Monday, May 31, 2010


Alfred Bowers in the Civil War

Enlisting with many other men from his community, Alfred joined the Union Army of New York with other volunteers from Sullivan County in August 1862. He was around 24 or 25 years old.

The son of Levi and Sofia Bowers, Alfred was born in 1837. He had two half brothers, James and William, and two sisters, Clarissa and Louisa. It is not known if his brothers also enlisted in the war. He was a Private in Company C of the 143rd Regiment. Another private, Herman Bowers may or may not have been a relative.

Horace Greeley, a well known public figure, actively advanced anti- slavery opinions in his news paper the New York Tribune, while opposing secession of the Southern States from the Union. He was a supporter of Lincoln.

The history of Company C is detailed in a document kept by Ava, Alfred's grand daughter. It lists the men, including Alfred Bowers, a private, and officers in the company, and was written during the course of the War Between the States: "THIS Company was enlisted in Sullivan County, New York between the 6th and 22d of August 1862, and was organized at Fallsburgh, Aug. 28, 1862, With James C.French as Captain, Nathaniel C Clark as 1st, and Dwight Devine as 2d Lieutenants. It went into camp at Pleasant Pond, near Monticello, Sept. 1, 1862 and was mustered into the United States service October 8, 1862, by Lient. Crolley, 5th U.S. Infantry, as Company C, 143d New York Volunteer Infantry."

"THE Regiment left camp on the 10th of October, 1862, under Col.D.P. DeWitt, and reached Washington D. C. on the 16th. Remained at Camp Chase, Va. until the 19th. Moved .............on Hill where were brigaded with the 127th, 142d and 44th New York, and picketed and drilled.

" Feb. 12, moved camp to Cloud's Mills, Va. Ap. 15, 1863 shipped at Alexandria and reached Norfolk on the 17th, and Suffolk the 18th. Skirmished with Longstreet, Sunday, May 3. Sunday night the enemy withdrew. May 5th, embarked at Norfolk, and landed at West Point on the 7th. Re-embarked at midnight, May 31, landed and camped at Yorktown, June 1. Moved up the Peninsula, under Keyes, June 8th, camping at Williamsburg, Airy Plains, Roper's Church, Cumberland Landing, and reaching White House, June 27th. Marched back from White House July 8, and embarked at Yorktown on the 10th and by rail, from Washington DC., reached Frederick City, Md., July 12th. Joined the 11th Corps of the Army of the Potomac, at Funkstown, July 14th, on which night Lee re-crossed the Potomac at Williamsport. Same day marched to Williamsport, thence, via Berlin, Lovettsville, Upperville, Mounts -ville and New Baltimore, to Warrenton Junction, Va., arriving on the 25th. Picketed and patrolled from Bealton Station to Dumfries until Sept. 25th, when the Regiment took cars at Manassas, passing over the B. & O. R.R. and through Bellair Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, and reached Bridgeport, Ala, Sept. 31st. Scouted and picketed until Oct. 27th, when with the balance of Hooker's force, marched to Lookout Valley, and being attacked on the night of the 28th by Longstreet, drove him back to Lookout Mountain and "opened the cracker-road to Chattanooga,___!
" Nov. 22, moved to Chattanooga, and the next three days took part in the battles before Chattanooga. Nov. 26th, pursued the enemy to Ring Gold. Nov. 29th, marched via Cleveland, Athens, and London, to Louisville, near Knoxville, arriving Dec. 5th. Longstreet raised the siege of Knoxville the previous night, and on the 7th we returned, reaching our old camp in Lookout Valley on the 17th. During this time we marched 240 miles - in the words of General Sherman's congratulatory order: "Without tents, without rations, with insufficient clothing, almost without shoes, in mid-winter."

"Remained in winter quarters in Lookout Valley, until January 25, 1864; then moved to Bridgeport Alabama."

"Original strength: 8 officers, and 98 enlisted men - total 101. Lost by death, 18; by transfer to Invalid Corps, 4; by discharge, 14; by desertion, 8; by promotion, 1; by resignation, 2. Gained by promotion, 1. Present strength, 65."

Grant moved troops rapidly by rail, to various locations where they were most needed. Company C. was one of those moved across the country, and back, as described in the above history.

In 1861, the country had just over 30,000 miles of railroad tracks. Nearly three fourths of that was located in Union territory, both in the north and the west. Federal railways linked the Atlantic with the Mississippi Valley, and were used to move troops and supplies anywhere they were needed. This strategic rail network continued to be expanded. Tracks were laid, and engines and rolloing stock were built, including hospital cars.

The South was at a disadvantage because rails, locomotives and cars were built and repaired in the Northern states. Even though the Confederacy attempted to use its railway system as much as possible, its deteriorating equipment placed the Rebels at a disadvantage. Due to this and a lack of resources, the South made no new railways during the war, or if reinforced, was done so at the expense of equivalent track somewhere else. Often it bacame a war of attrition.

Because of the obvious military importance, railroads on both sides became military targets. Locomotives, bridges and tracks were destroyed in raids, and rails heated and twisted, to render them unusable to the enemy.

The battle at Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain, one of the locations where Alfred Bowers experienced action, is described in Great Battles of the Civil War, page 124, by John MacDonald.

People at home read the news papers anxiously hoping for news of the war and their loved ones who served, as letters were delivered from the military encampments irregularly. The New York Herald also contained news of the war and Ava kept two historic pages about the war. Accounts of the death of Lincoln were included on one.

This information was researched and written by Ruth Zachary©. The Soldier's Record came from the Ava Babcock collection, and was photographed and enhanced by Ruth Zachary©. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment