Local folks rang in the New Year with parties, despite the war. Many hoped the war would have been done by that time. Every day, hope was looked for in southern dispatches and speeches.
While locals celebrated many of the city’s young men were engaged in battle at Stone's River near Murfreesboro (link). Several were lost in that prolonged battle, the second major battle in that area since June of 1862. Throughout the month local officers returned to Lafayette for health and healing. They brought with them lists of locals killed or wounded. Included in the list of dead were members of 35th Indiana (link), an Irish unit, commended for their bravery.
Fr. Kilroy, pastor to the city’s Catholics, mourned the loss of his brother in that unit, while the Balfe family rejoiced in the Lt. Balfe’s recovery at home.
Local families missing husbands and fathers, away in the military, struggled to make ends meet. The need was such that locals tried to help. A local pub gave out a free meal on certain nights, available to anyone. A local grocery donated 75 # bags to families of the military.
Word came that the iron-clad ship the Monitor (link) was lost in a storm of the eastern seaboard.
Conversations would have included news from Illinois that an entire Union company, save one unit, was charged with sedition. Many of the soldiers were members of the Knights of the Golden Circle. Citizens in Indiana were asked to fight against this group. The conspired to be captured by rebels in order to join them. Secessionists were found throughout the north, just as unionists were found throughout the south.
In addition to those who were sympathetic to the south, Union ranks also included a number of men who were cashiered. Lists of cashiered soldiers included the reason they were cashiered and were published in Midwestern papers.
Democrat secessionists in the Indiana legislature floated impeaching Gov. Morton. Cass county folks were circulating a petition against any war whose goal was to emancipate slaves.
Continued in part 2.