At Home: Stan Hurt’s Man Cave
Conner Prairie’s resident Civil War expert boasts the collectibles to prove it.
Fifteen years ago, Stan Hurt stood in the valleys of Gettysburg during his first reenactment experience, watching as the Civil War, by which he was fascinated as a boy, came to life. Hurt was hooked, and reenacting turned into more than just a weekend pastime. While most Civil War hobbyists study the uniforms and weapons, Hurt began collecting them. “When I look at these things,” he says, “it connects me with history and reminds me of [the soldiers’] devotion to their cause.”
Civil War Slouch Hat
Originally worn by the Army of the West, this style was adopted by civilians after
the war ended.
As a proud Navy veteran, Hurt exhibits a naval lieutenant’s attire from the late 1800s. His eclectic variety of uniforms spans the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and the Seminole War.
“When Alan Nolan, a local Civil War author, passed away in 2008, his widow gave me this from his collection.”
Many collectors buy through an expert in the field. Hurt’s shop of choice is The Gentleman Soldier in Noblesville. “I got these figurines as a gift from the owner, Duane Arnold, for being a good—and frequent—buyer.”
What do you do with an expensive Civil War cannon? Donate it. Hurt bought the cannon shown in this photo and later gave it to Conner Prairie for its annual Civil War Days, when he serves as part of the reenactors’ unit of Eli Lilly’s 18th Indiana Battery.
Hurt’s interest in the Civil War began when he learned that a distant relative was in the Union Army. “I inherited his rifle, his bayonet, his sword, and an ammunition case at only 8 years old. They were displayed in my room as a teenager.”
Hurt commemorates the 19th Indiana Volunteers by wearing this replica headpiece to his reenactments. “The unit was part of the Iron Brigade that saved the day early on at Gettysburg, but they got decimated in the process.” He notes that the men loathed this cowboy-esque style and often chucked it into the river.
“When Eli Lilly was 23 years old, he got so bored in the infantry division of the Union Army that he convinced Indiana’s governor to let him start the 18th Indiana Battery.” Lilly’s grandson later founded Conner Prairie.
Photo by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the March 2014 issue.