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A Cabinet Of Curiosities from the Civil War In Indiana

A review by Kathleen Angelone, owner of Bookmama’s Bookstore in Indianapolis which first appeared in the city in Weekly View and Southside Voice in July and August.


Bet you thought you knew all about Indiana’s involvement in the Civil War.  A Cabinet Of Curiosities From The Civil War In Indiana: Important, Moving, and Sometimes Odd Stories of the Human Side of the War edited by Nancy Niblack Baxter is sure to introduce you to some new aspects of Indiana and the Civil War. Arranged in chronological order, the book has segments on Prelude to War, Mid War:  Raids and Routings, Mid-War:  The Cavalry and Artillery, Mid-War:  The Women and Children’s Conflict, Mid-War:  Mustering the Red Badge of Courage, Late in the War, Soon After the War, and After the Return:  Men of the Civil War.

Each chapter consists of short stories and pictures about interesting aspects of the war.  One tells how some soldiers determined that their chaplain really did like whiskey-even if he didn’t realize it.  Another tells of the Battle of Pogue’s Run.  Who knew that the Copperheads who tried to take over the state actually had a battle with the government troops by Pogue’s Run right here in Indianapolis?  Another battle I’d never heard of took place with Hoosier soldiers in Missouri at the Battle of the Hemp Bales.  There is a really sweet story about the dolls a soldier gave his daughters before he marched off never to be seen again.  The dolls can still be seen at the Indiana State Museum.  I also learned about Filibusters — not the Senators who speak ad nauseum.  Rather, these Filibusters were soldiers of Fortune who invaded Central American countries. They actually took over the government of Nicaragua in 1856. Their connection with the Civil War is that these soldiers of Fortune were fighting for the South—to gain more land in the Central American countries for extending slavery.   Another great segment tells the story of the birth of the Conn musical instrument business.

The charts, notes and illustrations add a great deal to the book.  There are period photographs of the characters along with images of flags, drums, maps and more.  The notes at the end of each chapter are actually interesting, consisting of much more than just a reference to a source.

This book is a fun read and will add significantly to libraries of Civil War Buffs and those who just like history in general.  The book is available at Bookmamas in Irvington in Indianapolis.

Or click back to the Website and order Cabinet of Curiosities