great Raid, July 8-13, 1863. K-Hill Publications, 2002. A detailed turn by turn guidebook for the entire raid route in Indiana supported by maps outlining the driving tour route. Each significant point includes a short historic description. Copies still might be obtained from Historic Hoosier Hills and are worth tracking down.


Conway, W. Fred - Corydon: the Forgotten Battle of the Civil War. Squire Boone Village, 1991. While this book is the only one specific to the battle, it covers the raid and other aspects such as tourist locations in Corydon, and it is one title to definitely avoid. The author makes the claim that Corydon and Gettysburg are the only two battles fought in a northern state during the war, although Buffington Island is a much larger battle than Corydon. Conway also follows the Lost Cause view of Morgan being "assassinated" in 1864 as opposed to the factual accounts that were written immediately following Morgan's death. No foot or endnotes are provided to support the author's statements so it is difficult to determine where the author procured his "facts."


Edwards, David G. - General Morgan's Artillery During His July 1863 Indiana-Ohio Raid. N.p., n.d. Mr. Edwards has self-published several small booklets related to various aspects of the Not-So-Great Raid, and many are worth picking up via the online book sellers. This booklet, just thirty-five pages in length, goes a long way to dispelling the myth that the Indiana Legion gun captured at Mauckport was an old six-pounder, and instead convincingly argues that it was a three inch ordnance rifle, the tube of which still exists on a West Virginia National Guard post. While this publication might be too deep of a dive for most readers, I would advise checking out Mr. Edwards's publications.


Etter, John P. - The Indiana Legion: A Civil War Militia. Hawthorne Publishing, 2006. This title goes a long way in helping our understanding the formation and history of the Indiana Legion. While the book covers the entire war, and there are a few common misinterpretations that the author perpetuates, this is one of the essential titles related to Corydon as it deals with the Legion as a whole.


Ewbank, Louis - Morgan's Raid in Indiana. Indiana Historical Society Publications, 1918. This small title can be found as a reprint on the various mainstream book outlets, and is useful due to its factual approach. No glorification, just seventy pages of text and notes.


Horwitz, Lester - The Longest Raid of the Civil War: Little-Known & Untold Stories of Morgan's Raid into Kentucky, Indiana & Ohio. Farmcourt Publishing, 2001. Author Horwitz broke new ground by examining the damage claims citizens filed after the raid which helped define the various routes that Morgan's men utilized. While the writing becomes repetitive, there is value in the effort. Between this and the following title, I would go with the latter for one book to cover the entire raid.


Mowery, David L. - Morgan's Great Raid: The Remarkable Expedition from Kentucky to Ohio. History Press, 2013. The current definitive account of the raid, and one profusely supported by maps. While the author has written a good account and is also a friend, the claim that the raid was a success overlooks the historical record of how the raid had little impact on Burnside's movements into east Tennessee (see William Marvel's exceptional biography on Burnside as an illustration that cavalry forces under Burnside and Rosecrans had linked prior to Chickamauga, and Burnside was hesitant to start any movement until Grant released the two IX Corps divisions back to Burnside). Regardless, this is a must have book for the raid.


Ramage, James A. - Rebel Raider: The Life of General John Hunt Morgan. The University Press of Kentucky, 1986. This is the single bio of Morgan that stands the test of nearly forty years since its publication. Fair and thorough, if you own one book on Morgan, this should be it.


Rockenback, Stephen I - War upon Our Border: Two Ohio Valley Communities Navigate the Civil War. University of Virginia Press, 2016. Admittedly this is a title I have recently picked up and have only made my way partially through, but it takes a deep look into two towns, Frankfort, Kentucky and Corydon, Indiana, and delves deeply into the social, economic, and political make ups of both. For a deeper understanding of the motivations of Harrison County citizens, this is worth purchasing.


Taylor, David L. - With Bowie Knives & Pistols: Morgan's Raid in Indiana. TaylorMade Write, 1993. The fact that the incorrect Confederate flag for Morgan's command is prominently shown on the cover is an indication that this is a local author's effort and one that falls a bit short. In some ways it is a similar effort to Conway's book above, but as it is a more recent title formatting and overall production value is of a slightly higher quality. Again, no footnotes or endnotes are included, and from the writing, much like Conway, the author overly glorifies Morgan's command.

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