Nov. 21 – JEFFERSONVILLE – Carl Kramer was a freshman at Silver Creek High School when the Civil War turned a hundred years old, and it piqued his curiosity about Indiana’s role in the conflict.
Over 60 years later, what began as a teenage interest has fueled the publication of Kramer’s latest book, Indiana Generals of the Civil War.
A local author, historian, and founder of Kramer Associates, Kramer spent a few hours in libraries and bookstores in the 1960s. He sought information and connections to Hoosiers fighting during the War Between the States, eventually concentrating on generals.
Kramer learned that “General” was a complex title. There were brevet generals, state generals, and full generals, and such appointments during the Civil War period did not always reflect military service.
While Kramer focused his career elsewhere, his love of Civil War history was never far from him. In fact, his collection was never far away as it was kept in a green filing cabinet in his office.
Kramer had wanted to write about Indiana generals for decades, and the box was full of reasons to do so.
“It was like a constant reminder of an undone task,” he said.
It was COVID that made him finally write the book. He said as the pandemic has slowed, it has become harder to ignore the green file box. His research and diligence paid off in the completion of Indiana Generals of the Civil War. The book was released in November and is available from major retailers such as Amazon.
Kramer writes about 121 generals in the book. Forty-four full Union, one Confederate, 62 brevet and 14 civil service generals are represented in the work, including some from southern Indiana.
“The Civil War was a young man’s war, and so were the generals,” Kramer said.
Most of the men in the book were in their twenties or early thirties when they became generals. Some were senior, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Others were brevet generals, who received the title as an honor rather than receiving full pay or rank.
Kramer writes in his book about several generals in the civil service. They served in the Indiana Legion and oversaw the local militia.
“These were local troops tasked with defending the state line, rounding up Copperheads, and in some cases suppressing newspapers that had anti-war sentiments,” Kramer said.
“They were deeply involved in the pursuit of Morgan’s Raiders in the summer of 1863.”
To be inducted, with few exceptions, the generals had to either be Indiana natives or have spent significant time in the state. There are some unique records of generals who were importantly associated with Indiana, even if they weren’t from or lived in the state of Hoosier.
Although generals commonly led their soldiers from the front lines during this period, only one Indiana general died in the Civil War. Pleasant A. Hackleman was a Franklin County union general. He was shot and eventually died during a fight in Mississippi. He’s known for saying, “I’m dying, but I’m dying for my country.”
Probably the most famous General Kramer cover is Ambrose Burnside. He was a Union general primarily associated with Rhode Island, where he served as governor, but Burnside was born in Indiana.
Indiana’s generals had political connections, many being lawyers before or after the war. Some went on to hold public office, from judges to members of Congress.
There were some outliers, but most Indiana generals were deemed worthy of their positions.
“While we have people who haven’t proven as great, most of Indiana’s generals served with honor and with some measure of distinction,” Kramer said.
Kramer plans to announce a few signing dates in the coming months. Indiana Generals of the Civil War is $23.99 plus tax.