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SUBMITTED BY:  David W. Dowless Jr.; Edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter; Letter transcribed by Cheri Todd Molter

Samuel, Elisha, and John Dowless were brothers from Bladen County, North Carolina who all fought for the Confederacy. According to their military records, Elisha Dowless enlisted first: On Feb. 7, 1862, the thirty-three-year-old man enlisted at Bladen County as a Private in “Batty I” Company, North Carolina 2nd Light Artillery. One month later, Samuel, who was thirty-five years old, and John, who was thirty, traveled to New Hanover County, North Carolina and enlisted, too. They also served in “Batty I” Company, N.C. 2nd Light Artillery.

John Dowless was admitted to the hospital twice during the war: once for a burned foot, then later, in 1865, due to chronic diarrhea. He was captured and taken prisoner near Savannah, Georgia, on Dec. 26, 1864.

Samuel A. Dowless and Elisha Dowless were both stationed at Fort Fisher, North Carolina. On Jan. 15, 1865, Elisha was shot in the side, and both brothers were taken prisoner. Two days after being captured, while awaiting transfer to Point Lookout, Maryland, Samuel wrote a letter to his wife Sarah (see attached). The two Dowless brothers were confined at Point Lookout until they signed the Oath of Allegiance on June 26, 1865; then, they were both released.

After the war, Sarah was able to collect a pension for Samuel’s service, and Elisha was able to collect one for himself.


I’ve attached a photograph of Samuel and Elisha Dowless. I’ve also attached a copy of the letter Samuel wrote to his wife, Sarah Jane Guyton Dowless, after he was captured from Fort Fisher. A copy of a transcription of that letter from 1981 is included, too. (Click on photos to enlarge.)




Following are descriptions of the attached pictures:

  • Elisha Dowless and Samuel Dowless at Fort Fisher.
  • Samuel A. Dowless’ headstone.
  • Sarah Jane Guyton Dowless’ headstone.
  • A Letter from Samuel Dowless to his wife, Sarah
  • The 1981 Transcription of the Letter from Samuel Dowless

Transcription of original letter:

Near fort Fisher NC

January the Seventeen day 1865
Mrs Sarah J Dowless Dear Wife and Children I drop a line to let you no [sic] that I am well and harty [sic] and all so [sic] in the handes [sic] of the yankeys [sic] and tha [sic] treat me very kind I hope this may find you all well and Injoying [sic] the Blessings of god my Love I dont no [sic] where tha [sic] will cary [sic] me to dont Be unesey [sic] about me god is with me pray put your trust in god I will rite [sic] to you Every chance Brother Elisha is wonded [sic] But is about well and a if this is our parting leter [sic] By the grace of god I will meat [sic] you in heaven I Ever Remain your true and affectionnate [sic] husban [sic] until death
S. A. Dowless to Sarah J Dowless

Transcription with modern spellings and punctuation:

Near Fort Fisher NC

January the Seventeenth day of 1865
Mrs. Sarah J Dowless
Dear Wife and Children,
I drop a line to let you know that I am well and hearty and also in the hands of the Yankees, and they treat me very kindly. I hope this may find you all well and Enjoying the Blessings of God. My Love, I don’t know where they will carry me to. Don’t Be uneasy about me. God is with me. Pray, put your trust in God. I will write to you Every chance. Brother Elisha is wounded but is about well, and if this is our parting letter, By the grace of God I will meet you in heaven.
I Ever Remain your true and affectionate husband until death,
S. A. Dowless to Sarah J Dowless

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