It has been a 20-year labor that is coming to fruition for Northeast Indiana historian Margaret Hobson as she sees the publication of the second volume in a series of books on Indiana’s 44th Regiment from the U.S. Civil War. The first book, Iron Men of Indiana’s 44th Regiment: Biographies and Regimental Statistics, was published last year.
The second volume covers the formation of the regiment and uses letters from the men themselves to tell the story of the 44th. Hobson is working to publish the third book, which will cover the battles and provost duty, also told through the letters from the men, as soon as she can.
The 44th included Co. H, made up mainly by men from LaGrange County.
Hobson was doing historical research on her family 20 years ago and discovered ancestors who had served in the Civil War. “I had no idea they were in the Civil War,” Hobson said.
That discovery started her down the path of finding out more on not just her relatives, but the regiment that came from Northeast Indiana. Hobson researched through newspapers and followed up on leads from others. “There was lots of detective work,” Hobson said. The late Bob Yoder, an area Civil War historian, was one of those that got information to Hobson. “Bob gave me some photos I didn’t have and cemetery information,” she stated.
Others offered letters, diaries and other information.
The first book is a biography on each of the 2,000 men who served in the 44th and includes statistics, charts and graphs Hobson created from the information.
“The second book picks up where that one left off,” she explained. “It has more details on the officers and goes into the company information, as well as the organization of the regiment.” The book also includes photos of the men who served.
The book starts with Lincoln’s call and goes up until the unit’s first battle.
“What they went through, I had no idea,” Hobson said. She admitted to not really liking history at first. But the stories of the men, the regular soldiers, who did the fighting fascinated her. “What they endured and how they endured it with such grace,” she explained. “We owe such a debt of gratitude to them.” In a summary of the 44th, Hobson noted that the unit marched over 725 miles from August 20 through December 1, 1862, averaging 10 miles a day without tents or shelter.
As part of her research, Hobson traveled to the battle sites where the men from the 44th fought. “It was a religious experience,” she said of the visits. “When you go out on the field and walk where they walked… You can almost relive it.”
After the war, the remaining regiment soldiers returned home, including Dr. John H. Rerick, who was a surgeon for the regiment. Rerick would edit theLaGrange Standard for over 40 years following the war. As editor, he also made sure there was a lot of information on veterans and reunions in the paper. The regiment held reunions through 1934. “He was so faithful in supporting the regiment he cherished,” Hobson said. “He wrote about the men in their obituaries and he took care of them.”
Rerick would also write a regimental history in 1880, and Hobson noted how Rerick would never mention anything bad about others in his book. “Enough time has passed to let the facts come out,” she added. Her material includes information on court martials and other incidents.
Hobson is working on the third volume to get it published soon, and admitted she has enough information on the regiment following the war to possibly write a fourth book.
For now, volumes 1 and 2 are available directly from Hobson at CW44thindiana@aol.com or call 260-238-4645.