Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Putnam, William H.

Rowe family

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The papers of the family of Squire Washington Rowe of Highland Township, Oakland County, Mich., contain letters and other papers of several family members who served in the Civil War.

Benjamin Nelson Rowe, son of Squire Rowe. Five letters (May 30-Dec. 25, 1865) describe his efforts to find a job in Washington in the aftermath of the Civil War. He eventually found work as a clerk in three different hospitals, which he describes in his letters: Lincoln General, Harewood, and the "Washington" Post. The letter of June 11, 1865, describes the trial of Lincoln's assassins. There is one charming description of Christmas at the Harewood Hospital, written on Christmas Day, 1865.

James Delos Rowe, son of Squire Rowe. He enlisted in Company C, 1st Michigan Cavalry, as sergeant, was wounded in action at Cold Harbor, Va., June 2, 1864, and again at Front Royal, Va., Aug. 16, 1864. He was a student at Kalamazoo College at the outbreak of the war, and he tells of the enthusiastic drilling and enlisting among the student body. His reminiscence of his life in 1861-1865, titled "Camp Tales of a Union Soldier," includes extracts from his letters and those of his brother-in-law Henry Putman. Rowe comments on the conduct of the war from a retrospective viewpoint, and writes of camp life, guard and picket duty, foraging, scouting, skirmishes and battles.

Josiah Lemuel Rowe, son of Squire Rowe. He enlisted in Company K, 2nd Michigan Infantry, May 10, 1861. One letter (Oct. 31, 1861) describes a visit to Mount Vernon. A letter (Dec. 10, 1861) from Robert P. Sinclair appoints Josiah second lieutenant in the 14th Michigan Infantry, provided he raises 25 men for the regiment. Josiah spent fourteen months of his army service in various Confederate prisons, and after the war was over did not remain in Michigan, but went West for his health.

Squire Washington Rowe. He was appointed captain in the 14th Michigan Infantry with the duty to raise a regiment, but his name and regiment do not appear in regimental rosters, so he seems not to have succeeded. Letters from Major F. Lockwood (Oct. 23, 1861), Charles W. Wadsworth (Nov. 15, 1861), G. Taylor (Nov. 25, 1861), and Robert W. Davis (Dec. 7, 1861) relate to the attempt to raise this regiment.

Spencer D. Lee, brother-in-law of Helen Rowe, wife of James Rowe, served in Company D and Company A, 1st Michigan Cavalry, from Sept. 1864 until June 1865. About 48 letters (Oct. 1864-June 1865), written as frequently as twice a week during some months, offer war news (the activity of Mosby's raiders, the fall of Richmond, Southern reaction to Lincoln's assassination, and Spencer's participation in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth) and his opinions of the soldier's life (elections in camp and his appreciation of a "box of goodies" from home).

William H. Putnam, brother of Helen Rowe, wife of James Rowe, served in Company C and Company H, 1st Michigan Cavalry. About 19 letters describe his experiences, including the battle of Gettysburg where he was taken prisoner. Beginning with the letter of Oct. 28, 1864, he describes his life as a civilian in Louisville, Ky.

William ----, a Confederate soldier, surname and regiment unknown. One letter, undated but probably 1864, written from "Camp near Liberty Mills" in Virginia. "I would be willing to live on short rations, till we thrash the Yankee nation."

This collection is available on microfilm for interlibrary loan.

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