Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Death of another Stonewall

John Stevens Bowen

       Anyone who knows anything about the Civil War will quickly identify "Stonewall" Jackson. Most people with a little Civil War knowledge can identify Patrick Cleburne as the "Stonewall of the West." Very few people know that there was a third "Stonewall" in the Confederate Army during the war. 
       John Stevens Bowen was the other man nicknamed "Stonewall" and lost that nickname due to his death. He is not as famous as Jackson or Cleburne and the reason is simple. Despite being a great commander and well loved by his men, Bowen didn't die in combat. His death was a lot less glorious as the other two "Stonewalls." 
       Bowen was born in Georgia in 1830 and attended the University of Georgia. He left before graduating and entered the United States Military Academy. He was suspended a year because he had refused to tell on another student he'd caught out after hours. He returned to the academy and graduated in the class of 1853. 
       Bowen would spend three years in the U.S. Army before resigning to become an architect back in Georgia. He became a lieutenant colonel in the Georgia Militia before moving to Missouri just three years before the Civil War began.
       Bowen was initially captured in Missouri by Federal General Nathaniel Lyon. Upon his exchange he was quickly given command of a brigade in Leonidas Polk's corps. When Confederate Major General George Crittenden was dismissed from service for drunkenness, the logical choice to replace him was John Bowen. Sidney Johnston chose John Breckinridge instead because Breckinridge was the ex-vice president of the United States and a more popular man among the public. Bowen was relatively unknown. 
       Bowen remained in command of a brigade at the Battle of Shiloh where he was severely wounded and out of action for quite some time. Upon his recovery, Bowen took command of a division under John Pemberton at Vicksburg. He would be Pemberton's most trusted subordinate. 

Bowen: The hero of Port Gibson

       Bowen delayed Grant's approach to Vicksburg at Port Gibson despite being outnumbered and because of his action there he was promoted to Major General. He continued to serve under the inept Pemberton, fighting at Champion Hill and served as Pemberton's rearguard afterward. 
       During the siege of Vicksburg, Pemberton became extremely sick with dysentery. Dysentery was a deadly disease during the Civil War. It was a combination of bloody diarrhea, fever and extreme pain. Bowen was paroled after the surrender of Vicksburg and was travelling with his wife when he was forced to stop near Edwards, Mississippi. On July 13, 1863 just nine days after he was surrendered at Vicksburg, John Bowen died. 

Walton House, death site of John Bowen

       John Stevens Bowen, the other "Stonewall" of the Confederate Army was thirty-two years old. He is not as well known as the other two for several reasons. The way he died helped contribute to this, but also because he died just as he was reaching the best part of his career. He is another Civil War officer that we must ask ourselves the question. Had he lived, what might he have accomplished?

Cedar Hill Cemetery, Vicksburg Mississippi

1 comment:

  1. sad, was probably a great man, probanly died to soon good blog thanks for the research and good work