The summer of 1865 was filled with a mixture of emotions in Montgomery County. There was jubilance for the war ending, sadness for the lost, and confusion for the future. But above all was an excitement and praise for the return of local soldiers. The Crawfordsville Weekly Journal promoted a, “GRAND NATIONAL PICNIC, to be held at the courthouse on the fourth of July to give a warm and welcome greeting to the scarred and war-worn veterans.” Another poem was claimed, “Prolific seeds drop in the mellowed ground, The sword-blade rusts, and blades of corn uprear.” This was true all over Montgomery county as farm boys returned to work in the fields.
Economically, Indiana drastically changed as a whole since 1865. Prior to this year, New Albany was the most populated and largest city in the state due to its trade with the South. However, after Confederate surrender economic activity and industry transferred from Indianapolis and north through the state. Crawfordsville acted as a crucial crossroads for this time of economic boom and new roads and railroad tracks were laid through the town. The Crawfordsville Weekly Journal relayed in June of 1865 that, “Considerable business was transferred and the final steps agreed upon to make the construction of the road from Indianapolis to Danville, Illinois a fixed fact.” The end of the war and Northern victory in 1865 brought considerable transportation, commercial, and overall economic development to Crawfordsville in 1865.
Most of Montgomery County’s native leaders were active in their duties elsewhere in 1865. Henry S. Lane was still in Washington DC representing the state in senate. General Lew Wallace was also in the area of the capital taking part in trials for the Lincoln conspirators as well as the Confederate commandant of Andersonville prison. In the spring of 1865, General Edward Canby oversaw and conducted the Union campaign against Confederate forces at Mobile, Alabama and accepted the surrender of rebel forces west of the Mississippi River.
Without a doubt, 1865 was a major turning point in American and Montgomery County history. Local families were celebrating the return of their war veterans, and others were mourning the loss of theirs. It was a year filled with social, political, and economic changes for our local community. Though one thing is for sure, that we would not be where we are today without the impact of the events that transcended time 150 years ago.