Battle of Corydon, Indiana - July 9, 1863

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NFB22

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The Battle of Corydon took place just south of the town of the same name in the state of Indiana on July 9, 1863 during Morgan's Raid. Morgan's raiders squared off against 400 or so state militia that made up the 6th Indiana Legion Regiment.

The battle took place when the regiment threw up a hasty defense south of town in the face of the oncoming Confederate troops. The Union troops built a barricade was between four and five feet high that stretched 2,500 feet. The 6th Regiment of the Indiana Legion was commanded by Col. Lewis Jordan. Maj. McGrain, was given command of the west wing. Capt. George Lahue, was in command of the east wing. The western wing was heavily wooded and the slope of the ground prevented the defenders or the attackers from seeing each other until they were within close range. The eastern wing of the works was in a mostly open field and afforded little natural cover to the attackers, while the defenders were protected from gunfire behind the barricade.

At 11:30 am the 3rd Regiment Kentucky Cavalry, the advance element of the Confederate forces under the command of Col. Adam "Stovepipe" Johnson, was sighted moving north along the Mauckport Road towards Corydon. Col. Johnson believed that the artillery could have quickly dispersed the four hundred farmers-turned-soldiers, but Morgan was worried about any delay because during the night Union forces had begun crossing the river in his rear. Morgan’s main body with the artillery was still en route, and he decided that the Legion should be engaged by the advance forces.
Corydon 1.png

By about noon, the Confederates had formed an attack line and were in position to advance on the works. Because of the forest on the west side of the Mauckport Road, a company of men dismounted and attacked the works head on and were repulsed three times. At the same time Morgan's forces also launched a flanking maneuver on the eastern wing of the defensive works. The initial flanking attempt was prevented because of the superior weapons held by the thirty Legion soldiers on that wing. Equipped with Henry rifles capable of firing fourteen rounds before reloading, they were able to keep the Confederates pinned down in the open field for about twenty minutes.

Shortly after the third repulse of the Confederates on the western wing, the 2nd Kentucky and 9th Tennessee regiments arrived from the Mauckport Road and joined the battle, giving the attackers a numerical superiority. At about 12:40 p.m., Capt. Byrnes arrived with the Confederate artillery and used his two ten-pound Parrott rifles to pin down the defenders in the works. In the meantime, Morgan was leading his main body of troops far around the eastern edge of the defenses and up the Plank Road, threatening the town directly and bypassing the defenses entirely. As they moved onto the Corydon Pike, they shot and robbed a toll gate keeper who refused to throw down his gun.

Using the cannons and one infantry battalion to prevent the defenders from maneuvering, Col. Richard Morgan, the general's brother, attempted to surround the Legion unit. With the artillery bearing down on the works, the 2nd Kentucky and 9th Tennessee began to flank the Union defense on the east and west sides respectively. Col. Lewis ordered a retreat to prevent his forces from being captured. With their superior numbers, the Confederates were able to move around both ends of the Legion's works and quickly turned the retreat into a rout. The battle lasted about one hour. As the Legion fled into the town, many threw their guns into a creek to prevent them from being captured by the enemy. About one hundred men attempted to escape by the Corydon Pike, unaware that the main Confederate force was advancing up it, and were captured.

A large part of the Legion force, including Col. Jordon, retreated into the downtown. On the western edge of the town, a company of Confederates seized the Legion’s commissary. Morgan took command of the heights south of the town and fired two warning shells from his artillery into Corydon. Col. Jordan realizing that continued resistance was useless, promptly surrendered the town. The Legion's cavalry and the infantrymen who had mounts were able to escape into the countryside, but almost all of the remaining infantry was captured.

Accounts vary as to the number of casualties, but the most reliable evidence suggests that Jordan lost four killed, ten to twelve wounded, and 355 captured—about 100 escaped. After the battle, Morgan counted eleven dead and forty wounded among the raiders, plus one killed while advancing on the town. Additionally, three civilians were killed. The Battle of Corydon still remains the last battle to be fought in the state of Indiana.

Today the Battle of Corydon Park stands on a portion of what was the western end the original battlefield. The park includes various historic markers, a cannon, and memorials to both Union and Confederate KIAs. It also has a period log cabin on the 5 acres that make up the park. Its a pretty neat little site if you're in the area or passing by to visit.

Corydon Battlefield.jpg


Sources:
http://www.battleofcorydon.org/index.html
http://www.harrisoncoparks.com/BOC.html
http://www.corydonbattlepark.com/battle.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Corydon
http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/in001.htm

The Longest Raid of the Civil War
By Lester V. Horwitz

Rebel Raider: The Life of Gen. John Hunt Morgan
By James A Ramage
 

JRJ

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Thanks for posting, as a native Hoosier, I find the information very fascinating.
Good thing the capitol moved to Indianapolis in 1825!

Oh for you none Hoosiers/uninformed :D, Corydon was the capitol of Indiana until 1825, when it moved to Indy.
 

JRJ

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(copied from battleofcorydon.org)

REPORT OF ADJUTANT E. C. CALDWELL,
5th Regiment Indiana Legion.

Headquarters 5th Reg’t. Ind. Legion,
Leavenworth, July 25th, 1863.

Laz. Noble, Adjutant General Indiana, Indianapolis, Ind.:
Sir:—In pursuance of your request, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Crawford county forces in the recent pursuit of the invaders of our own State, under Morgan. On the morning of the 8th inst., Captain G. W. Lyon, with one piece of ordnance, in connection with a small squad of infantry from this (Harrison) county, disputed the crossing of Morgan’s men at Brandenburg, the particulars of which are herewith furnished in a report made to me by Captain George W. Lyon; from which report you will see that our gun, gun-carriage and limber-box were lost; the limber and other fixtures were saved. The following is a description of the gun: “Caliber, 3-inch rifle; heavily stamped, ‘No. 422.’ ” The news of the repulse of our forces at Brandenburg, and the loss of our cannon, and the subsequent crossing of Morgan’s entire command, brought together at this point over 500 men; and we having learned that the rebels were marching on Corydon, started early on the morning of the 9th in that direction. Two hundred of our men, who were mounted under Captain Lamb, went in the direction of Mauckport, near where the rebels crossed over; the remaining force, in command of Captain N. N. Morgan and myself, took the road to Corydon. When within about 3 miles of Corydon, we were informed that the enemy had taken Corydon, and were moving in the direction of Leavenworth, by the road we were on. We at once selected the most available position, felled timber across the road, and placed ourselves in ambush, and prepared to receive them. We were, in a short time, joined by Captain Lamb’s command, who, having, learned that Morgan had gone to Corydon, and was marching in the direction of Leavenworth, abandoned his route, and came through to reinforce our command. We remained here for the night, resting on our arms. At daylight, we took up our line of march in the direction we started out, arriving at Corydon about 9, A. M. The enemy had gone in the direction of Salem. We awaited at Corydon the arrival of General Hobson’s forces, who arrived about 11, A. M., to whom we at once reported for duty. He ordered Our cavalry in his advance, and our infantry in the direction of Now Albany. We (the infantry) immediately started in the direction ordered. When within about one mile of Edwardsville, we were halted by Major Sabin’s pickets; and, having reported ourselves, were, by the Major, ordered to remain for the night, (it being then 1 o’clock at night,) outside of his lines. An alarm was sounded in about one-half hour from the time of our halting; and, in pursuance of orders, we resumed our march in the direction of New Albany, where we arrived about daylight. We reported to Major Fry, who ordered us to report to Colonel McCurdy, at Camp Noble, near New Albany, where we remained awaiting further orders until the 15th inst., when we were ordered to return to Leavenworth—the information having been received that a detached squad of the guerrillas were in that vicinity, committing their usual depredations. We were promptly furnished with transportation, by the river, and two pieces of artillery. We arrived at Leavenworth without accident; the men, however, were very much fatigued. The report of the guerrillas being in the vicinity was without foundation.
A most worthy citizen of our county, (Lieutenant Calvin Martin,) has since died, in consequence of disease contracted during the march.
Reports of the exact number, and names of the persons engaged, and the length of time served, and, also, as to subsistence, etc., furnished, will be forwarded as early as practicable.
Great praise is due, and should be given, to the citizens of this and all other counties through which we passed, for the kind treatment shown us, and their extraordinary efforts to render us comfortable.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your ob’t. serv’t,
ED. C. CALDWELL,
Adjutant 5th Reg’t. Indiana Legion.

P. S.—Our cavalry, under Captain Lamb, (above referred to,) followed in pursuit as far as Harrison, Ohio, where they were discharged by Colonel Dunham. This fact I omitted in my report above.
E. C. C.
 
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JRJ

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(Copied from battleofcorydon.org)
(Warning-Strong wordage regarding southerners :tongue: you have been warned)


Letter of Attia Porter
Corydon Ind.,
July 30/63

Dear Cousin
I was just studying the other day whose time it was to write mine or yours and could not come to any satisfactory conclusion, when your letter arrived and as a matter of course I was the debtor and I have since found out I owe you two letters instead of one. I received yours with the miniature three weeks ago, but never could manage to sit down and write. We have had rather exciting times in Indiana for the last few weeks, and have had a few of the miseries of the south pictured to us though in a small degree. On the doubly memorable ninth of July a visit was paid to the citizens of Corydon and vicinity by Morgan and his herd of horse thieves. We heard Tuesday night that they had crossed the river and had disgraced the soil of Indiana with their most unhallowed feet. Our home guards skirmished with the rebs from the river to Corydon and on one of the hills overlooking the town had a grand battle. The battleraged violently for thirty minutes, just think of it! And on account of the large number of the rebs we were forced to retire which our men did in good earnest every one seemed determined to get out of town first but which succeeded remains undecided to this day. After the general skedaddle, Col Jordan wisely put up the white flag—and we were prisoners to a horde of thieves and murderers. I don't want you to think I am making fun of our brave home guards for I am not in the least. But now, that all the danger is over, it is real funny to think how our men did run. Gen. Carrington awarded great praise to us and we all think that is something. What could 350 undrilled home guards and citizens do against 4,000 well drilled and disciplined soldiers (?) We did not even know Hobson was following him. We sent to New Albany time and again for help and not one man or gun did they send us. Though we have found out since that it was the fault of Gen. Boyle and not the people of New Albany. It made Morgan so mad to think a few home guards dared to fight his men. I am glad they done it just to spite him. However they captured most of the guards and paroled them and killed three of our men. Father was out fighting with his Henry rifle but they did not get him or his gun. One of Morgans spies was in town three or four weeks visiting his relatives and some of his men helped our men to build the entrenchments. I guess none of the rebels down south are that accommodating are they? One of our brave boys run three miles from the rebels, and really run himself to death. He stopped at a house and fainted and never came to. Dident he deserve a promotion? I think that was the awfullest day I ever passed in my life. The rebels reported around that they shot father because he would not surrender, but it was all a story. The rebs were pretty hard on the copperheads but they did not take a thing from us. The[y] kidnapped our little negro and kept him three weeks but he got away from them and is now at home safe. We killed six or eight of theirs and wounded twenty five or thirty. I expect you are tired of hearing about Morgan so I will stop. I forgot my letter till so late this morning, and I have not got time to write much more or I will be too late for the stage so Goodby.

Attia
 

donna

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A very nice post. We lived in Southern Indiana for fourteen years. We went to Corydon all the time. It is a wonderful little town. Been to the Battlefield site several times. Actually bought two of our cars at the Jeep dealer downtown. Loved the antique and craft shops.
 

NFB22

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A very nice post. We lived in Southern Indiana for fourteen years. We went to Corydon all the time. It is a wonderful little town. Been to the Battlefield site several times. Actually bought two of our cars at the Jeep dealer downtown. Loved the antique and craft shops.
Alot of history in around Corydon, New Albany, etc.. I love that area.
 
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NFB22

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THE INVASION OF INDIANA.
Eleven Rebel Regiments Said to be in the State
All Cavalry and Artillery
Gen. John Morgan in Command.
The Fight Near Leavenworth.
Five Home Guards Killed, Eight or Ten Wounded, and Fifty captured.
The Design of the Rebels.
Our reports of yesterday, of a formidable rebel invasion of Indiana, are fully confirmed. At 2 o’clock on the morning of the 8th the advance of the rebel force in command of Gen. John Morgan, reached Brandenburg, Ky., at which point the steamer McCombs of the Louisville and Henderson line soon after arrived, and was captured by the enemy. Soon after the Alice Dean came up, and she, also, was captured.
With these two boats the rebels at once commenced crossing into Indiana, and our information (derived from passengers captured on the McCombs and from citizens of Brandenburg, who succeeded in escaping and arrived here at an early hour this morning) is to the effect that eleven regiments, averaging five to six hundred men each, were yesterday crossed over into this State, and are now engaged in a raid, it is supposed, upon the railroads, with the object of cutting off communication between Louisville and Illinois and Indiana, and thus preventing the arrival of reinforcements from these States, to aid in the defense of Louisville now considered in imminent danger of an attack from a large rebel force under Buckner, said to be moving upon the city from the direction of Walker’s and Cumberland Gaps. We have further information n to the effect that Morgan has with him in this State nine pieces of artillery, and that he left four pieces and a considerable force of infantry at Brandenburg, supposed to be for the purpose of protecting his repassage [sic] of the river in case of necessary retreat.
When the news of this invasion reached Leavenworth and other towns on the Indiana side, the Home Guards at once rallied, and a detachment of near seventy men from Crawford and Harrison counties, with one six-pounder, attacked the enemy near Leavenworth, and after skirmishing for several hours were compelled to yield to superior numbers, and surrendered. In the skirmish four of the Home Guards are reported to have been killed, eight or ten wounded, and fifty captured.
The gunboat Springfield, as soon as she could be got ready, was sent down from this city, as also a number of men and a 12 pounder on another boat from Louisville. After considerable skirmishing, in which nothing was accomplished, the gunboat returned to this city, arriving here about 2 o’clock this morning.
The Star Grey Eagle, with a small force of infantry, and a section of a battery, went down yesterday afternoon. She exchanged a number of shots with the enemy, but, like the gunboat, was compelled to retire on account of the superior range of the enemy’s guns. It is said that two of the rebel guns planted in battery at Brandenburg, are rifled 20 and 30-pounder Parrotts, and the heaviest guns we yesterday had to oppose to them were 12-pounders.
Our readers will understand that we give the above information just as we received it, without at all vouching for its entire truth. No doubt there has been considerable exaggeration in reference to the numbers of the invaders. That there is a considerable rebel force in the State, however, we are compelled to believe.
LATER.
Since the above was written a courier has arrived in the city with news that the rebels moved from opposite Brandenburg last night, and that at 7 o’clock this morning two rebel regiments of cavalry and a battery of artillery were within four miles of Corydon, and that a large body of Home Guards were greatly retarding their movements.
Skirmishing was going on constantly, and a general engagement was expected to take place this afternoon. So far, since the Rebels commenced their movements, five of the Harrison county Home Guards have been killed: Lieut. James Cairnes, Jacob McFall, George Jones, Wm. Nance, and one other, whose name our informant did not remember.
The reported capture of the gun belonging to the Leavenworth Home Guards is contradicted. It is in possession of the Harrison county boys and is doing good service. There is a large Union force at and near Corydon, under command of Col. Jordan of the Legion, and entrenchments are being constructed by Col. J.
Quite a sharp skirmish is reported to have taken place yesterday evening two miles from the river, in the direction of Corydon, and it was in this skirmish that most of those above mentioned as being killed lost their lives.
We have the above information from Mr. McCollister, who came as a special courier from Leavenworth and Corydon, with dispatches for Maj. Fry. McC. Rode eighty-five miles in twenty-five hours, and got through without trouble after leaving Corydon. He informs us that but few of the Leavenworth Home Guards were captured yesterday morning in the skirmish near that town.
STILL LATER.
A dispatch received by special courier Headquarters in this city, dated Corydon 9 ½ o’clock this morning, says that “the rebels, in large force, number the not definitely known,” are advancing upon that town, and when the dispatch was penned, were but five or six miles distant.
They were held in check by the Home Guards, of whom there was a large force in the town and its immediate vicinity. The best of feeling prevailed among our men, and they were eager for a fight and confident of the result. Slight skirmishing had taken place on the front this morning, but with what casualties was not known.
(Source: New Albany Daily Ledger, July 9, 1863)
 

NFB22

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THE MORGAN RAID.
PROGRESS OF THE INVASION.
REBEL OUTRAGES ON CITIZENS
A Number of Murders Perpetrated.
THE FIGHT AT CORYDON.
PART OF THE HOME GUARDS CAPTURED.
Salem Captured and the Depot Burned.
BLUE RIVER BRIDGE BURNED.
FULL PARTICULARS SO FAR OBTAINED.
The particulars of the Morgan raid into this State come to us in a very contradictory shape, and it will be extremely difficult to give, in a perfectly succinct manner, a wholly reliable account in this issue of the Ledger.
All accounts agree that the total number of Morgan’s force in the State is between 4,200 and 4,800. As soon as they landed on our soil they commenced a system of plunder and outrage for which John Morgan’s name has already become infamous. At Mauckport the houses of citizens were entered and the furniture broken, bed clothing and carpets torn in tatters, clocks and mirrors smashed up, and a species of land piracy carried out which would have disgraced even the West India Buccaneers of the era of Lafitte. This we have from dozens of persons who have seen for themselves the desolation wrought, and witnessed the infernalism [sic] of the malice which seems to govern the great chief freebooter of the expedition.
These outrages, so far as we can learn, characterized their entire route from Mauckport to Corydon. They reached Corydon at 5 o’clock yesterday evening, and as we learn, without even demanding a surrender of the town, threw a number of shells into it, among helpless women and children. Along the road from Mauckport to Corydon nearly every house was rifled. Near Corydon a minister named Glenn, who owned the finest house in that section, fired upon the rebels. He was dragged into his house by his wife, who closed the door. The rebels burst open the door, wounded him through both thighs, set the house on fire, and left Glenn to perish in the flames. His wife, and other ladies in the house, dragged him out to an orchard, and thus saved him from being roasted alive. Near Mauckport they also killed Garrett Hunt, and just above the town they murdered William Frahee.
At Corydon all the stores and houses were rifled, and the wanton destruction of property seemed to be the great object of the raiders. When the town was captured five hundred of Colonel Jordan’s Home Guards were made prisoners, the balance of them escaping in the direction of Palmyra.
Near Corydon an old citizen, William Heth, fired upon the rebels. He was the keeper of the toll gate this side of Corydon. The rebels shot him dead and burned his house. They also burned a fine stone mill in the neighborhood of Corydon. Caleb Thomas of Edwardsville was killed near Corydon. He was shot through the forehead. Jeremiah Nance of Laconia, was also killed near Corydon.
From Corydon Morgan moved to Palmyra, Harrison county. Here, we learn, his men were allowed every license in the destruction of property, and many of the grossest outrages were perpetrated upon unoffending citizens.
Horse stealing is the order of the day with the raiders. We learn that they have already stolen from six to seven hundred head, all fine animals. At Corydon, Douglas, Denbo, & Co., and S. J. Wright were the principal sufferers financially—although all the merchants and mechanics suffered more or less from the robbers.
From Palmyra the route of Morgan was towards the railroad, by way of Greenville, in this county. At 8 o’clock this morning his scouts were four miles this side of Greenville and only eight miles from this city. Our latest reports would indicate that it is the design of the enemy to try to get out of the State at a point not very far above Jeffersonville. A considerable rebel force is reported at Westport, on the Kentucky side of the river, twelve miles below Madison, for the purpose of protecting Morgan’s crossing.
By dispatches received from an officer in command of a body of our troops between this city and Salem, we learn that the rebels have burned the depot and several other buildings at Salem, and torn up the railroad in a number of places.
A dispatch from Seymour to Cincinnati reports the town of Salem entirely destroyed. We do not credit the report.
The bridge across Blue river, at Farrabee’s Station, between this city and Salem, was burned about 10 o’clock this forenoon.
The rebels cut the telegraph between this city and Salem at an early hour this morning. Just before the wires were cut the operator at Salem telegraphed to this city that Morgan’s force had entered the town and he was for off for safer quarters. He took his instruments with him.
Morgan is moving in two columns on parallel roads, and has a most thorough system of scouts and spies. Our mown military authorities could profit by his example in this particular.
The very latest news received leaves no doubt that the rebels will try to recross [sic] the river into Kentucky at some point between Madison and Louisville. Preparations are complete to defeat him in this. He will not get out of the State with his forces, except as prisoners of war.
(Source: New Albany Daily Ledger, July 10, 1863)
 

richard

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For some reason I keep thinking that someone is making a movie about Morgan's raid. I know that the some of the counties have done a lot of work retraceing the route that took on his way to Ohio.
 
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NFB22

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For some reason I keep thinking that someone is making a movie about Morgan's raid. I know that the some of the counties have done a lot of work retraceing the route that took on his way to Ohio.
I would love to see a movie made about Morgan's Raid as long as it was well put together like Gettysburg and as long as it stuck to the facts.
 

JRJ

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I would love to see a movie made about Morgan's Raid as long as it was well put together like Gettysburg and as long as it stuck to the facts.
There was a movie made in 1956 called Friendly Persuasion about indiana Quakers during 1862, I have not seen it, but a quick google search found it for me haha.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049233/
 

donna

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I would love a movie about Morgan too but it must be factual and well done like you wrote.

The whole area of Southern Indiana is s great place to live and visit. We tried to see so much when we lived there. There is so much history and many wonderful parks. We miss it a lot. But this part of Northern Ky. and Ohio being right across the river has lots to see and lots of history. Actually, I think every place I have lived has been very special. Each place had its own history and wonderful places to visit. I always feel so fortunate to have lived in different states and enjoyed them for what they are. Each is different but a like in so many ways.

On the subject of the movie, "Friendly Persuasion". It is very good. They have had it on TV but you probably should get a DVD.
 
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Pvt.A.Wells

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Great information folks. Been to Brandenburg and drove through Corydon Wished I had stopped. But, plan on going there next year. That said, shouldn't this be listed in the Western Battles?
 

NFB22

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Just an update, I was in the vicinity recently and stopped over at the battlefield. The town of Corydon and the county have done and excellent job preserving this area and keeping up with the park.
 
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JRJ

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Just an update, I was in the vicinity recently and stopped over at the battlefield. The town of Corydon and the county have done and excellent job preserving this area and keeping up with the park.
As Indiana's largest claim to CW fame, we gotta grasp to what we got!
 
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CMWinkler

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In 1998 or 99, they did a reenactment that I attended. A good show. My Hoosier roots run very deep. Thanks for posting this a great read.
 
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