When the Civil War began in 1861 she was 23 years old and had been married for 5 years. Lydia and husband Alexander Hardiman farmed land in southwestern Indiana's Gibson County near the town of Princeton. Lydia's family headed by Henry and Lucretia Walden likely came to Indiana from Tennessee in the early 1840s when Lydia was a young girl. As free Black settlers they were members of a tight-knit community begun in the 1830s.
The Marker reads:
"The only restriction placed on them in passing through the city would be to keep in the ranks, and that they might shout and sing as they chose....the streets...were crowded with the colored population. Cheers, blessings, prayers and songs were heard on every side. Men and women crowded to shake hands...The white population remained within their houses, but curiosity led even them to peep through the blinds at the 'black Yankees.'"Little disorder occurred. Some pigs, geese, and chickens came to untimely ends...some of the white inhabitants complained that the colored troops insulted them which, when it is considered that they thought it an insult for a black man to address them without first removing his hat, was also to be expected."
Henry must have had compelling stories to tell the rest of his life. He lived to be about 83.
Alex Hardiman's Rhode Island regiment went to the Gulf of Mexico spending time in Texas and occupying Plaquemine, Louisiana to defend Union-held New Orleans. Their duty was less dramatic. An officer described the dangers as they built a fort:
"Though not comparing with the arduousness of field service, our duties were by no means slight. It must be remembered that we were in a semi-tropical country, where to an unacclimated person the climate was itself almost a deadly foe. The extreme heat produced a lethargy that was depressing in the extreme. In a few days of dry weather, the surface of the ground would be baked like a brick. Then would come most violent storms, converting the soil into a quagmire and covering it with water like a lake."
The real enemy there was disease but Alex survived, remaining in Louisiana in the first months of Reconstruction and returning to Rhode Island where he was mustered out in October. He came home to Lydia and three children; baby Paul had been born while he was gone.
The lives of Lydia and her mother Lucy while their husbands were fighting are not so easy to cipher out. Their husbands may have been motivated by the enlistment bonus as well as a desire to fight for slavery's end. Did the men receive a $100 bonus for enlisting? Did their pay go home to support their families while they were fighting?
With no paper trail we are left without answers. The next link to the families is Alex's pension records. He began to receive his war pension in May, 1887 and after his death Lydia got a widow's pension.See Lydia Hardiman's grave here: