John Wright Bowen enlisted in Duplin County in 1861

by | Jan 26, 2016 | Confederate affiliation, Duplin

John Wright Bowen was born in rural Duplin County in 1846. He enlisted in 1861 as a private in the 18th NC Regulars. Little is known of his assignments until he was wounded and captured on May 12, 1864 during the battle at Spotsylvania Court House, VA when he was only 18 years old. His wounds were minor, and he was sent to Maryland’s prisoner of war camp at Point Lookout. On May 18, 1864 records show that he was in Belle Plain, VA before being transferred to the infamous POW camp in Elmira, NY on August 3, 1864. He survived the brutal conditions that all Confederate prisoners endured in this camp. Because Bowen was clever and handy with his hands, he used scraps of metal and wood he found at the camp to make decorations and jewelry which he traded the guards for food. It helped sustain him during this period. Bowen was released after the war and walked home to North Carolina, arriving in Teachey’s Depot (now the town of Teachey) in Duplin County. He recalled to his family that he saw great poverty among the people of the countryside as he made the long walk back home. After the war he settled in Pender County and raised a family. He was very active in the community, helping to establish the local Baptist Church in Burgaw. He was considered a person of high integrity and was a successful farmer, a magistrate and an inventor. He encouraged all his children to complete high school and college. While all finished high school, some graduated from Salemburg Boarding School or Buies Creek Academy (now Campbell University) and become professional men. Brown was noted for being frugal and kept detailed records of his income and expenses. He had a strong reputation of hard work and an unwillingness to temper his hatred of the “Yankees.” He was my grandfather.

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