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William Stow Civil War Letters

 Collection
Identifier: mss-529

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of the original letters of Private William Stow who served in Company F of the Second Vermont Infantry in the Civil War. It includes a few letters of his younger brother Lewis, also in the second. The letters are addressed to their parents. There is no incoming correspondence, though the letters here reference received letters. The letters were sent from a training camp in Burlington, VT and from camps in the field, mainly in Virginia (including several from Camp Griffin and Brandy Station) and sites in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York City.

A letter from September 8, 1862 details the brothers meeting at General Hospital in West Philadelphia, PA. where both William and Lewis were patients. A letter dated October 13, 1862 imparts the news of Lewis's death and a short visit from their brother Theodore. A friend, F. J. Hastings, writes for William when he cannot do so himself. A small number of messages from Theodore and Larenzo are included.

The letters detail drill and training, the weather, camp conditions, the boys' health, supplies, the high cost of goods, military pay, news from friends, battles near and far, various family members, the conditions back home, and a desire to return. They document part of Alonzo's travels trips to retrieve his sons and bring them back to Calais.

Uncorrected transcripts (most typed and some hand written) are included.

Dates

  • 1861-1864

Creator

Access

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

Alonzo Stow was born in Warwick, Massachusetts in 1810 to Amos Stow and Lydia (or Sylvia) Cole Stow. The family appears to have moved around in New Hampshire and Canada before settling in Calais, Vermont in around 1850, where Alonzo stayed until his death in 1894. He worked as a blacksmith. His wife Eliza Hall was born in Fairfield, Vermont in 1812 and they married in about 1833. According to the 1840 census, they lived in her home town of Fairfield, Vermont. She died in 1886. Their children were Larenzo, Theodore, Orange, William H., Lewis A., Emily E., Amos, and Hannah Elizabeth. The family was plagued with loss, including the deaths of three sons in the Civil War in consecutive years. While official records and newspaper clippings often use the spelling Stowe, the letters in this collection (as well as the grave marker of the family plot in Calais) use the spelling Stow, which is continued throughout this finding aid.

Larenzo Stow was born in 1834. He worked as a farm laborer, mechanic, and journeyman carpenter. In 1859, he married Mary Annie Nichols (1840-1921). They had one daughter, Nellie Jane (July 1861-1941). He served in Company C of Rhode Island’s 12th Regiment as a Corporal. Enlisting on October 13, 1862, he died in January 1863 of typhoid fever at a camp near Falmouth, Virginia at the age of 28. He was buried in the family plot in Center [Ainsworth] Cemetery in Calais. Though some sources spell his name Lorenzo, his grave marker uses the spelling Larenzo, thus it is used here. Mary married Charles D. Carpenter in 1865; they had two children and also raised Nellie in the Barre area.

Theodore Stow was born in 1836. Census records alternate, giving Canada and Vermont as his birth place. He worked as a blacksmith. In 1860, he married Ortense Batchelder (1839-1913) of Woodbury, Vermont. He was commissioned into Company H of Vermont’s 13th regiment as a Corporal on August 19, 1862, and promoted to Sergeant that October. He served at Fairfax Court House and Gettysburg. Theodore was mustered out on July 21, 1863, the only son of his family to survive the war. After the war, he and Ortense lived in Woodbury and Barre. They had two sons of their own, William Lorenzo (August 13, 1862-1929) and Frank Harmon (1866-1939). Theodore was active in local veterans circles and died in 1915 at the Soldiers Home in Bennington, Vermont where, according to newspaper reports, he regularly spent the winter months. He is buried with his wife in Barre. Note that some military records incorrectly give his last name as Stone. Also, Ortense’s name is spelled in a variety of ways including Hortense, Ortensa, Artensa, and Or.

Orange Stow was born about 1838 in either Quebec or Vermont. He died in 1858 of typhoid fever in Calais, age 20. He is buried in the family plot.

William H. Stow was born in 1840 in Vermont. According to the 1860 census, he worked as a farm laborer in the neighboring town of Woodbury, where his older brother Theodore also worked as a blacksmith. William enlisted in Company F of Vermont’s 2nd regiment as a Private on May 7, 1861, departing for the front that June. Tributes credit him as the first man from Calais to enlist. He was promoted to Corporal but killed in action on May 5, 1864 in the Battle of the Wilderness, perhaps a month or less shy of being discharged (as the second regiment was designated for a three year enlistment). The Calais post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was named the Stow Post (after the war) in his honor. He is buried in the family plot in Calais.

Lewis A. Stow was born in 1845 in Vermont. He worked as a day laborer, according to the 1860 census. He enlisted in Company K of Vermont’s 2nd regiment (the same as William) on February 20, 1862. He was discharged for disability on October 2, 1862 and died one week later in Calais, at the age of 17 or 18. He is buried in the family plot. Note that some military records incorrectly give his first name as Loomis.

Emily E. Stow was born in 1847. She never married, living with her parents in Calais, presumably until Alonzo’s death. According to the 1900 census, she lived with her sister Hannah (see below) in Barre. Funeral notices cite long term poor health. She died on a visit to family in Quebec in 1909 and is buried in the family plot in Calais.

Amos Stow was born in 1949 but did not survive childhood, dying in 1851 at the age of two. He is buried in the family plot.

Hannah Elizabeth Stow was born in 1852. She lived with her parents and sister in Calais, working as a milliner, until her 1881 marriage to George Batchelder (brother of Ortense Batchelder, wife of Theodore Stow, see above). They had two daughters, Ruth Eliza (b. 1882) and Gertrude Nora (1883-1963). Batchelder died in 1888. Hannah then worked as a dressmaker in the Barre area where she was also active in multiple roles of the GAR leadership. In 1913, she married George Washington Flagg (1839-1919) of Braintree, Vermont. It was a second marriage for both. He had been a notable Civil War soldier who rose through the ranks from Private to First Sergeant, serving from 1861 to 1865 through re-enlistment in Vermont’s 2nd regiment. Flagg is noted as having seen to the return of William’s body and consoling the Stow family in their loss. The newspapers of the day seemed quite keen on the story given his prominence, their early connection, and their ages at marriage of 74 and 61 or 62. After the war, he had gained notoriety as a successful collar and elbow wrestler as well as in state politics (as representative and senator). Later in life, he was an animal breeder and dealer. Presumably through Flagg's Masonic connections, Hannah lived in the Eastern Star Home in Randolph, Vermont from at least 1930 until her death in 1938. She is buried with her first husband in Woodbury, Vermont.

Extent

0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)

Abstract

Letters of Private William Stow of the Second Vermont Infantry in the Civil War. Includes a few letters of his brother Lewis, also in the second.

Location

Library Research Annex; contact uvmsc@uvm.edu for access.

Related Materials

The Civil War Papers of George Washington Flagg (MSA 595) are held by the Vermont Historical Society in Barre, Vermont. The collection includes a photograph album from his time in the second regiment; the Stow brothers do not appear in the inventory, though some portraits are not identified as to subject.

Bibliography

The book series "The Fellers Called Him Bill" by P. J. Kearns (2012) utilized these letters to tell William Stow's story.

Creator

Title
Guide to the William Stow Civil War Letters
Status
Completed
Date
2018 July
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)