15th Mass. Roland E. Bowen, Waiting to Be Exchanged, Writes Much Detail about his Capture at Gettysburg & His Journey to Richmond

This letter is headed, “Camp Parole (Annapolis) March 5, 1864”. The letter is 4 long pages in ink and comes with its original envelope, missing stamp. The cover is addressed to his friend Davis Guild in Millbury, Mass. 

The content is excellent:

• Camp Parole Mar. 5 1864. Friend Davis, After receiving such a splendid letter, full of Greenbacks, and the promise of more on demand, and then taking no notice of it for nearly three weeks, I hardly know what to say. But to come directly to the point, I acknowledge myself to be a Brute. Now you can call me anything you please, and I won’t be offended. You know what a fellow I am to “sum it.”  

• I have been playing chess, checkers, and baseball all the time of late. This morning I threw down the checker board and resolved to scribble a few days. 

• You want I should write about the battle of Gettysburg and my journey to Richmond. I have said many times I was done writing anything about battles, that it had yet to be an old story and did not interest anybody. I am inclined to think no one but you could induce me to do it now. 

• But I am a prisoner under guard, the same as I was on Belle Island. My money is “played.” My Government won’t pay me one cent because I was taken prisoner. Old Hallock says we are cowards. The pay roster comes to parole camp and pays the officers and goes away. Also the 97th N. Y. are paid (Guards), but we cowards can wait until we go to the Regmt. or the Government sees fit to pay us. 

• But what I was a going to say was this. My money is played. I ask you for 5 or 10 dollars and then I read, “Enclosed find Ten dollars and if you want more, let me know at any time and you shall have it.” I tell you Davis those words filled my heart with emotion of gratitude and moistened an eye that is not want to “leak peppermint.” 

• I am a firm believer in the theory or fact that sooner or later every body must die. Should you be so unfortunate as to be one of the number, God grant (not Gen.) that the course may be “Methuselahism” or in other words, extreme old age. And again let me return my heart felt thanks for your long and interesting letter and the greenback. 

• But as I was about to say some time ago, you want I should write about Gettysburg and my journey to Richmond. I suppose you always considered Bowen pretty good on the leg and wonder how Johnny happened to get him. 

• Why he did not run away while crossing the mountains in Penn. instead of Staunton. And then again how they got him a second time right under the shadow of the Devil’s Back Bone (a mountain of rock by that name in W. Va.). I admit this last was a foolish affair. Upon the top of a high mountain I argued the question for an hour but was over ruled and our fate come to pass just as I predicted. 

• I am owing a number of letters which I wish to answer. Then I will write you an account of sights and scenes from the Round top to Richmond. It is a high hill where we camped the night before the Battle of Gettysburg.  

• I did not know Powers & Varney were dead. Am sorry to hear it. What was the trouble between Amy and her husband? Who did Miles marry? A Western gal, I suppose. Miss McCrillis or Mrs. Murphy begins to “smell thunder.” Herself, I reckon as it is said. 

• Sherman is at Selma only 30 miles from Montgomery. Speaking of Sherman, God only knows where he is. That was a bold undertaking, and I fear will prove disastrous. 

• Gilmore expedition has not proved so successful as I could wish. Kilpatrick & Custer are on a raid. “Kil” is near Richmond “on the trot” and my opinion is will bring up at Williamsburg, Yorktown, Gloucester Pt. or Fortress Monroe, instead of Richmond.  

• Grant is a Lieut. Gen. sure. Really he is a hero, but Napoleon died on the island of St. Helena. The coming Spring Campaign will be an interesting one. Blood, Honey and Death in great profusion. Victory and Defeat as usual, of course. One and the other alternately.  

• I judge from what I see that there is to be a fleet sail from here sometime during the Spring for some point in Dixie. Davis let none of those big bounties induce you to be a slave. to be despised by all humanity. 

• A Veteran. Oh, low me. $1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. No, Sir. Small change first. But space forbids more so I will close with a sincere desire to impress upon your mind the great responsibility of a speedy answer to the above. Remember me to Fannie & Mary E. Yours etc. etc. etc. B-o-w-e-n  

 Written upside down across top of front page:   Am liable to be exchanged at any time when Battery says so. 

#PO117MA.3-5-64 – Price $495 (Want all 3 Bowen letters? Special price $2,000)