Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Conner Prairie's Civil War Exhibit
1863 Civil War Journey; Raid on Indiana

by Alpha Garrett

June 01, 2011

A leader in transforming the way museums approach guest encounters, Conner Prairie’s incredible one-of-a-kind new outdoor experience, 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana, utilizes interpretive technologies and techniques to immerse guests in a pivotal moment during the only Civil War battle on Indiana’s soil. Through live action, theatrical wizardry, including video, sound, staging, hands-on experiences and actors dressed in authentic period costumes, guests will be drawn into the true story of General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry raid on Indiana and its impact on families and communities.

The experience is based on the events of July 8, 1863 when Hoosier militia companies and civilian volunteers rallied to defend Indiana from 2,400 invading Confederate soldiers under the command of Gen. John Hunt Morgan. After Hoosier forces were defeated by Rebel Raiders at the Battle of Corydon on July 9, an estimated 60,000 volunteers responded to Gov. Morton’s call to muster in Indianapolis. Morgan’s advance north was blocked near Vernon two days later as some of those volunteers arrived in southern Indiana from the state capital by railroad. By falling trees across roads and through armed resistance, Indiana volunteers and pursuing Union cavalry chased the Confederates into Ohio. Morgan and his troops were eventually defeated and captured by Union troops in eastern Ohio.

Through a combination of personal letters, journals, news articles, and additional historical materials, three main characters emerged; Attia Porter (teenage girl), Albert Cheatham (former slave), and Gen. John Hunt Morgan (Confederate). Each story is portrayed with a unique perspective of the raid as guests become immersed in the battle and the effects it had on Southern Indiana.

1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana will serve an intergenerational audience and will encourage self-led exploration. It includes the inventive and interactive River Crossing Play Area for Conner Prairie’s youngest guests to explore the past. Using the history park’s extensive research and content knowledge about the Civil War as a base, there are different key experiences that will be both fun as well as educational for kids ages 2 to 10. Activities include a large climbable steamboat, water cannons in a splash park-style area, try-on Civil War-era clothing, an indoor “barrack-type” climbing structure and small pretend soldier’s tents complete with a “campfire.”

Marking this year’s 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, this experience integrates the many factors in why Conner Prairie is a family favorite. President and CEO Ellen M. Rosenthal, comments, “Recognized as one of the leading and innovative living history museums in the nation, we constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways to connect and engage with our guests. This is our first experience that will fully combine the artistry and magic of technology with the authenticity and warmth of our first-person interpretation.”