News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 20, 2011

MAX JONES: Vigo County played active role in Civil War history

Max Jones
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — When the Tribune-Star set out to find a way to commemorate Vigo County’s unique role in Civil War history on the 150th anniversary of its beginning, I was concerned it might be difficult to find much information on the subject locally. Indiana wasn’t a hot-spot for war activity, and no major, singular link to the war, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, exists here.

It didn’t take long to discover that Terre Haute and Vigo County do have rich and interesting history related to the war. One conversation with county historian Mike McCormick did the trick.

Mike, whose knowledge of Vigo County history may be unmatched, recounted a number of key people, places and events that demonstrate just how involved the area was with wartime activities, even though the major battlefields were far away.

Tribune-Star readers will soon have the opportunity to learn about the county’s role in the Civil War. Mike is sharing his deep knowledge and research in a special section to be published in the Thursday, June 30, newspaper.

The 24-page tabloid section will feature an overview of the county’s historical Civil War roots, with an emphasis on the many military regiments and their local leaders. Mike was even able to provide us with a number of photographs for use with his narrative.

Perhaps the most famous Vigo County link to the Civil War was the existence of a Confederate prison in the area of town that’s now Fairbanks Park. There is an impressive monument in Woodlawn Cemetery that memorializes the 11 Confederate soldiers who died in captivity here.

One of my favorite stories from Mike, however, was how a local newspaper, the Terre Haute Journal, was attacked by Union supporters because of the belief the newspaper was sympathetic to the Confederate cause.

Mike has devoted an incredible amount of time and energy to this project. His efforts suffered a severe setback when a tree fell on his Edgewood Grove home during a thunderstorm late last month. Fortunately, his computer survived the damage to his home office, and he was able to continue his work, even while cleaning up his property and beginning restoration efforts on his house.

The June 30 special section commemorating Vigo County’s role in the Civil War won’t hold all of Mike McCormick’s research on the topic. Those stories that won’t fit will be presented later in a series of articles to be published in the newspaper.

I I I

In case you missed it, Jane Santucci, formerly a reporter for WTHI-TV, is now writing a freelance environmental column for the Tribune-Star. Her first column appeared on Page E3 in Sunday’s Valley Life section.

Jane is a Florida native who came to the community a little more than three years ago for her television gig. She now works as communications director for the Sacopulos law firm in downtown Terre Haute.

Her column, “Your Green Valley,” will cover a variety of environmental issues and will appear bi-weekly. Look for her next column on Sunday, July 3.

  Max Jones can be reached at (812) 231-4336, or by email at max.jones@tribstar.com.