BOWERS FAMILY PAPERS, 1861-1974 (bulk 1861)

Envelope to: Charles E. Bowers, 1861 Apr 26 

Vault A45, Bowers, Unit 1

EXTENT: .42 linear feet (1 container).


ORGANIZATION: Two series. I: Correspondence, 1861, and military documents (undated); II: Narratives and obituaries, 1926-1974.



Captain Charles Bowers (1812-1895) was born and died in Concord, Massachusetts. He married Lydia E. Hadlock on 13 March 1838 and they had three sons, including William and Charles E. Bowers, and five daughters, including Maria Augusta Hadlock Bowers (French). Captain Bowers was active in both temperance and anti-slavery causes. He served in the military from 1861 to 1865, the duration of the Civil War, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

William Bowers, the son of Captain Charles and Lydia Bowers, was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1840. He was apprenticed as a printer before entering the newspaper business, working for the Boston Post and then the Boston Herald in 1859. He was the night editor at the Boston Herald and was later promoted to day editor, becoming a prominent member of Boston’s newspaper community and a member of the Press Club. At the beginning of the Civil War he went out with the Fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia and was in the first battle of Bull Run. In 1867 William Bowers married Ellen F. Staples of Concord, the daughter of Sam Staples, who was legendary as the man who jailed Thoreau for non-payment of his poll tax.

Charles E. Bowers, the son of Captain Charles and Lydia Bowers, was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1844. He enlisted for military duty at the age of eighteen, serving for most of the duration of the war. Severely wounded at the Devil’s Den during the Battle of Gettysburg, he wrote an account of his experiences during the fight. He was later employed in the wholesale boot and shoe business.


Charles Bowers: 3rd Lieutenant, Company G, Fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, (This company, the Concord Artillery, was the first to go from [Concord] to the Civil War. Left Concord April 19, 1861 as Co. A; became Co. G on arrival at Washington; in the battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. Mustered out of the United States service July 21, 1861); Captain, Thirty-second Massachusetts Volunteers; mustered out 1 June 1865.

William Bowers: Private, Forty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, Company K, Fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia; discharged for disability Feb. 7, 1863.

C harles E. Bowers: 1st Sergeant and 2nd Lieutenant, Company B, Thirty-second Massachusetts Volunteers; wounded at Gettysburg July 2, 1863; 1st Lieutenant, 2nd Lieutenant, 26th New York Cavalry; 1st Lieutenant, Third Regiment of Cavalry, Massachusetts Volunteers (formerly Forty-first Massachusetts Volunteers); declined commission; discharged for disability 25 October 1864 as 2nd Lieutenant.

SCOPE AND CONTENT: Series I includes letters written in the earliest days of the Civil War from Captain Charles Bowers to his sons William Bowers and Charles E. Bowers. Captain Bowers was at that time a 3rd Lieutenant with the Fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, encamped at Washington, D.C. The letters contain narratives of military and camp life, troop movements, and personal observations. People mentioned include Colonel George Lincoln Prescott and President Abraham Lincoln; places include Harpers Ferry and Alexandria, Virginia. The last letter to William is dated 21 May 1861, just prior to his enlistment. There is one letter from William to his brother, Charles E., 4 July 1861. Series also includes an undated military roster and “Orders of the Day.” Series II includes Lieutenant Charles E. Bowers account of his participation in and being wounded during the Battle of Gettysburg at the Devil’s Den on 2 July 1863; Maria Augusta Hadlock Bowers French’s personal reminiscences (here in photocopied form) of growing up in the Concord, 1846-1864, include portraits of her family as well as her familiarity and acquaintance with the Emersons, Hawthornes, Alcotts, and other well-known Concordians. Reminiscences accompanied by two ALS, Augusta Hume to Marcia Moss, 28 August and 26 September 1974.  Obituaries for Captain Charles Bowers, William Bowers, and Charles E. Bowers provide biographical and anecdotal information about their lives.

SOURCE OF ACQUISITION: Series I : Source undiscovered; Series II : Maria Augusta Hadlock Bowers French materials given by her granddaughters, Dorothea Yust Smith and Augusta Hume, 1974.

NOTES / COMMENTS: Correspondence, roster, and “Orders of the Day” transferred from Letter File, former Letter File numbers B-7 to B-30; other materials transferred from genealogical files.

ASSOCIATED MATERIALS: Massachusetts Historical Society: Charles Bowers and Charles E. Bowers letters, 1835-1864; (bulk 1861-1863).


PROCESSED BY: C. Manoli-Skocay, December 2005; finding aid completed  December 2005.

Container List

Series I.  Correspondence, 1861, and military documents (undated):

Folder 1           Letters from Captain Charles Bowers to William Bowers and Charles E. Bowers (all 1861): 26 April, 29 April, 6 May, 9 May, 11 May, 15

May (2), 20 May, 21 May, 22 May.


Folder 2           Letters from Captain Charles Bowers to Charles E. Bowers (all 1861): 24 May (2), 16 June, 24 June, 25 June, 1 July, 5 July, 8 July, 11 July, 13 July, 14 July.

Folder 3           Military roster, 32nd Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers (undated); “Orders of the Day” (undated).


Series II.  Narratives and obituaries, 1926-1974:

Folder 4           Lieut. Charles E. Bowers, The Battle of Gettysburg, undated.

Folder 5           Maria Augusta Hadlock Bowers French, Letter to Grandchildren,

1926 (photocopy and typescript, 1974), accompanied by two ALS, Augusta Hume to Marcia Moss, 28 August and 26 September 1974; genealogy chart.


Folder 6           Photocopies of newspaper clippings (obituaries) related to Captain Charles Bowers, William Bowers, and Charles E. Bowers, 1893 and undated.



c2005 Concord Free Public Library, Concord, Mass.
Not to be reproduced in any form without permission of the Curator of Special Collections, Concord Free Public Library.

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Mounted 7th January 2006. rcwh.