The Bowen family of Washington County Maine made the ultimate sacrifice in the Civil War. Father William and three of his sons signed up to fight for the Union and none returned home [more here]. Back in 2001 or so, cousin Jeanne O’Shea had given me loads of information about William and family and because I lived near where William died, she had hoped I could find his headstone.
I visited the Edson Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts and found that the book for 1862 had gone missing so the staff could not pinpoint his burial place. They suggested that perhaps he’d been buried in a small section of the cemetery that was fenced off from the main part as a number of Civil War-era graves were there. I walked that section and checked every headstone, no luck. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that perhaps we’d never find a headstone and there might not even be one to find in the first place.
Fast forward to two weeks ago…
An Ancestry.com user, Jane Mangum, put a comment on William on my tree with a Find-a-Grave ID number and sure enough, it’s the right William! Find-a-Grave user Rick Weaver had taken a picture of the headstone and created the memorial page for William back in 2011.
The headstone reads:
Wm. BOWEN 1 Batty 1 Battn. ME L.A.
Translated: William Bowen, 1st Battery, 1st Battalion, Maine Light Artillery.
It’s a good reminder to check those research dead-ends every once in a while, wonderful things are happening in the genealogical world, it’s amazing what’s being made available every day. Volunteers do a lot of the heavy lifting, Rick and Jane are perfect examples, look at their profiles on Find-a-Grave, how many thousands of pages they’ve created, it’s inspiring. Thank you very much to Rick and Jane for walking cemeteries and posting the pictures, it’s a lot of work and it is much appreciated. Also thank you to Jane for bringing the page to my attention!
In late 1864 into early 1865, the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery was stationed in New Bern, NC on garrison duty. Company M included 16-year-old James Lucey, my 2nd great-grandfather.
In the fall of 1864 there was an outbreak of yellow fever in New Bern. An epidemic which took the lives of many, including 23-year-old fellow private and Worcester, MA native Luther Webber.
Early in 1865, the 2nd Mass Heavy Artillery was called upon to join General Jacob Cox’s Provisional Corps that were to move towards Goldsboro, ultimately to join with Sherman’s army. Just south of Kinston, near Southwest Creek, they ran into Confederate forces under the command of Gen. Braxton Bragg.
Bragg’s men attacked the Union flanks and captured an entire regiment, the last mass capture of Union troops in the war. However, miscommunication allowed the Union army time for reinforcements to arrive and fortify its position. Bragg was forced to withdraw, thanks in no small part to the heavy artillery units that repelled the rebel attack.
In the span of three days, there were a total of 2,601 injured and killed, including several of James’ compatriots in Company M. Most are buried at the New Bern National Cemetery.
My wife and I recently had the opportunity to visit Kinston and New Bern, including the Wyse Fork Battlefield and the New Bern National Cemetery. We were celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary and continuing our tradition of visiting either a cemetery or a battlefield on our weekend away.
While Company M may have been involved in various skirmishes over the course of the war, the only documented battle is Wyse Fork. It’s always an exciting experience to walk where your ancestor walked but it’s surreal to visit a battlefield where your 16-year-old ancestor fought.
Today (1 October 2014) would be his 166th birthday.
In the New Bern National Cemetery, there are hundreds of Civil War era graves and several monuments, including one to honor the Massachusetts soldiers.
My 3rd great-grandfather James E. Lucey was very proud of his Civil War service. He joined the Grand Army of the Republic in Rochester, NH and participated in parades and other events, such as the one captured in this photo. The only details on the picture are “Rochester Common, G.A.R. 1928, Jim Lucey”
For more information about the Grand Army of the Republic, visit the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War website
A monument stands in the Petersburg National Battlefield near Colquitt’s Salient Trail. Today there are tall pine trees, a paved path and quiet. It’s hard to imagine that this exact spot was once an open field described as “a burning, seething, crashing, hissing hell”.
Lieutenant Horace H. Shaw used those words to describe the events of 18 June 1864, when the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment, some 900 men, were ordered to charge across 300 yards of open field to attack the Confederate breastworks near the tree line. Of the nine hundred, 632 were killed or wounded in the span of 10 minutes. The largest loss of life in a single action of any regiment in the war. In 1895, Horace Shaw organized funds to purchase the land and commission the monument [details here]. One of the survivors was my 1st cousin 4x removed George A Stanhope, older brother of Gilbert. George was 22 when he enlisted in 1862, his first child Emma had been born just a few months before. In November of 1864 he was promoted to Corporal and returned to Robbinston, Maine when he mustered out in June of 1865. He and his wife Susan (Laskey) had nine more children, I’ve only found seven of the ten so far: Emma, Sophronia, George Jr, John, Mary, Alice and Jessie. Susan died in 1912 and two years later George married Sophia Hatt. He died 24 May 1919 in Calais, Maine.
The more I read about what the men of the 1st Maine went through, the more I respect and appreciate the sacrifice made by the men and women in our military. I will certainly make every effort to observe Memorial Day more formally going forward, they deserve at least that.
If you are planning to visit this National Park, I’d highly recommend a visit to Civil War Hikes.
Original source for much information about the 1st Maine and the first 3 images:
Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 20-22 May 2014.
In 1862, Peter (my 3rd great-grand uncle) and Caroline (Davis) Stanhope had 5 sons of age to serve in the military. Curtis registered, but I can find no record of military service. Aaron and Lorenzo served in Infantry regiments (9th and 28th, respectively), George and Gilbert served in Company D of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery.
Fortunately they all survived the war, though not without some physical reminders. In 1890 Gilbert was documented suffering as from rheumatism and deafness, he was 44 years old.
Over a 30 day span, he would have participated in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Second Cold Harbor and Petersburg as well as a number of smaller skirmishes. During that short time, over 1100 of his comrades in the 1st Maine were killed or wounded [over 600 in just 10 minutes at Petersburg]. And the war wasn’t over, they fought for almost another year. The accounts [see Ch.9 A Burning, Seething, Crashing, Hissing Hell] of 18 June 1864 at Petersburg alone are horrifying, I can’t imagine how the survivors could ever shake the shadow of war.
Gilbert returned to Washington county after the war and married Charlotte Frost. He worked as a farm laborer and lumberman. They had seven children: Frank, Lillie, Jonas, Betsy Annie, Sadie, Isabel and Gilbert.
In 1885, the survivors of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery gathered in Portland, Maine. I’m not sure if Gilbert was there, I’d love to find a picture of him to compare with this one.
Gilbert died 17 June 1902 at age 56. According to his death record he broke his neck falling out of a wagon while intoxicated. A sad, unfortunate end to be sure.
Source for much information about the 1st Maine and the reunion image:
Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 12-14 May 2014.
May 19, 1864, was “a day long to be remembered by the 1st Maine Heavy,” wrote a member of the regiment, “as it was on this day that we received our baptism of fire and learned the stern duties of a soldier.”
With the Overland Campaign bleeding the Army of the Potomac dry, Ulysses S. Grant called for fresh blood. Among those answering the call were “heavy artillery” units from the defenses around Washington—including the 1st Maine Heavies, shipping south from Fort Sumner, located in what is now Bethesda, Maryland.
No sooner had they joined the army, though, than they found themselves embroiled in a hot fight.
After the The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment fought along with the rest of the Army of the Potomac in smaller battles at the North Anna river and Totopotomoy Creek. In early June they fought in the battle known as Second Cold Harbor, near Mechanicsville, VA. In Grant’s memoir he wrote “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made… no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.”
It was there that my 2nd great-grand uncle Frederick Stanhope received a gunshot wound. I’m not sure if the wound prevented him from fighting in any of the battles over the next year or so, but he did survive the war.
Frederick was about 17 when he enlisted 5 Jan 1864. He was mustered out 11 Sept 1865 and returned home to Robbinston, Washington County, Maine.
A little over a year later, he married Hannah McLaughlin and they had four children: Sarah, Laura, Lucy and Frederick Jr.
Frederick was the eldest son of Rodolphus and Charlotte (Leighton), one of 10 children. I’m related to him through his older sister Sarah (my 3rd great-grandmother) AND his younger brother Sewall (my 2nd great-grandfather).
He died in Dennysville, Maine of tuberculosis on 1 May 1898, at age 52.
George Hayward was a 33-year-old father of six when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. His youngest child, Anna Amelia [my 2nd great-grandmother], had turned two the week before he was mustered into Company K of the 18th Maine Infantry Regiment.
In 1912 the Lewiston Journal published a profile on George in which some stories were shared that I think offer some great perspective on the life of a new soldier in 1862. Thanks to David Colby Young, the family of the late Robert L. Taylor and the Androscoggin Historical Society for transcribing and permission to share from their transcription of the original.
When the companies arrived at Portland they found tents pitched and a good supply of provisions. Most of the officers had little knowledge of what a soldier’s duty was.
When the uniforms came the space between the bottom of the pant’s legs I and the tops of the new army shoes was often an illustration of the relation of 4 the northern and southern states at that time. Nothing could bring them together.
After a while the men began to look natural but it was a good thing that there were no looking glasses. The little army cap, issued and worn at that time, the men regarded as a joke and wore it in all forms except that of a soldier. The arms and equipments, included an unnecessary amount of leather straps and a cartridge box. These were put on in every conceivable manner at, first. But the men soon adjusted themselves to their harness… Aug 24th, Sunday, the regiment took the train for Washington.
Many of the men saw Boston for the first time.
Many of the survivors will remember the reception at the cooper shop in Philadelphia, a refreshing bath and delicious supper. They arrived in Washington about noon of the 27th and were quickly marched into a huge barrack rack, where they were served with a slice of bread, and a piece of boiled beef, with poor coffee to drink and no place to sit down.
That night they encamped with out tents on the side of a hill which had been washed by the, rain, leaving upon the surface stones about the size of a robin’s egg, which, of course made very restless beds.
After a year and nine months of garrison duty in Washington D.C., the 18th Infantry was converted into the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment and assigned to join Grant’s army in Virginia, near Spotsylvania for the Overland Campaign. Again from the Lewiston Journal transcription:
Soon the men of Co. K were in active warfare and in the first battle at Spottsylvania courtyard, Mr. Hayward was wounded. The old soldier’s eyes filled with tears as he told how with the last charge in his gun, he was shot by a rebel.
On the 19th of May, In the same battle where Samuel Collier was killed, George was injured. While prone a bullet struck him between his spine and right shoulder-blade and traveled down his back. The bullet was cut from his hip area. George spent the next year in various hospitals and was eventually discharged in May 1865. According to his pension application he suffered lingering issues due to his injury and collected $12 per month as a result.
George was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia 19 July 1829, the son of Stephen and Anna (Gould) Hayward. In 1850 he married Rachel Bridges Carter (1832-1919), the eldest daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Cox) Carter. One more quote from the Lewiston Journal tells how they met:
One day while going to Pembroke to do some haying, he came to a big mud puddle, and on the other side of it he saw a pretty young lady. He helped her over and they soon became good friends. The young lady was Rachel B. Carter of Pembroke. On Jan. 2, 1850 she became his wife.
They would go on to have 12 children, 44 grandchildren and 66 great-grandchildren [that I know of]. George died 2 Sep 1913 in Dennysville, Maine at 84 years old.
You may have heard of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment. The unit has the unfortunate distinction of having the most men killed and mortally wounded in battle of any Union regiment during the Civil War. Samuel Collier, the husband of my 2nd great-grand aunt Frances Ellen Bowen, was one of them.
Samuel was born in England around 1830 and married Frances in November of 1861. They lived in Perry, Maine and in August of 1862 when the Army came to enlist men in Washington County, he signed up. His was originally the 18th Maine Infantry unit and the men of Washington County were assigned to Company K.
For the next year and nine months, Company K served in defense of Washington D.C. in Batteries Cameron and Parrott and trained in Infantry and Heavy Artillery tactics. In April 1863, Frances gave birth to their son and named him after his father that he would never meet. Garrison duty in D.C. doesn’t sound like it was very exciting, they did a lot of practicing and drills, but never saw any actual combat. That was about to change.
In early May 1864 Grant’s Overland Campaign began and with it, the order for most of the regiments on guard duty in D.C. to join the battle. The 1st Maine joined Tyler’s Heavy Artillery Division. They met up with the main Army near Spotsylvania on May 18th and the next day had their baptism by fire.
Although the men of the 1st had been in service for some time, they were still “green”. When they were pressed into service near Harris’ farm to defend the right flank from Ewells’ attack, they fought in a more formal, by-the-book style, rather than the get on the ground/behind cover/in a foxhole – just survive – style that the veterans used. The veterans had learned that there is honor in living to fight another day.
So they stood, literally, in the open and fired at the enemy while being fired upon. As you can imagine, the results were devastating: 82 killed (including 6 officers), 394 wounded, 5 missing. Eventually the Union troops forced the retreat of Ewell’s men and ended the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. This was only the beginning for the 1st Maine, but that’s a story for another time.
For an excellent writeup of this unit, check out Andrew MacIsaac’s thesis “Here the Reaper was the Angel of Death: The First Maine Heavy Artillery During the Overland Campaign” posted here. Also see the National Park Service Regiment Details site.
On January 13th, 1864, just four days after he turned 18, Benjamin Franklin Bowen was mustered into Company H, First Regiment District of Columbia Cavalry. He traveled nearly 200 miles from his home in Perry to the capital, Augusta, Maine, perhaps with fellow recruits and Perry-ites Columbus Frost, William McPhail and James Garnett1.
The war had already had a terrible impact to Benjamin’s family. His older brother George Washington Bowen died in Sep 1863 far away from home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Patriarch William died in 1862 at Camp Chase in Lowell, Massachusetts, a mere 4 months after enlisting. The family couldn’t afford to bring either of them home for burial.
His brother John Quincy Adams Bowen enlisted in December of 1863 and his brother-in-law Samuel Collier was fighting with the 18th Maine Infantry. Neither would make it back from the war.
Benjamin’s regiment was initially formed in mid-1863 specifically to defend Washington D.C., but in January 1864 was pressed into service with Kautz’s Cavalry Division. In late June, General Grant sent Brigadier Generals Kautz and Wilson to destroy rail lines that were feeding supplies to the Confederate troops defending Petersburg. They had destroyed about 60 miles of rail lines when they came to Roanoke Station and the covered rail bridge over the Staunton River.
Confederate troops defending the bridge were outnumbered, but they had a heads up and rounded up every able-bodied man and child to defend the bridge. They dug in and on the afternoon of the 25th the Union forces advanced on the bridge. Benjamin’s unit attacked from the east and were repulsed. Fighting continued for hours, with the Confederates holding ground, keeping the bridge safe. Eventually, the unit that was chasing the Union troops caught up and attacked from the rear, forcing Wilson-Kautz to move on.
Benjamin was injured during the fight and died two days later, on June 27th. He is supposedly buried in Coyner Springs Cemetery, but I’ve been unable to confirm that. What I can confirm is that he, like his father and brothers, did not make it home.
 Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Appendix D. Pg. 935-944. Record of Recruits for First Regiment District of Columbia Cavalry. Original data: California State Library; Sacramento; Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine.
It was tempting to call this post Mustache Monday, because James’ mustache is phenomenal!
James enlisted 4 Dec 1863 for 3 years, at the time he was 16 years old (18 on the paperwork). He was the drummer boy for the Company M of the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery regiment. Company M was mustered into service on Christmas Eve, 1863. On 8 Jan 1864, under the command of Captain Jere A Greeley, they left for the regimental headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.
Co. M was in Norfolk and Portsmouth, VA until May 1864, then moved to New Bern, NC, Kinston, NC and Smithville, NC until Sept 1865 at which time they were sent home to Boston. At Gallups Island on 23 Sep 1865 they were mustered out. The regiment lost a total of 382 men, 363 to disease. There was a yellow fever epidemic in New Bern during the fall of 1864, which killed about 175 men.
From James’ military service and pension records (ordered from the National Archives), I’ve learned quite a bit. For example, Regimental Muster Rolls show some interesting details of what James was doing and/or breaking:
Jan & Feb 1865 – Lost or destroyed screw drive 23¢
Apr & May of 1865 – Picket and guard duty at Dove Station on Kinston + New Berne Railroad
July 1865 – Provide guard over prisoners Ft. Caswell, NC
From James Pension applications, there is a wealth of information. This is how I learned about his first wife, Mary Crotty, who, along with son James, died in childbirth in 1868. James and his family lived next door to the Crotty’s in Groveland, MA in the 1865 census. Mary’s brother Edward Crotty remained good friends with James, as he moved to Rochester, NH around the same time and was godfather to James’ daughter Cecelia.
The pension application also shows where James lived prior to enlistment (he listed Amesbury, which I’m not sure about but missed Andover.) It also lists all places lived since discharge and provides a physical description, 5’8″, 165 lbs, blue eyes, gray hair and a dark complexion.
James was very proud of his service to America and was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) for many years and participated in many parades and ceremonies in Rochester, NH. He also prominently displayed his honorable discharge papers and this beautiful “Soldiers Memorial”.
Bowen, James L. Massachusetts in the War, 1861-1865. Springfield, MA: Clark W. Bryan, 1889 pgs 731-733
Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. Vol. 2. Dayton, OH: Morningside, 1979 pg. 1241
At the start of the Civil War, William and Mary (Boynton) Bowen lived on their small farm in Perry, Maine with 10 children, including my 2nd great grandfather, Frederic Lowell Bowen (age 4). By the end of 1864, she has lost her husband, 3 sons and a son-in-law to the war effort. Her eldest son William Alonso had also died, but not in the war as far as is known.
In November 1861, William and son George Washington Bowen enlist with the Maine 1st Light Artillery Battery. They are initially stationed at Camp Chase, in Lowell, Massachusetts. In February 1862, George leaves with the unit for New Orleans but William, too sick to travel, remains in Lowell and dies on March 17th.
Lowell Daily Courier – Wed. Mar. 19, 1862
Death of the Last Occupant of Camp Chase.
When the soldiers evacuated Camp Chase, they left behind a man named William Bowen, who was confined to the hospital in consequence of an abscess. He died on Monday last. He was about forty-five years of age; it is understood he enlisted at Eastport, ME., and he leaves a family, and also parents probably in that vicinity. His body was buried by Mr. A.P. Lesure, undertaker, of this city, with whom his friends can communicate, should they wish to take any action in relation to the removal of his remains. Maine papers will confer a favor upon his relatives by publishing a notice of his death.
A cousin, Jeanne O’Shea, and I have tried to find where William was buried in Lowell, but the 1862 book is missing from the cemetery where they likely buried him. He is probably in the unmarked section as it’s doubtful that Mary had the money to bring his body home.
Son George dies in Baton Rouge, LA just 18 months later, on 14 Sep 1863 and is buried in Baton Rouge National Cemetery.
Son Benjamin Franklin Bowen enlists with the District of Columbia Cavalry on 13 Jan 1864 and dies 6 months later, on 27 Jun 1864, killed in a skirmish at Roanoke Station Virginia.
Son John Quincy Adams Bowen enlists with Company D, Maine 2nd Cavalry Regiment on 8 Dec 1863. John dies of tuberculosis 21 Oct 1864 in Barrancas, FL (near Pensacola).
Mary writes this letter to find out the details of John’s death:
Perry November 18th 1864
To the Adgedent generel
Dear Sir I have been informed by Copral James Gallegar of the Second Maine Cavalry Company D John M. Lincoln Captain that my son John Q.A. Bowen, a private in that Company Died on the 19th of October 1864 but of what Decise I have not been informed has his Death been reported to you or the Deceuse he died off please let me know it is the third Son I have lost in the army and I have lost a Husband and Son in law and I have one Son in Company E 17th Maine Reg Fort Preble Portland Maine, if you have the report of his Death please forward a Copy to me and you will oblige me I have never received any of their bountys as yet and my Husband has been Dead three years next March yours with respect
I’m not sure who the other son is that she mentions is in Company E, 17th Maine. She does have 2 other sons that could have been there, but they are not listed in the roster of the 17th. The son-in-law she mentions is Samuel Collier, husband of eldest daughter Frances Ellen. Samuel enlisted with Company K, 18th Maine Infantry on 21 Aug 1862. The 18th is an interesting story, they spent most of the war stationed around Washington DC, guarding the capitol. In January 1863 the regiment designation was changed to the First Maine Heavy Artillery. In the spring of 1864, they were called to the front lines for Grant’s push into Richmond and saw some of the worst casualties of the war over the next year.
Samuel died at Spottsylvania, VA 19 May 1864, the first day that his unit saw fighting. For an excellent writeup of this unit, check out Andrew MacIsaac’s history thesis “Here the Reaper was the Angel of Death: The First Maine Heavy Artillery During the Overland Campaign” posted here.
In 1866, Maine passed the “Pension Act” into law, which would pay the family of a veteran up to $8 per month. Mary immediately applies. “I have lost a husband and three sons in the War of 1861”she wrote. She had still not received the US widows pension she had applied for 22 Jun 1863. Her letter must have had some effect, as of 25 Jul 1866 she was receiving $8 per month plus $2 per month additional for each child listed (Silas M., Mary E., Frederick L., Lucy E., and Linnie W.)