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New Albany Bicentennial

May 22, 2013

NEW ALBANY BICENTENNIAL: The Brandenburg Affair

(Continued)

NEW ALBANY —

Now it was time for Indiana to seek revenge for what they considered not only a kidnapping, but also an affront to every Hoosier. According to a 1921 article written by Charles H. Money for the Indiana Magazine of History, 25 New Albany men went to the courthouse where they “provided themselves” with weapons. 

“The whole city of New Albany and surrounding country was filled with indignation at the outrage which had been perpetrated upon a citizen of the commonwealth of Indiana,” Money said. “They immediately armed for his rescue.”

The next morning, Money said more than 75 protesters had found a ferry to take them across to Brandenburg so they could forcefully secure the release of Horace. Forty more armed fighters joined the company in Corydon for the assault.

When a portion of this group arrived in the Kentucky town, they found no Horace. Rumors of the armed group had spread rapidly throughout the area and the arrested Hoosier had been moved to another place. Still frightened of the angry mob, the town convened a special meeting. Representatives promised that Horace would immediately go to court and receive bail and that they would ask the governor of Kentucky to pardon the Bells of all their supposed crimes. Satisfied, the armed New Albanians left for home. 

Horace shortly after pled guilty and was released on bail. A time later he forfeited the bail and left for California. All charges of his brother and father’s incidents were removed from the docket. Oswald, however, was convicted and sentenced to five years in a Kentucky state jail for “stealing slaves.”  

Horace would return to Indiana for a brief time and go on to fight as a scout for the Union during the Civil War. Later he would return to California as a lawyer and journalist. His brother Charles also fought for the North but lost his life before Petersburg in 1864. 

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