Confederate veteran testifies to help Unionist neighbors
My great-great-grandfather, Samuel Bowman, was a farmer from Burke County. On October 7, 1861, he joined Captain Thomas G. Walton’s company of volunteers, the Davis Dragoons, a cavalry unit which would eventually become Company F of the 41st Regiment North Carolina Troops, later designated as the 3rd North Carolina Cavalry. Samuel’s regiment spent the first part of the war in eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, from the Cape Fear to the Blackwater River, performing picket and scouting duties to protect the Wilmington-Weldon Railroad from Union attack. On April 22, 1864, the 3rd NC Cavalry was assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia, as part of General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry. The regiment was one of many moved up to Petersburg in May for General P.G.T. Beauregard’s move to contain General Butler’s forces at Bermuda Hundred, and thus to thwart the Army of the James from marching on Petersburg. The 3rd engaged Federal cavalry en route to the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, May 14-15. The regiment spent the rest of the war engaging in the siege of Petersburg. It fought in a number of well-known engagements, including the Battle of Ream’s Station on August 25, where Confederate cavalry pushed back a force of Union infantry. In October, Samuel was given leave to obtain a horse, indicating his had died. He was apparently unable to do so; in December he was transferred to Company B of the 11th North Carolina Volunteers, an infantry unit. The 11th manned the trenches along the Boydton Plank Road, protecting the last rail line into Petersburg. On April 2, 1865, Samuel was one of thousands of Confederates captured as the defenses around Petersburg fell. Samuel was imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland, until he was released on July 23 after taking the Oath of Allegiance. He returned home to Burke County. In 1878, Samuel testified to the Southern Claims Commission that a neighbor, William Keller, was opposed to the war and remained a loyal citizen of the United States. This testimony was so that Keller’s widow, Martha, could be reimbursed for property losses to the U.S. government during the war.