News and Tribune

Floyd County

March 6, 2013

New Albany Bicentennial: The Civil War, part 1

(Continued)

NEW ALBANY —

In addition, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that some local merchants continued trading with the South during the war. History has shown this area already had strong economic ties to those states before hostilities commenced. An article on researchonline.net suggested other cities along the Ohio were aware that smuggling continued to occur from New Albanian shores. 

“The towns of New Albany and Jeffersonville were pressured by the Cincinnati Daily Gazette to stop trading with the South, especially with Louisville, as Kentucky’s proclaimed neutrality was perceived as Southern-leaning,” the article stated. “A fraudulent steamboat company was set up to go between Madison and Louisville, with its boat, the Masonic Gem, making regular trips to Confederate ports for trade.”

While Southern Indiana had varied opinions about the justifications for the split with the South, no fighting ever took place in New Albany. 

However, at the beginning of the conflict, the border cities were still alarmed at the prospect that Kentucky might join the Confederacy. Zipp found a Louisville newspaper clipping that went as far to say, despite which side the Bluegrass State decided to choose in the war, Louisville hoped to continue friendly relations with the towns in Southern Indiana. 

“One of the biggest concerns with New Albany was being right across the river from Louisville. Initially in the Civil War, Kentucky was neutral,” he said. “The fear was that if Kentucky went with the Confederacy, then the war would be right on our doorstep.” 

After Southern General Leonidas Polk occupied Columbus, Ky., in September 1861, Kentucky considered its neutrality under attack and voted to join the Union. Old Glory was raised over the Commonwealth only days later. 

Despite Kentucky’s allegiance to the North, New Albany wasn’t necessarily safe from enemy attacks. As in times before, the Ohio River provided some natural defense to the town. Patrolling gunships and other battlements also offered reinforcement. Zipp has read about purported monstrous cannons lining the river town’s shores, their cones aimed at Louisville, but he continues to question the news article’s validity. 

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