The Other Colonels of the 31st Indiana

This page contains short biographies of the other 3 Colonels of the 31st Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Charles Cruft was the first Colonel.  To view the tombstones of the Colonels visit the page: Tombstones of the Colonels of the Regiment.

Colonel John Osborn: 2nd Colonel of the Regiment

John Osborn was born in Maysville, Kentucky in the county of Mason in September 1809.    John served Indiana in the House of Representatives from 1839 to 1840.   During the Mexican War he was mustered into the U. S. Army  at New Albany, Indiana on June 20th, 1846 by Colonel Samuel Churchill as Captain of Company "C" of the 2nd Indiana Regiment from Clay County, Indiana.  He was wounded at the Battle of Buena Vista in the left knee.  John was mustered out of the service at New Orleans, Louisiana on June 23rd, 1847[1].  Later he served as the Clay county Auditor from 1850 to 1859.

On September 6th of 1861, he received a commission as Lieutenant Colonel of the 31st Indiana Volunteer Infantry. His residence at the time of his commission was Bowling Green, Indiana.  Many in the regiment believed John Osborn should have been the Colonel of the Regiment because he became acquainted with the men early on by being the acting Colonel and few knew anything about Colonel Charles Cruft.  Cruft who saw the dissatisfaction of his appointment made a speech asking that the Regiment allow him to be judged on his merits and qualifications, and that he would lead them to "immortal fame for deeds of bravery".[2]  During the regiment's first battle at Fort Donelson, Lieutenant Colonel John Osborn and several of the Regiment became separated from the Brigade and were not engaged for the rest of the day.  This caused several to doubt his capabilities to lead.  On March 13th, 1862, most of the officers of the Regiment from the Major and down to Captains who were present signed a letter requesting that John Osborn resign.  Despite this request, he stayed on and was promoted to Colonel after Charles Cruft was promoted to Brigadier General.  John's promotion to Colonel occurred July 17th, 1862.  John  resigned his Colonelcy a year later on July 14th 1863.

John Osborn was married to Emily McCorkle (b.Sept. 5, 1811, d. Oct. 10, 1884.  They had at least one known child, Caroline B. Osborn Miles (b. 1834 - d. 1909).  After the war John was appointed postmaster at Greencastle, IN to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of Edward R. Kercheval[3]. John passed away June 11th, 1887 at Greencastle, Indiana and was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Greencastle, Putnam county, Indiana.  No known photos exist of John Osborn.

[1]  Indiana in the Mexican War, by Oran Perry, Adjutant General, Indianapolis, 1 Aug 1908.
[2] John Day's 1st Civil War Memoir, "Three Years in the Army", February 1865.
[3] Evansville Journal, page 6, 14 May 1866.


Colonel John Thomas Smith: 3rd Colonel of the Regiment

Col. John T. Smith was born in Johnson county, Indiana, March 18,1831. He grew up to manhood on the farm, with no other educational advantages than those afforded by the common schools of his county. A few months before he was of age, he met with a serious accident while felling timber in the woods, the accident resulting in the breaking of his right leg near the knee, his right arm near the elbow, besides other serious injuries. This misfortune changed the whole course of his life. After his recovery he entered college at Franklin, Indiana attending a few terms then moved, in 1853, with his father to Greene county and engaged for a few years in teaching school. In the spring of 1860 he graduated from the law department of Asbury University after which he located at Bloomfield, IN, and engaged in the practice of law. He assisted in recruiting Company F, Thirty-first Indiana Infantry, at the breaking out of the late rebellion and was mustered into the service as First Lieutenant September 20, 1861. January 4 1862 he was commissioned Captain, December 5, 1862 was promoted Major, February 11, 1863 was made Lt. Col., July 15, 1863 he was promoted Col. of the regiment and was discharged from the service March 12, 1865. The Colonel was present with his command and participated in the battles of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Stone River and Chickamauga, he was on the Atlanta campaign and in nearly all the engagements connected with the fall of Atlanta, took part also in the battle of Jonesboro, Georgia, Pulaski, Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville, TN. He was popular with his officers and men and successful as a commander. On his return home, Col. Smith was elected Clerk of Greene County Circuit Court, serving five years. He is not rated as an office seeker, yet he has an even dozen commissions which have been issued to him by the different Governors of the State. The Colonel is a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church, possessing rare ability. He moved to Bowling Green in 1879, and served acceptably the Bowling Green Circuit one year. In 1854 he married Mary C. Armstrong. The couple have an interesting family of two boys and five girls.[4]

John T. Smith wrote the History of the 31st Indiana entitled "Thirty-First Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the War of the Rebellion".  Original copies can still be found and there are new copies of this book available at most book sellers.

John passed away February 28th, 1908 while visiting his son Charles, at Kingman, Indiana.  He is buried at the Fairview Cemetery, Clay, County in Bowling Green, Indiana.   

Photo of J. T. Smith: Author's Collection

[4] Source information from: The Brazil Democrat, December 1895, Brazil, IN, Louis Holtman, Publisher.

Colonel James R. Hallowell: 4th Colonel of the Regiment

James B. [R.] Hallowell was born December 27,1841, in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania. His ancestors were Quakers, and traceable to three brothers of the name who came to America with William Penn. When he was nine years old his father moved to Baltimore, and in 1896 the family moved to Greencastle, Ind. His school advantages were interrupted in various ways. He was mustered into company C, Eleventh Indiana zouaves, Col. Lew. Wallace commanding, April 17,1861. He was soon engaged in very strenuous duty, and while on a scout with a dozen or so companions had a desperate contest at close range with a number of the enemy, when he killed a Confederate captain named Ashby with the butt of his gun. In this twenty-seven of the enemy were killed, and young Hallowell received the highest commendation from his comrades and officers. His three months' term expired August 5,1861, and he immediately began recruiting for the Thirty-first Indiana. He was elected a second lieutenant. February 15,1862, he was severely wounded in the hip and arm, and was sent home. While on leave of absence he advertised to make a war speech in a schoolhouse in southern Indiana, and the anti-war men warned him not to do it. He responded that he would be there, and would kill the first copperhead that interrupted. He rose to the rank of colonel, and was mustered out after four years and nine months of dashing and brilliant service. In 1869 he was assistant secretary of the Indiana state senate. In May, 1869, he settled at Fort Scott, Kan., but in December of that year removed to Cherokee county. He aided in the organization of the town of Columbus. In 1871 he moved to Baxter Springs. November 28,1871, he was married to Semantha H. Montgomery, of Linden, Ind. He was elected to the lower house of the legislature in 1875, and to the state senate in 1876. In 1879 he was appointed United States district attorney for Kansas. In 1887 he moved to Wichita. In 1890 he was the Republican nominee for Congress in the seventh district, and was defeated by Jerry Simpson. He was known throughout the West by the soubriquet "Prince Hal.," and it was from the badinage of these competitors that the "Sockless Jerry" and the " silk stockings " joke of the first populist campaign became national. About 1895 Colonel Hallowell settled in Chicago. He died at Crawfordsville, Ind., June 24,1898[5].

James Hallowell was commissioned into the 31st Indiana as a 2nd Lieutenant of Company "I" on September 5th, 1861.  He received several promotions, to 1st Lieutenant and then Captain of Co. "I", Major, Lieutenant Colonel and eventually to full Colonel of the Regiment after John T. Smith resigned March 12, 1865.

He wrote several letters during the war to the Parke County Republican newspaper detailing some the 31st Indiana's camp life and battle action.  He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana.

Photo of J. R. Hallowell: from the book, "Thirty-First Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the War of the Rebellion" by John T. Smith, 1900.

[5] Source Information from: Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1901-1902, together with Addresses at Annual Meetings, Memorials and Miscellaneous Papers. Edited by George W. Martin, Volume VII.

This site was written by:
Dennis Hutchinson

I am interested in anything connected with the 31st Indiana Vol. Infantry, or if you have any questions please feel free to contact me by E-Mail.

I am especially interested in photos of soldiers from the 31st Indiana in their wartime clothing.  I am also interested in any letters, diaries, or biographical information on 31st Indiana soldiers

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Last Update April, 2019

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