Yours, Eml. Cowger

24 September 2019

While looking into another member of his Company, I came upon this letter from 19 year old Private Emanuel Cowger of the 25th Virginia Infantry about his experience on the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

Before you read it, though, you should know the heartbreaker: he died of disease in Winchester about two weeks after mailing it … I only hope his family went to visit him before then.

Fredrick County, Winchester, Sept. 22nd, 1862
Dear Father & Mother

I seat myself this morning to drop you a few lines to let you know our present condition. I am not very well at this time but I hope when this come to hand it will find you all enjoying good health. I have been sick about a week but I am better now. I had something like the cramp colick. I am at the hospital at Winchester. I came here yesterday.

Our men has been doing some big work since I last wrote. I suppose you have heard all about the fight at the junction. We have been in Maryland. We went around by Fredrick city, came on around to Williamsport and crossed over into Virginia from there to Martinsburg and run the Yankees away, then onto Harpers Ferry. Sept. 15th captured about 15,000 prisoners; we got the whole army, artillery and all. They did not stand us a fight. We left the Ferry on night of the 15th and marched up to Sheppardtown, crossed over into Maryland, and had a very hard fight with Burnsides and McClelans army. The fight was on Wednesday the 17th. I don’t know weather to call it a victory or not, our men have fallen back on this side of the river …

I would be very glad to hear from you all once more if I could. I haven’t heard from you since the 7th of August. I would sooner see you all than to hear from you. I think we will get furloughs this winter if nothing happens. I hope the war will soon come to a close and we will be permitted to go home once more. I don’t think the war can last long the way it is going now. If you have any chance to send me a letter, do so. I am very anxious to hear from you all once more. Please excuse my bad writing and spelling. So no more at present, but still remain yours,

Eml Cowger

I will write again in a few days and let you know how I am and where I am, and I will try and give you more satisfaction.


Huge thanks to Sharon Murray for the pointer to that other soldier, Private John Linthicum, who was mortally wounded at Sharpsburg. Part of Cowger’s letter not included here is about Linthicum’s wound.

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