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Union Soldier’s Letter to his Cousin from Embattled Washington
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GEORGE BOWERS. Autograph Letter Signed, September 10, 1861, Washington, D.C. 3 pp., on patriotic stationery; with partial patriotic cover from Birney’s Regiment.

Inventory #21265.21       Price: $250

Complete Transcript

[Letterhead:]

A GENERAL LION, or our Lion & our Flag

Let the Beauregard ass in his fury,

         Beware of crop’d ears and deep scars,

When our Union Lyon of Missouri

         Is guarding our Stripes and our Stars.

                   Washington September 10 1861

Dear Cuson I received your letter to day and Glad to here that yous ware well I am well and hope that this letter will Find yous the same tel my Farther that John Dinmore sends his bes respct to him tel him the he well and hope to find him the same barny Mccrozen is in the hospital side charly I will send watch on when I get my money we had a pread [parade] in Washington yesterday afternoon tel alice and chisson send their best respect to them I have not ben on gard yet sam wiley send his best respect to you and henry mcclaspy also charly I wood like you to git my ring of aney smith fore me and send it on to me I will tel yous that captain cavade first lukenants showers the happy is <2> tent in redgment of then capen John Dinmore capen clerk John goamly Bumer charly McBrine Baby edey Bulmer slew George Bowers the names of the tents

Now More at present your Cusson

                                                               George Bowers

Writ soon a gain

<3>

tel my Farthe that John Dinmore says to tel him to come on and see ous

[Envelope:]

Mr George Bowers / 618 South Juniper st / Philadelphia / Pa[1]

Historical Background

Bowers was part of a group of soldiers who were guarding the national capital after the disastrous First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. The “captain cavade” to whom he refers is likely Captain George H. Covode (1835-1864) of Company D, 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry, who was on his way to becoming colonel of that regiment.

The patriotic stationery on which this letter is written makes a play on Missouri General Nathaniel Lyon’s name. Lyon (1818-1861) was the first Union general to be killed in the American Civil War. He was killed on August 10, 1861, one month before this letter was written, but the stationery was undoubtedly printed earlier. Made commander of the arsenal in St. Louis, Missouri in February 1861, Lyon stirred controversy when he surrounded the pro-Confederate Missouri militia drilling near St. Louis and forced their surrender in May 1861. He promptly received promotion to brigadier general. In open warfare with pro-Confederate Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson, Lyon captured Jefferson City in June 1861, and pressed on to Springfield, Missouri. A month later, at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Lyon was killed leading a counterattack against Confederate forces. Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard of Louisiana commanded Confederate forces in Charleston that bombarded Fort Sumter in April 1861, and successfully commanded Confederate troops at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, making him an early hero of the Confederacy.


[1] According to an 1861 Philadelphia directory, laborer George Bowers and brickmaker George Bowers Jr. lived at 618 S. Juniper Street.


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