Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, President Lincoln made an immediate call for 75,000 volunteer troops. There was no selective service system at that time, although a plan of drafting soldiers was used in the latter stages of that war.

Civil War regiments were often recruited on a county or congressional district basis. When a group of men set out to recruit a regiment, they were naturally eager to see that their county or district responded well. Also, a man who did a good job recruiting might be in a good position to secure a higher military or civilian office. This kind of situation led to considerable rivalry, especially where there was overlapping territory. Sometimes money payments (called "bounties") were offered to prospective recruits if they would join certain regiments.

In the spring of 1862 recruitment was going slow in Indiana. The enthusiasm which had greeted Lincoln's first call for troops had waned, and the realization that the war might last for several years caused the men to be more cautious about volunteering. In his "Memories of War Times," Gen. Reub. Williams relates an interesting local incident which shows the recruitment rivalry between the 12th and the 74th Indiana regiments at that time.

The 12th Indiana Regiment, which was composed mostly of Kosciusko county men, had originally been organized in 1861 as a one year regiment. At the time that it came up for reorganization in 1862, another regiment, the 74th, was being organized in our congressional district.

Williams states that during this period of rivalry he had rounded up 14 recruits for the 12th regiment and was housing them at the Wright House in Warsaw. Then he heard that the county commissioners, eager to have our county well represented in the district regiment, would soon be meeting at the Court House and would probably offer a special bounty to those who joined the 74th. As the Wright House was just across the street from the County House, Williams knew that his recruits would soon hear of the bounty offer.

He states that there was only one course open to him -- he "hustled his men off to Indianapolis immediately."

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Feb. 2, 1954