May 9, 2009

Randolph County History

Randolph County and The War Between The States:
An Appreciation

by Jerry Hilgenberg

At the corner of Main and Washington in Winchester is the landmark "Soldiers and Sailors Monument" -- completed in 1890 and dedicated in 1892.  Most of us have walked, driven or ridden past this structure countless times without paying it much notice.  But as we grow older, there's a tendency to notice and appreciate things we may have overlooked before.  This monument, one of the finest examples of granite and bronze sculpture to be found anywhere, is one of the things I've noticed recently.

Ok, if there's one piece of trivia most everyone knows, it's that this particular monument was the first of its kind to be constructed in the state, and remains one of the highest Civil War monuments in Indiana.  Second or third highest, in fact, depending on your source.
But did you also know that this monument dedicated to the Civil War soldiers was initially funded by a pacifist?  It's true.  A Quaker gentleman named James Moorman bequeathed $2,000 to build the monument, and construction was approved by the county commissioners after a public referendum.

On the east face of the monument there's a plaque commemorating the generosity of Mr. Moorman, which reads as follows:

"James Moorman, a member of the Society of Friends, and conscientiously opposed to war, but recognizing the great value of the services of the Union soldier, to our country and to the cause of human liberty, by his last will and testament contributed two thousand dollars to the erection of this monument."

The plaque continues:  "In commemoration of the services and patriotism of the soldiers who fought and died, during the late rebellion, in defense of their country, the union of the states, and the rights of man, the Board of Commissioners of the County of Randolph, on petition of a majority of voters of said county, have erected this monument."
At this point, you may be doing a double-take.  Moorman?  Does that say Moorman??  I was thinking the same thing, so I contacted classmate Emojean Moorman Brindel and learned that James Moorman was actually her grandfather's uncle.  The Moorman family was one of the three original settling families of Randolph County, and James Moorman (as well as his brother, John - more about him in a subsequent installment) were direct descendents of this original clan.  At the time of his death, James Moorman, a banker, was one of the wealthiest men in Indiana, and the $2,000 he bequeathed to finance the monument was a substantial sum of money in those days.
Here's an additional piece of trivia.  The bronze sculptures on the monument were created by Chicago-based sculptor artist Lorado Taft.  Taft was one of the most distinguished sculpture artists of the day, and it's easy to find photos of his work on the internet.  He was 32 years old when the monument in Winchester was dedicated.  The Randolph County Historical Society has published a book (Randolph County, Indiana 1818-1990) that devotes several pages to the monument, and includes photos of the statues and frieze before they were sent out from the artist's studio for casting. Check out the detail on these sculptures: 
The photos on the right side represent the sculptures before they were sent out for casting, and on the left you can see the same sculpture as it appears today, over a century later (from a slightly different perspective).
The photo on the left is of one panel of the frieze and you can see clearly the three-dimensional detail and how beautifully it all comes through on the monument.  This section is in the photo above and can be seen just over the shoulder of the artillerist.
The photo on the right is of the sculptor, Lorado Taft, standing next to the statue of the flag bearer that rests on top of the monument.  This photo provides an impression of the scale of the monument.

Taft graduated from the University of Illinois, where his father was a Geology professor, and studied post-graduate in Paris.

He returned from Paris in 1886 and opened his studio in Chicago, so he'd been in his own studio for only a few years when he received this commission.

Civil war monuments were a prime source of work for sculptors in the last half of the nineteenth century, and Taft quickly earned a reputation for his battlefield monuments at Gettysburg and elsewhere, but his first major commission work was for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 - where he had two sculptures adorning the entrance to the horticultural building.
On the west side of the monument, we find this dark, non-cited quotation:

A search of the internet finds that this quotation was part of a book published in 1856 by H. H. Hawley of Utica, New York entitled:  Songs For Free Men:  A Collection of Campaign and Patriotic Songs For The People Adapted To Familiar And Popular Melodies And Designed To Promote The Cause Of "FREE SPEECH, FREE PRESS, FREE SOIL, FREE MEN, AND FREMONT".

Whew.  That title is sure a mouthful!

Here are the complete lyrics:

Address of Freemen of the North, to Freemen of Kansas by Key J. Pierpont
(From Warren's Address to The American Soldiers, before the Battle of Bunker Hill)

Stand!  The ground's your own, my braves,
Will ye give it up to slaves?
Will ye look for greener graves?

Hope ye mercy still?
What's the mercy ruffians feel?
Hear it in that battle peal!
Read it on yon bristling steel!

Ask it ye who will.

Fear ye foes who kill for hire
Will ye to your homes retire?
Look behind you! They're on fire,

And before you, see
Who have done it!  From the vale,
On they come! ...and will ye quail?
Leaden rain and iron hail,

Let their welcome be!

In the God of battle trust!
Die we may, and die we must;
But, oh!  Where can dust to dust

Be consigned so well,
As where Heaven its dews shall shed,
On the martyred patriot's bed,
And the rocks shall raise their head.

Of his deeds to tell?

Now, here's the most important information of all, and something that may really surprise you.  Randolph and the surrounding counties were home to one of the most celebrated Federal regiments of the Civil War!  The 19h Indiana Volunteers were part of the famous "Iron Brigade" of the First Corps of the Army of the Potomac.  The Iron Brigade participated in every major engagement from the start of the war.  They stood against North Carolina boys on the first day at Gettysburg and bought vital hours and field position while the rest of the army was coming up to the fight.

So - it's entirely fitting that a memorial of this importance should be located in Randolph County, because the service of Randolph County - and other boys from East Central Indiana - was unsurpassed in the Civil War.

Acknowledgements

Randolph County, Indiana - 1818 - 1990
by the Randolph County Historical Society - Turner Printing

Bancroft Library, Library of the University of California
Songs For Free Men:  A Collection of Campaign and Patriotic Songs For The People Adapted To Familiar And Popular Melodies And Designed To Promote The Cause Of "FREE SPEECH, FREE PRESS, FREE SOIL, FREE MEN, AND FREMONT", by H. H. Hawley