Back Home Again in Indiana

On July 27, 1861, the Indianapolis Journal reported the following about the return of the Eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry to their home state following their three-month tour of duty.  In those ninety days, my great-great grandfather L.K. Harris had experienced battle for the first time and received his first promotion–from private to corporal.  He must have been very proud that day.

Return of the Eighth Regiment

General William P. Benton, who first served as Colonel of the Eighth Indiana (three months)

About one o’clock yesterday afternoon the Eighth Regiment, Colonel Benton, returned to this city to be mustered out of service and paid off.  Like all the regiments before it, the men were formed immediately after their arrival and marched to the West Market House to get their dinner.  They dispatched their part of the ceremony of reception with a rapidity and earnestness strikingly suggestive of hard biscuits and rusty bacon during the past two months.  Dinner over, the regiment was marched down to the State House square, where they were welcomed home by William Wallace, of this city, in a felicitous and finely delivered speech, in which he spoke of the achievements of the Eighth Regiment and their share in wiping out the unjust blot put upon the state by Beuna Vista.  Mr. Wallace was frequently cheered by the troops.

Colonel Benton responded, expressing the thanks of the regiment for their welcome and reviewing rapidly the career of the regiment since it had left the state.  He alluded proudly to their flag presented by the ladies of this city and Terre Haute and said it was, by accident, the only flag at the battle of Rich Mountain, and to it all eyes were turned as the symbol of the cause for which they were perilling their lives.  He declared that their flag should never leave the field till that of the nation was respected and obeyed all over the country (loud cheers) and that he and his regiment would re-enlist for the war and stand by the flag until it was over.  Here he turned to the men and said, “Do I speak for you, men?”  A universal cry of “Yes,” and tremendous cheering was the answer, and a very satisfactory answer, too.

Colonel Silas Cogrove, who began his service as Lieutenant Colonel of the Eighth Indiana (three months)

After Colonel Benton had finished his remarks, Lieutenant Colonel Colgrove was called on but he laughingly replied that his only speech was “shoulder arms,” which the regiment obeyed and was proceeding to form, preparatory to marching out, when Mr. Wallace got the ear of Colonel Benton and the movement was stopped.  Mr. Wallace then announced that Governor Morton had earnestly desired to be present and welcome this regiment, as he had done all the others, but business of the army had absolutely compelled him to leave the city.  Cheers were given for the “gallant Eighth,” for “Governor Morton” and “Mrs. Morton;” and the regiment marched out of the square up Washington street to Meridian, and up that to the Circle, where they remained some time, waiting, we presume, for orders about their encampment.  The band, while they were in the Circle, played several patriotic airs very finely, better, we thought, than any band we have heard yet.

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