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R.E. Bowen

R.E. Bowen

Federal (USV)


Roland Edwin Bowen

(1837 - 1883)

Home State: Massachusetts

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 15th Massachusetts Infantry

Before Antietam

A 24 year old wood turner from Millbury, he enlisted and mustered as Private, Company B, 15th Massachusetts Infantry on 30 July 1861. He survived the Ball's Bluff debacle on 21 October 1861 by swimming the Potomac saving only his clothes, $13, a knife, and his watch, which he carried for the rest of his life.

On the Campaign

He was in action in the West Woods at Antietam with his Company on 17 September 1862.

The rest of the War

He was reported missing but was captured in action at Gettysburg on 2 July 1863. He escaped, was recaptured, and exchanged. He was captured in action 22 June 1864 near Petersburg, VA and later escaped enroute to prison in Andersonville, GA. He returned to Union lines about 20 July 1864, and mustered out 3 August 1864.

After the War

He was the longtime postmaster in Millbury and died at age 45 of consumption (tuberculosis).

References & notes

Basic information from Commonwealth of Massachusetts1 and Andrew E. Ford's The Story of the Fifteenth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War, 1861-1864 (1898). His presence at Antietam and other details from his own wartime letters, published as From Ball's Bluff to Gettysburg-- and beyond (Greg Coco, editor, 1994). His gravesite is on Findagrave. His picture is from a photograph published in the Spring 2017 edition of Military Images, crediting the Mark Savolis Collection. Thanks to Justin Martin for the pointer to Bowen. Bowen's manuscripts about game strategy in checkers were published after his death as Checkers: The Fife Opening (1886).


07/05/1837; Millbury Junction, MA


01/21/1883; Millbury, MA; burial in Millbury Central Cemetery, Millbury, MA


1   Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Adjutant General, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, 8 Vols, Norwood (MA): Norwood Press, 1931-35, Vol. 2, pg. 142  [AotW citation 18139]