Conner Prairie Launches Groundbreaking Civil War Experience

"1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana" Represents "Next Generation" of American Museum Exhibit

FISHERS, Ind. (June 2, 2011) – Five years of research, planning, design and construction culminate this weekend as Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, Indiana’s only Smithsonian Affiliate, officially opens what is being described as the “next generation” of the American museum exhibit - 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana (“Civil War Journey”). 

According to Conner Prairie President and CEO, Ellen M. Rosenthal, “Civil War Journey is a vivid illustration of the transition from exhibit to experience. Whether one refers to it as ‘next generation’ or ‘Museum 3.0,’ Civil War Journey will truly immerse our guests in history. It is unconventional. It is evocative. And in terms of what museums traditionally have been and now are becoming, it is strikingly transformative.”

Civil War Journey, brought to life by nationally-renowned Bob Noll, Creative Director of Boston Productions Inc. (bpi), is the first experience to fully combine the artistry and magic of technology with the authenticity and warmth of characters. Images, video, sound, live characters and period-specific sets and buildings work in concert to create an unparalleled experience. Most importantly, the experience engages guests to become active participants.

The Setting
Civil War Journey takes place in a recreation of the southeastern Indiana town of Dupont. It chronicles the only Civil War battle fought on Indiana soil, triggered by the July 8, 1863 Ohio River crossing and subsequent capture of Corydon, Indiana by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his band of 2,400 cavalry. Morgan’s Raid left up to 15 dead and more than 40 wounded in Corydon before moving on to several other small Indiana towns including Dupont.

The Perspectives
Civil War Journey tells the story from three disparate viewpoints from characters that represent real people who experienced Morgan’s Raid. Its main characters are 16-year old Attia Porter, teenager Albert Cheatham, former slave, but now a free black man, and Confederate General John Hunt Morgan. The experience is based in large part on letters, journal entries, and other historical archives outlining the days and weeks before and after the raid. Civil War Journey conveys the terror and uncertainty that erupts when war arrives in one's hometown.

The Conflict
Upon arrival, visitors in the role of the volunteers recruited by the Governor to defend the state, step through Dupont’s covered bridge and find the town has been ransacked. Each visitor is then asked to defend Indiana against General Morgan and 2,400 Confederate raiders. From the Mayfield and Nichols Dry Goods Store and Mrs. Mayfield’s urgent pleas for help, to the family home of the Porters, now occupied as Union militia headquarters, visitors are swept up in the conflict along with the townspeople. Civil War Journey is an intense, self-led exploration through a town in chaos.

The Purpose
Civil War Journey uses technology for the purpose of allowing all participants, particularly families, to share a meaningful, emotionally-charged experience that is in many ways relevant to today. According to Ms. Rosenthal, “Every aspect of Civil War Journey is intended to foster conversation and curiosity about the Civil War and how people responded to it. In the process, it will create indelible family memories. Visitors from ages 8 to 80 will feel they have lived through a piece of the war and that they had to make the same choices about what to support and who to believe that Hoosiers had to make 150 years ago.”

Conner Prairie officials note the experience can be intense for those under the age of eight. With that in mind, Civil War Journey includes the River Crossing Play Area which features a large recreation of the Alice Dean, the Ohio River steamboat commandeered by Morgan’s Raiders. Within River Crossing kids ages 2-10 can climb, dress up in authentic Civil War-era costumes or splash around in the water table and water cannons.

Conner Prairie acknowledges the many donors and sponsors who have contributed to Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana’s $4.3 million capital campaign. The overwhelming support has made this one-of-a-kind experience possible for the community. There is a little more work to be done on the capital campaign and it is expected to be successfully completed within the next few months.

Grand Opening Week Activities
During the first weekend of the grand opening, Civil War Journey hours are extended on both Sat., June 4 and Sun., June 5 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. All other Conner Prairie experiences will be open during regular admission hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sat., June 4 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sun., June 5. Only the Civil War Journey area will remain open during the extended hours noted.

This weekend’s activities include cannon firings and a Q&A session with the 18th Indiana Light Artillery, rifle firing demonstrations, stories about the African-American regiment Albert Cheatam eventually joined - 28th U.S. Colored Troops- and visits with a member of the Soldiers Aid Society – an effort by folks on the Indiana home front to support troops in the field.

The following weekend, a special presentation and performance on Sat., June 11 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. by the 140-piece band, Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps, named Wyoming's Musical Ambassadors, will preview their competitive musical talents ahead of this summer's Drum Corps International World Championships.

Admission to Civil War Journey is included in the regular entry fees: $14/adults, $13/seniors 65+, $9/youth (ages 2-12), free for members and youth under 2. Call 317.776.6006 or visit for more information.

Download a pdf of this press release here.

For high-resolution, downloadable images of Conner Prairie’s 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana click here.


Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, created by Eli Lilly in 1934, is Indiana’s only Smithsonian Affiliate and a 2010 Institute of Museum and Library Services National medal award recipient. Families of today engage, explore and discover what it was like to live and play in Indiana’s past. Explore five themed historic areas on 200 beautiful, wooded acres including the newest exhibits, 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana and 1859 Balloon Voyage that takes guests 350 feet above the prairie in a tethered helium balloon. Every visit is a unique adventure that provides an authentic look into the history that shapes us today. Visit or call 317.776.6006 or 800.966.1836 for admission dates, hours and ticket prices. Connect with Conner Prairie on Facebook at, Flickr at, YouTube at and Twitter at

Media Contact: Alpha Garrett, Public Relations Manager  Office 317.214.4732   Cell 317.607.4483

1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana
Experience Photos

For high-resolution, downloadable images of Conner Prairie’s 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana click here.

1. Covered Bridge Entrance to 1863 Dupont, Indiana
Visitors begin their journey crossing the covered bridge where they are transported back to 1863 Dupont, Indiana. As visitors walk through the bridge, they hear the voices of Hoosiers in 1863, providing background and context for the adventure about to unfold.

2. Raided Warehouse
The burned warehouse represents how the Raiders took food and goods that could have supported Union troops in the field then burned the buildings as shown as part of Conner Prairie’s 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana experience.

3. Burned Depot
A burned Depot is the first clue that the Raiders have been through Dupont. The Raiders set the train depot on fire and destroyed the railroad tracks as part of Conner Prairie’s 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana experience.

4. Morgan’s Raid Strategy Interactive
In Conner Prairie’s 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana, Union soldiers have occupied the Porter family’s home. Visitors, as volunteer militia, practice the strategy they will use to thwart Morgan and his men via this interactive experience, which appears to be part of a dining room table covered with maps.

5. River Crossing Play Area
The River Crossing play area within Conner Prairie’s 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana provides an 1860’s themed play area for young children with water tables and a climbable steamboat.






1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana
Character Bios

For high-resolution, downloadable images of Conner Prairie’s 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana click here.

Conner Prairie’s newest project puts visitors in the middle of the most significant Civil War event that happened on Indiana soil. It will be conveyed through projected images and video along with theatrical sound and staging.

1. General John Hunt Morgan

In July 1863, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan led 2,400 battle-hardened troops on a raid into Indiana. How will Hoosiers respond to this threat? Conner Prairie visitors will find themselves facing down Morgan and his raiders as part of the new 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana experience. Pictured is John Hunt Morgan alongside the actor who portrays him.

2. Attia Porter

The letters written by 16-year-old Attia Porter of Corydon, Indiana provide insight to the lives of young southern Indiana residents at the time of General Morgan’s Confederate cavalry raid into the Hoosier state in July 1863. Visitors will encounter Attia’s true life story as they make their way through the new 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana experience. Pictured is Attia Porter alongside the actress who portrays her.

3. Albert Cheatham

Albert Cheatham fled from slavery for a free life in Indiana during the Civil War. The authentic story of Albert’s quest for freedom, and his desire to fight for that freedom, plays a significant role in Conner Prairie’s new 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana experience. Pictured is an actor portraying Albert Cheatham alongside an image of a young man of which Albert may have resembled.




1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana
Raid Timeline

July 2 Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and 2,400 men cross the Cumberland River and head north from Tennessee into Kentucky.
July 7 Advance companies of Morgan’s troops arrive in Brandenburg, Kentucky and capture two steamboats that will be used to cross the Ohio River.
July 8 Morgan’s force begins to cross the Ohio despite attempts to stop him by Indiana home guards and US Navy gunboats.
July 9 Battle of Corydon
Pursuing Federal cavalry, commanded by General Hobson, begin crossing the Ohio River in pursuit of Morgan.
July 10 Salem captured, depot burned and stores looted by Morgan’s men.
Lexington and Vienna captured and looted by the Rebels.
Hobson’s troops arrive at Salem.
Gov. Morton telegraphs militia leaders and calls on them to assemble in Indianapolis to defend the state against Morgan’s troops.
July 11 Vernon successfully defended by Indiana militia, citizens and a handful of soldiers.
Hoosier militia companies responding to Governor Morton’s call depart Indianapolis by train, under the command of General Lew Wallace, and arrive at Vernon.
Morgan’s troops burn railroad property and plunder stores and homes in Dupont and camp there for the evening.
July 12
Rebels depart Dupont.
Federal cavalry and mounted members of the 103rd Regiment Indiana Militia arrive at Dupont in pursuit of Morgan’s men.
July 13 Skirmish at the Whitewater River between Morgan’s men and Hobson’s pursuing force.
Confederates burn the bridge over the Whitewater River and escape into Ohio.
July 19 Half of Morgan’s forces are captured following the defeat of Confederate raiders at the Battle of Buffington Island in Ohio. Captured enlisted men are sent to Camp Morton in Indianapolis.
July 26 Morgan and his remaining troops are captured in eastern Ohio.

1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana

Raid Map

Illustration of General John Hunt Morgan’s raid route.

1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana
Visitor Flow Map

Illustration of recommended visitor flow for the 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana experience


1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana

Is the 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana a permanent experience?

This experience is located in an area that depicts a new time period approximately every 5 years. If demand warrants, the life of the experience can be extended. The timing of this experience coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Is there an additional fee to experience the 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana?

No. The cost is part of Conner Prairie’s daily general admission and is free to members. 2011 admission rates are $14 adults, $13 seniors (65+), $9 youth (ages 2-12), Free for members and youth under 2. Group admission (10 guests or more): $10.50 adults, $7 youth (ages 2-12).

Is 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana open year round?

No. It is open from June 4-October 30, 2011. It will reopen in following years (April – October) for the life of the experience. The water play area is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day each year, as well as other days as weather permits.

How much square footage does it cover?

The experience covers 8,880 square feet in an outdoor setting with more than 10 key buildings and supporting structures.

How many staff members does it take to manage the experience?

Four staffers work the experience – three characters and one experience facilitator in modern uniform.

What is the technology aspect to the project?

It will use projected images and video along with theatrical sound and staging, hands-on experiences and live action to bring the drama of Civil War Indiana to life.

How much is being spent to develop and construct this project?

1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana is being funded through a capital campaign and will cost a total of $4.3 million.

How old do you have to be to go through the experience?
The experience has something for every age and interest from the self-led journey about Morgan’s Raid on Indiana to a family play area designed for children ages 2 to 10, including an indoor climbing area and outdoor water play area.

How many people can the new experience accommodate?
The experience has many components and can accommodate approximately 1200-1500 people each day.

How long does it take to go through the entire experience?

The self-led journey about Morgan’s Raid on Indiana takes approximately 45-60 minutes. There are also several other self-directed experiences and total time depends on the guest’s desired pace. There may be a wait to enter certain areas on busy days.

Is the experience based on a true story?

Yes. It is based on the true story of how Hoosiers responded to Morgan’s 1863 raid into Indiana. Each of the main characters in the experience are based on real people who lived in Indiana during the Civil War when Morgan’s Raiders invaded the state.

How does this project fit the vision of Conner Prairie?
Guided by its mission to stimulate curiosity about the history of Indiana in ways that are interesting and unique, Conner Prairie is grounded in innovation and continuously evolving its outdoor and indoor experiences to engage guests of all ages and learning styles. Conner Prairie has supplemented the core of the existing experience by incorporating 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana as the second step in its strategic master plan. Conner Prairie opened 1859 Balloon Voyage the summer of 2009.

Is it handicap accessible?

Yes, the main experience components are handicap accessible.

1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana
Expert List for Media Interviews

Ellen M. Rosenthal, President & CEO, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

Rosenthal became President and CEO of Conner Prairie, Interactive History Park, Fishers, Indiana, in 2006. Prior to coming to Conner Prairie, Ellen worked at a variety of museums the past 30 years including the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, and the John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center. She earned her first master’s degree in Early American Culture from the H.F. DuPont Winterthur Program and her second master’s degree in public management at Carnegie Mellon University.

Cathy Ferree, Senior Director, Strategic Planning, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

Ferree is responsible for the development and implementation of 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana experience in addition to other initiatives. Prior to joining the Conner Prairie staff in 2008, she served as the Associate Vice President for Exhibits at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Cathy has also held positions with BBH Exhibits, Inc. in San Antonio, Texas. Her education includes a Masters in Public Affairs from Indiana University and training from the Museum Management Institute, The J. Paul Getty.

Dan Freas, Vice President, Guest Experience, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

Freas is responsible for the variety of experiences in which guests can explore Indiana’s past through hands-on activities and immersive adventures. Prior to joining the Conner Prairie staff in 1998, he served as director of Meadowcroft Museum of Rural Life, an outdoor museum administered by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh. Dan has also held positions with the North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Old Salem and the National Park Service.

John Elder, Guest Experience Manager, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

Elder has worked at Conner Prairie since 1998. In his current role as the manager for the 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana, utilizing his expertise to blend live first person interpretation, immersive environments and settings, and extensive technology to create compelling guest experiences. He holds a B.S. in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University.

Bob Noll, Creative Director, BPI

Noll has designed, directed and filmed a number of important productions for clients such as the Tampa Bay History Center, the Smithsonian Institution, the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum, the Hershey Story, and the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. Bob’s commitment is to truly engage an audience with an institution’s message. To achieve this goal, he uses a complete palette of media and technology mixed with a combination of experience and creative insight rarely found in our industry. He believes the contemporary visitor rightfully expects an experience unlike any other, so he continually challenges himself and the staff at BPI to surprise and delight the visitor in innovative and unexpected ways.

If you would like to set up an interview with any of the 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana experts, please contact Alpha Garrett, (office) 317.214.4732, (cell) 317.607.4483.