Vanderburgh County, Indiana, in the Mexican War
By Col. Charles C. Schreeder
Patricia Sides, archivist, Willard Library
Originally published in the Tri-State Packet, September and December, 2008.
Note: Col. Schreeder read this paper before the Southwestern Indiana Historical Society on February 10, 1927; it is now a part of the Society’s collection housed in the Willard Library Archives. A native of Berlin, Col. Schreeder accompanied his widowed mother to Evansville when she married Rev. Fred Weithaup, pastor of the German Evangelical Church, in 1853. Schreeder was a war veteran, newspaperman, and active in local politics. He died in January 1930.
President Polk called on Indiana for three regiments of volunteers at the outbreak of the war between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, and in ready response Governor Whitcomb issued, May 22, 1846, an appeal for volunteers, designating old Fort Clark between New Albany and Jeffersonville as the place of rendezvous. Nineteen days later thirty companies had been concentrated at Fort Clark, accepted and mustered into the service for a term of one year, while an overflow of twenty-two companies had reported from their home stations clamoring for acceptance.
This was a remarkable achievement, for at the time very unfavorable conditions prevailed in Indiana for raising, equipping and mobilizing troops. The martial spirit had been at lowest ebb, and when the call came for volunteers there was no organization of militia, no arms, no equipment, and apparently not a soldier in sight. The probability of the war and the necessity of preparing for it had dawned upon but few minds in the state. Besides, the state was almost hopelessly involved in debt, having been compelled to default payment of interest on its bonds. The necessity of rigid economy forbid [sic] expending state funds for raising and maintaining state militia. There was but one railroad in the state, and that ran only from Madison to Edinburg. There were no telegraphs and no daily papers, the press services being rendered through weekly issues, one or two to the county. All communication was by mail mostly carried by men on horseback and over bad roads, for there were but few improved highways.
In spite of all these handicaps the war news rapidly spread throughout the state, and everywhere was soon heard the war cry, “To arms! To arms!” It was as if by magic that the streets and highways soon filled with marching troops, fed by loyal women and aided by farmers who willingly volunteered their farm-wagons to speed them on their way to the place of rendezvous. Banks and individuals patriotically provided the Governor with funds, taking the chance of being reimbursed by the state or general government.
The thirty accepted companies were organized into the First, Second and Third Indiana volunteers, forming the Indiana brigade, which served one year, and then the government accepted the services of the Fourth and Fifth Indiana Volunteers, which served to the close of the war. Beside these five (continued next page)