Madison County Historical Society

Heroes for the Heroes

Civil War Soldiers Name Local Fraternal Posts for Their Leaders


Local Civil War soldiers had their own heroes.

An easy way to discover whom they esteemed is to read the titles of the Grand Army of the Republic posts instituted in the county.  The GAR was a fraternal organization, founded in the late 1860s, for the Civil War veterans.  It began as a social, supportive, philanthropic gathering but eventually became one of the first organized advocacy groups in American politics.

The GAR movement grew throughout the late 19th century until almost every community in the country had its own post.

Madison County had at least six posts, most named in honor of heroic officers.  In Anderson, the Maj. Isaac May Post 244 was one of the largest in the state, listing over 150 Civil War veterans as members.  These soldiers had good reason to remember and honor Maj. May.

Grave Never Found

May family members were residents of Anderson for years before the "War of Rebellion."  In the summer of 1861, 28-year-old Isaac was commissioned a captain in Co. A, 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, a regiment that became part of the famous "Iron Brigade."  He was promoted to major in February, 1862.

May was a student of military tactics, believing that the study of the art of war was the surest way of achieving success on the battlefield.

While he was a strict disciplinarian with his men, they considered him fair and liked him as a commander.  He showed them respect, and they saw him not only as a brave, faithful officer, but also as a friend.  May died of wounds received during the Battle of Brawner's Farm near Gainesville, Virginia, on August 28, 1862.  He was buried on location by two fellow soldiers who were themselves later killed in the same engagement. 

After  the war, the major's family and friends attempted to recover his body, but were unsuccessful.  No one at that point knew exactly where he had been laid to rest.  To this day, Isaac May is listed as buried in an unknown grave on the battlefield.

Pendleton's GAR Post was named in honor of Maj. Samuel Henry who was kidnapped and murdered by southern sympathizers.


Kidnapped, Killed

Also named for a local Civil War officer was the Samuel Henry Guards GAR Post 230 in Pendleton, Indiana.

Samuel Henry was in Greencastle attending DePauw's School of Law when the war started.

He enlisted in 1861 and began his military service as a 1st lieutenant.  He was quickly promoted to captain, and after helping to organize the 89th Indiana Infantry, he was elevated to major.  Henry and his 89th fought battles and skirmishes in the western theater of operations, on either side of the Mississippi River.

In Greenton, Missouri, on November 1, 1864, Maj. Henry was eating dinner with two fellow officers at a roadside inn when local guerrillas -- non-military, violent Confederate sympathizers -- took Henry hostage at gunpoint.  While his comrades escaped and raced for assistance, Henry was taken into a secluded wooded area.  There, without any means of escape or defense, Henry was shot, murdered in cold blood.  Eventually, his body was recovered and now lies at Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton.  He has both a traditional family headstone and a government military marker.

Surviving Heroic Effort

Sometimes Civil War heroes had the opportunity to be honored during their lives by soldiers they commanded.  Such was the case for Charles Doxey of Anderson, Indiana.

Charles was 20-years-old and working in an Anderson warehouse at the beginning of the conflict.  In July of 1861, he enlisted and was quickly given a commission as 1st sergeant.  Doxey rose in rank, and by June of 1862, he was captain of Co. K of the 16th Indiana Infantry Regiment.  In the next two years of the war, Doxey would achieve military successes and endure debilitating wounds.

During the Red River Campaign in Louisiana in March of 1864, Doxey was ordered to have his men attack a large camp of Confederates stationed at Munson's Hill.  His regiment surprised the southerners and captured 450 rebels and a battery of artillery.

In April at Sabine Crossroads, the captain, in addition to his own regiment, was given the 6th Missouri and a section of artillery to command.  He was then ordered to protect the right flank of the Union line.  His men held their position, repulsed a heavy attack by the Confederate cavalry, and continued to help defeat the Southern forces.

The following day was the Battle of Pleasant Hill.  In this engagement, Doxey was wounded twice.  First, shrapnel from an exploding shell ripped into his left knee.  Even though he was seriously wounded, he stayed on the field of battle, commanding and overseeing troop operations.  A little later, a rifle bullet slammed through his right cheek and tore into his mouth.  Doxey was carried by horse-drawn ambulance to the Mississippi River where he was loaded on a boat and taken to the hospital in New Orleans.

In his absence, Doxey's men followed his last orders and kept advancing against the Confederate line.  They eventually took many prisoners and even captured one of the enemy's flags.  His regiment won the battle, and in newspaper accounts detailing the conflict and his woulds, Doxey was named "the young hero of the Battle of Pleasant Hill."  However, more important than public praise was the special tribute Doxey's men gave him at the hospital.  They presented him with the captured Confederate flag "for his gallantry."

It took Charles many months to recover from his wounds and it was two years before he could speak again, so severe were the injuries to his mouth.  However, in spite of these difficulties, he continued to lead people.

Living in Anderson after the war, he became on of Indiana's most successful businessmen, managed the Doxey Hotel, and built the Grand Opera House, a state of the art landmark for its time.  In 1876, he was elected state senator for Delaware and Madison counties and beginning in 1883 served in teh United States House of Representatives. 

Charles Doxey is buried at West Maplewood Cemetery in Anderson.

By Melody Hull, President and Trustee of the Madison County Historical Society


Madison County Historical Society|15 West 11th Street, P. O. Box 696, Anderson, Indiana 46015-0696|(765)683-0052|