Moment of Indiana History

The McLaughlin Brothers

The American Civil War is often called the war that pitted brother against brother. This was literally true of one Indianapolis family. John McLaughlin commanded a company in the 47th Indiana Infantry. His brother Harry, who had moved to Alabama several years earlier, enlisted in the 35th Alabama infantry.

The brothers met in the Battle of Champion Hill (Miss.) on May 16, 1863. Following the conflict, John combed the battlefield for his brother, Harry. By chance, he found him and fulfilled his duty as a Union officer by taking his brother into custody as a Confederate prisoner of war.

Harry languished for 20 months in the Union prison at Johnson’s Island. He was released on January 29, 1865 through a pardon secured by his sister Susan from President Abraham Lincoln.

After the war Harry returned to his family in Alabama and John migrated to Topeka, Kansas where he became a gunsmith. It isn’t known whether the brothers ever met face to face again after their chance encounter on the battlefield.

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